Reforming Undergraduate Education in Environmental Engineering: Urban Studios as Knowledge Delivery Systems and Vehicles for Service Learning
This project is being carried out at the Department of Earth and Environmental Engineering (EEE) at Columbia which was created as part of the Henry Krumb School of Mines to address planetary habitability and sustainable use of resources as a key issue. The focus of this department is that a broad range of physical, chemical, ecological, social and economic knowledge is needed to address practical problems in this field.
This project is addressing the difficulty of meaningfully integrating these areas into an undergraduate curriculum that also requires exposure to laboratory and field techniques as well as numerical and statistical modeling skills. This project has chosen Urban Studios as a vehicle for curricular reform. There are several reasons for this. First, urban problems provide the opportunity for depth (e.g., combustion processes and pollutant production from cars) and breadth (e.g., the link between flood control strategies, vector borne disease, and cumulative ecological impacts in receiving water bodies). Second, the setting naturally lends itself to service projects and interactions with engineering professional practice. Third, urbanization is a global concern, and an appropriate focus for a University located in New York City. Finally, ongoing experience with Urban Studios at the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (GSAPP) makes it possible to rapidly implement, re-evaluate and refine the proposed curriculum, while providing interactions for engineering students with urban planners and architects.
This proposal is initiating the development of a Studio based curriculum that provides access to this mode of learning through all 4 years of the program, complementing traditional classes. Engineering and GSAPP students will work together in the Studios.