Department: Graduate Exhibition Design
Initiative: Understanding the industry practice, material, processes and coordinating with other efforts
"The good news is that a larger portion of the world's population has access to things the first world takes for granted. The bad news is that we have fewer resources overall. Clearly we need to act individually and reduce our consumption and work for our governments to act nationally to develop sustainable resources and lower consumption" - MM
How would you categorize your initiative?
This initiative is a module within a course.
Please describe your activity and its relevance to sustainability in the curriculum.
Through discussion, material and process examples, examples of built projects and input in the development of class projects, I try to help the students understand the fairly aggressive industry standards for sustainability as well as the obstacles and future opportunities for sustainable creation of exhibits. From general directions in concept design, through specific material and process choices documented in detailed documentation, the student's work is expected to reflect the best practices found in the industry today. These ideas are woven throughout the course material just as sustainable thinking needs to be woven throughout one's design efforts to be effective.
Have you incorporated this activity in your teaching?
Yes, this has been incorporated within the last academic year.
Briefly describe your experience implementing your initiative.
The students are all eager and interested to incorporate sustainable initiatives into their designs. They often have a "silver bullet" mentality going into it, but are open to understanding the complexity and nuance of these practices in real world conditions.
Do you anticipate any next steps in your sustainability initiative?
Generally I anticipate increasing specific documentation of sustainable elements of the design - just as we are being asked to do in our professional lives.
Based on your experience, do you have any suggestions or advice you might give to other faculty interested in incorporating sustainability into the curriculum?
Faculty should avoid "green washing" - the use of a token amount of green materials to create an impression of environmental sustainability. This has the double negative of trivializing the importance of sustainable practices as well as not actually being sustainable. One also leaves the door open for withering (and deserved) criticism.
Does your initiative have applicability to other curricular or program areas?
In general yes, in specific, no. As a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Accredited Professional in commercial interiors, I understand what behaviors and processes are likely to produce the best results for most "built" design disciplines especially as seen through the generalist lens of exhibit design.
Do you have anything else to add?
It would be beneficial for FIT to work with the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) or similar organizations to help train and accredit students.