Our Approach

Field Stations 2022: Rural Futures was crafted by an interdisciplinary group of collaborators originating in the architecture and design disciplines to form a program that fore-fronted how visual and design modes of thinking can aid an array of disciplinary approaches that address issues relating to climate change and resiliency. 

The course used techniques such as scientific observation, data collection, drawing, photography, and GIS visualization methods, alongside examinations into historical records to address the transformation of landscapes at local, regional and global scales. Cross-disciplinary interactions with local and tribal communities, environmental science organizations, urban planners, ecologists, academics, and artists enriched these studies, and provided a multidimensional foundation for physically exploring the region and engaging with the historical and lived experiences of the people in the area.

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)

Project Development

Participants and faculty participated in daily activities to develop their own agenda for inquiry within the framework set by the program team. Each participant was asked to complete a project at the end of the workshop. The content and structure of the project was flexible, but aimed to reflect the integration of experience, knowledge and observations gained throughout the workshop. Projects entailed 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 had developed a prior creative proposal or agenda for inquiry in the region of study were also able to pursue their own project. Those who did not have a prior project in the area were encouraged to create one during the workshop, either independently or in conjunction with local community partners.