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PGUD_5310_B_Morrish_Sp16

Design and Urban Ecologies Thesis


The New School Parsons
School of Design Strategies, Design and Urban Ecologies
12:10-5:50 pm. 63 5th Avenue, room 515
William R. Morrish, Professor Urban Ecologies
morrishw@newschool.edu
917-620-4525
Office hours by appointment, please email for a time and date
C ourse Format
Students work independently on an original thesis with the guidance of a thesis advisor and
under the supervision of the thesis committee. They are encouraged to work collaboratively and
hold group discussions as they continue their research and make use of literature searches,
archival study, and fieldwork to develop a compelling written and visual narrative. A thesis can
take the form of any design, social or art practice, but must be situated within the transdisciplinary discursive space established during the first three semesters. With committee
approval, students may submit thesis projects in alternative forms, such as documentary video or
multimedia. The completed thesis must demonstrate original analysis and thinking on
theoretical, historical, social, ecological, or other dimensions of contemporary urban practices.
Students learn how to develop their thesis for publication, whether in scholarly peer-reviewed
journals, news magazines, position papers put out by think tanks or nonprofit organizations, or
reputable websites that reach a large and varied audience.
C ourse Focus: Moving From Urban Situation Research into Praxis- Exercising
Theory in Practice
The polis, properly speaking, is not the city-state in its physical location; it is the
organization of the people as it arises out of acting and speaking together, and its true
space lies between people living together for this purpose, no matter where they
happen to be."
-Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition
A graduate thesis for students in the Design and Urban Ecologies program is a two semester
studio based design process of cycling through primary research, encountering complex urban
societal congestion and experiencing the social spaces of confrontation, seeking ways in which
to understand how the field of design and urban ecologies might play a constructive role as an
intermediary turning Arendts words about the uniting power of living together spaces into
reality.
Last semester this group began this task from a diverse set of different urban questions.
Through extensive interpersonal analysis, fieldwork and deep research and engagement with
urban actors, they have worked both to situate themselves and their experiences in the issues

embedded in the context of their urban questions and to identify the proper set of questions
and how they operate. Collectively they discovered divergent forces and common threads
between each of their investigations as to language, human experiences, spatial structure and
knowledge. Second they grounded themselves in a problem through exploration of an existing
social crisis, assessment of urban projects or an historic urban situation to investigate the ways in
which people collectively designed their decision to proceed forward with a particular
direction, and explored ways in which solutions were valued and changed over time. Through
shared conversations about their research in class and with partners, each student has produced
a deep description of an urban question. It sets the design terms by which they will name and
frame the entry way questions to be addressed with their community partners, revealing how
their ideas for making the strong and weak ties of Arendts together spaces of the polis might
be valued and made by the community into the spaces and, social, natural and political
ecologies of a supportive urban society. In sum, this semester we will work to turn this deep
description into an urban praxis project located within in a particular community, corporation,
or allied profession, that will demonstrate how people together can make the their city,
empowered by design and urban ecologies thinking, doing and making.
C ourse Requirements/Graded Activities
The final thesis must be presented publicly in a final public forum, as well as submitted
electronically and in bound printed form. The work must be original and not previously
published or presented, and not to exceed 40,000 words in length.
Each assignment will be assessed in terms of the following five criteria:

1. Demonstrate the ability to synthesize completed literature searches, archival study,


and fieldwork into a compelling written and illustrated narrative.
2. Demonstrate original analysis and thinking on emerging urban ecologies and allied
design practices, which include theoretical, historical, social and ecological dimensions,
and to argue for alternative approaches.
3. Demonstrate the possession of vocabulary verbal, textual, and visualto document
the knowledge produced through the process of design-led research and communicate
that knowledge to diverse audiences.
4. Demonstrate an ability to work effectively in collaborative situations with diverse
stakeholders.
5. Demonstrate the ability to act autonomously in planning and implementing tasks at a
professional or equivalent level.
Final Grade C alculation
Thesis development process and interim presentations

50%

Final presentation

30%

Final Products

20%

TOTAL

100%

C ourse Schedule
The following course schedule serves the dual purpose of setting the dates for courses
presentations and required deliverables, as well as a calendar upon which each student can chart
out their work-plan dates, tasks and deliverables.

WEEK 1

WEEK 2

1/25/16

2/1/16

WEEK 3

2/8/16

WEEK 4

2/15/16

WEEK 5

2/22/16

WEEK 6

2/29/16

WEEK 7

3/7/16

WEEK 8

3/14/16

3/2125/16
WEEK 9
WEEK 10

3/28/16
4/4/16

Praxis and Thesis Studio


Work
Summary memorandum of
Winter break research and
outline thesis statement and
work plan

Assignments, Reviews and


Products
Identify and contact potential
secondary advisors and thesis
project community partners

Group briefing
Individual work sessions
Group briefing
Individual work sessions

Secondary advisors selected and


notified to attend mid-term
review on 3/14/16 and final;
review on 5/13/16

No Class Presidents Day

In class review of individual


3000 word drafts of thesis

Group briefing
Individual work sessions
reviewing comments
In class review of mid-term
presentation of your praxis
development to date

3000 word draft, drafts diagrams,


maps and other supporting visual
materials of thesis due in class,
send digital copy by end of class
to primary and secondary
advisors for comments

Primary, secondary advisors, and


possible partners should be in
attendance on 3/14/16

Mid-term Project Review


Presentations will run on the half
hour from 12:30-5:30 pm in
Room 515

Presentation structure: 15-minute


individual presentations, followed
by 15- minute review advisors,
faculty and guests

SPRING BREAK

Individual research and


production

Group briefing
Individual work sessions
Group briefing
Individual work sessions

6000 word draft, drafts diagrams,


maps and other supporting visual

materials of thesis due in class,


send digital copy by end of class
to primary and secondary
advisors for comments
WEEK 11

4/11/16

Group briefing
Individual work sessions
reviewing comments

WEEK 12

4/18/16

Group briefing
Individual work sessions

WEEK 13

WEEK 14

4/25/16

5/2/16

WEEK 15

Individual work sessions on


presentation pamphlet text and
image
Group briefing
Individual work sessions

Monday
5/9/16

Individual work sessions on final


power point presentations ( 60
minute sessions in room 1107, 2
West 13th Street, starting at 9
am.)
Final printed thesis and PPT due
in class by 3pm.

Friday
5/13/15

Final Presentation DUE 4


Section B: Morrish

Friday
5/6/16

Sketch diagram final thesis


presentation and document.

Presentation Pamphlet: 750 word


text and images due to
publication designer and printer

SC HOOL POLIC IES


Responsibility
Students are responsible for all assignments, even if they are absent from class. Late
assignments, failure to complete the readings assigned for class discussion, and lack of
preparedness for in-class discussion and presentations will jeopardize your successful completion
of the course.
Participation
Class participation is an essential part of the course and includes: keeping up with reading,
coming to class regularly and on time, contributing meaningfully to class discussions, and
actively participating in group work.
Attendance
Regular, on-time class attendance is required. Students with repeated absences and/or lateness
for any reason risk a substantial negative impact to their grade, including failure. Excessive or
repeated instances of lateness may be counted as absences. Students who have three or more
absences risk failing the course.
C anvas
Use of the online Blackboard system, accessible through your My NewSchool account, is an
important component of class. Participation in periodic online assignments and discussion
groups may be required. However, such participation is not a substitute for active involvement
during class time.
Delays
In rare instances, the instructor may be delayed arriving to class. If s/he has not arrived by the
time class is scheduled to start, you must wait a minimum of thirty minutes before leaving. In the
event that the instructor will miss class entirely, a sign will be posted on the classroom door.
Plagiarism
Plagiarism or cheating of any kind in the course of academic work will not be tolerated.
Academic honesty includes accurate use of quotations, as well as appropriate and explicit
citation of sources in instances of paraphrasing and describing ideas, or of reporting on research
findings or any aspect of the work of others including that of instructors and other students.
These standards of academic honesty and citation of sources apply to all forms of academic
work: examinations, essays, theses, computer work, art and design work, oral presentations, and
other projects. It is the responsibility of students to learn the procedures specific to their
discipline for correctly and appropriately differentiating their own work form that of others.
Compromising your academic integrity may lead to serious consequences, including (but not
limited to) one or more of the following: failure of the assignment, failure of the course,
academic warning, disciplinary probation, suspension from the university, or dismissal from the
university.
Every student at Parsons signs an Academic Integrity Statement as part of the registration
process. With this signature, you certify that you are familiar with and understand, and will

adhere to and uphold, the spirit and standards of academic integrity as set forth in the Parsons
Student Handbook.
Student Disability Services
Any student who needs special academic accommodations because of a disability should meet
with Jason Luchs in the Office of Student Disability Services. Mr. Luchs will conduct an intake
interview, and if appropriate, provide an academic accommodation notification letter for the
student to bring to his/her professors. Professors will review the letter with the student and
discuss these accommodations in relation to their specific courses. Mr. Luchs office is located at
79 Fifth Avenue, 5th Floor. The office number is 212.229.5626. You may also find more
information at: http://www.newschool.edu/studentservices/disability