Teaching Methods and
Program Curriculum

This course introduces observation, experimentation, data collection, drawing, photography, visualization, historical records and exchanges with local communities to address the transformation of landscapes at local, regional and global scales. Cross-disciplinary, place-based learning enriches the study of environments by engaging with the historical and lived experience of communities.

Foundational topics

  • Geology (deep time, Earth and atmosphere building, geology of the San Juan Mountains)
  • Ecology and natural sciences (hydrology, biology, soil science, forest health)
  • Climate change (environmental transformation and resilience, food, water and energy)
  • Systems thinking (interconnection, complexity, environmental education)
  • Landscape dynamics (language of landscape, land-use history and planning, architecture and climate)
  • Socio-cultural dynamics (politics, economics and political ecology, intersectional race, gender and class dynamics)
  • Fieldwork principles (ethics, data collection principles, drawing and visualization techniques, comprehension of core issues and stakeholders)
  • Synthesis + Communication (narrative and visualization for different audiences, strategies for implementation)

Note: Field Stations workshops are crafted by an interdisciplinary group of collaborators, but they originate in the architecture and design disciplines. We welcome participants who do not have design backgrounds to learn how visual and design modes of thinking can aid their practice, and we hope to push design-oriented participants to think beyond human and visual scales to imagine and address issues related to climate change. This workshop asks participants how exchanges between design, arts, humanities and science communities might shift creative and critical practice.

Program Objectives

Participants and faculty participate in daily activities and develop their own agenda for inquiry within the framework set by the program team.

Each participant will complete a project at the end of the workshop. The content and structure of the project is flexible, but it should reflect the integration of experience, knowledge and observations made during the workshop.

Projects may entail recording and monitoring local conditions, analyzing ecosystemic changes, questioning representational strategies, exploring the restoration of physical and environmental spaces associated with the workshop and establishing relationships with local actors.

Participants who have developed a prior creative proposal or agenda for inquiry in the region of study may pursue their own project during the workshop. Participants who do not have a prior project in the area may create one during the workshop, either independently or in conjunction with local community partners.

Examples of potential projects:

  • A climate fiction writer uses the workshop time to draft a story;
  • A graduate student is interested in further documenting the impacts of industry on the Animas River watershed and uses the workshop time to take a series of field observations. These observations are used to create a series of maps that are shared with community members;
  • A designer is working on visualization strategies for arid landscapes. They produce a series of drawings that visualize the effect of drought in the Animas watershed.

Workshop outcomes will be made available to a broader audience on this website.