CALL FOR STUDENT APPLICANTS: Funded JHU Sustainable Design Practicum, AY 2020/2021

The grave environmental problems of the present, affecting communities and ecosystems from the scale of city blocks to the planet, can be tackled only through imaginative work between diverse intellectual disciplines and professional fields, bringing scholarly knowledge to bear on practical challenges and difficulties. To contribute to this effort, the Hopkins Ecological Design Initiative (HEDI) at Johns Hopkins University is excited to announce a 2020/2021 Sustainable Design Practicum: a funded year-long project-based course series providing students with interdisciplinary sustainable design training in informed, practical skills. The Practicum involves participation in a fall semester theory and methods course (3 credits), a spring semester design studio (3 credits), and an organizational internship (credits optional). With the support of the JHU Provost’s office, we are currently seeking six PhD Fellows (three from the Whiting School of Engineering and three from the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences) and six upper-division undergraduate Fellows (from WSE or KSAS) interested in gaining sustainable design experience through critical engagement with Baltimore area communities and ecologies. 

The Sustainable Design Practicum will train students to create conditions for collaborative social change through collective and relational ecological design practices. We build Fellows’ capacity to think critically and ecologically in order to design sustainable interventions, through multiple modes of learning: (1) expert-guided methodological instruction and collaborative exploration of these methods, (2) interdisciplinary sustainable design theory and human-centered design process, and (3) practical, real-world problem-solving with organizations working to improve social and ecological outcomes in the Baltimore area. The Practicum aims to equip Fellows with skills and training for careers in diverse fields of environmental planning, practice, and policy by preparing them to bridge technical and humanistic orientations in engaging the ecological and social imperatives of our times. 

The Practicum will provide Fellows with both technical, project-based learning and qualitative, ethnographic training for social, ecological, and material intervention. We will build upon expertise from the fields of engineering, the humanities, the social sciences, and social design, as well as numerous local academic and industry experts in sustainable design. Fellows will partner with a local organization working in environment, sustainability, and design to implement a project throughout the academic year. Fellows will utilize participatory design methods to develop ecological solutions for concrete problems tackled by their partner organization. 

The fall course, led by Prof. Anand Pandian, will focus on providing theory and methods related to practices of sustainable design. The course will cover sustainable design theory, working in concert with guest experts leading classes on methods and case studies from the qualitative social sciences; environmental engineering; and planning, design, and landscape architecture. The spring studio course, led by Prof. Nicole Labruto, will focus on developing and completing the design project, facilitated in part by MICA Center for Social Design faculty. 

The Practicum is structured to develop the collaborative, interdisciplinary, and problem-oriented thinking required by careers in sustainability. Graduate fellows will each receive a personal stipend of $3,000, and undergraduate fellows will each receive a personal stipend of $1,000. Information about funding for partner organizations will be provided to Fellows. Applicants are required to complete a brief online application, and submit a CV and unofficial transcript. Final approval of admission will require a brief note of support from an academic advisor or mentor. Apply here by June 15, or for more details, please contact us at ecodesign@jhu.edu.