4.s22J / 11.s944J
Special Subject: World Making

Permission of instructor

Globalization, in its different meanings, has exerted a singular conception of the world.  While we are working hard to understand its impact on the political and economic levels, its less-than-satisfactory spatial manifestations have yet to find the adequate tools to address them. Despite the fact that environmental, demographic, and land use questions have acquired a global scale, we continue to respond to them at the scale of cities and buildings.

The course asks: How can urban planning, architecture, design and the arts play a role in improving and expressing a world given to us by globalization?

Building on Nelson Goodman’s idea of “world-making,” the course proposes that we are capable of constructing better, diverse, and alternative worlds to the globalization at work. Through the semester, we will explore five possible ways of world-making: the Ecumenic, the Territorial, the Mediamorphic, the Megalithic and the Geo-Graphic. We will also build on debates in the fields of architecture and planning but also in media, geography, and philosophy to develop the strategies for each of these approaches to world-making.

The course consists of weekly lectures, discussions with guest faculty from the school’s three departments, and group reading sessions. The final requirement is a written or visual essay.

The course is open enrollment and is meant to provide a common ground for all students from the school’s different departments and programs. Through its reading groups, the course is also meant to provide a platform for Masters and PhD students to develop and debate their own thesis work.