The cumulative effects of agriculture, industrialization, and urbanization are unequivocally changing our climate and producing globally unprecedented challenges related to food production, building materials, and human and ecosystem health, and exacerbating conditions that promote the spread of pandemic diseases, and these challenges are disproportionately affecting low-income communities and communities of color. This is not new. Our built environments create impacts on all of the above forces, and play a critical role in the creation of, and potential dismantling of, inequitable conditions of living and human and ecosystem health. How do we as designers of buildings and cities contribute to climate change and its deeply-rooted, systemic impacts, and what can we do now to turn our impact positive? How do we recognize, through our planning and building processes, the links between human health in our communities, particularly in communities of color, and the health of the planet and its ecosystems? How do we designing for climate justice, carbon neutrality, and equitable impact of positive change? And how do we reform our pedagogical approaches in our academies to ensure equitable climate considerations “go without saying”?
Building on the successful first dialogue in this event series, “Moving Towards Gender Equity in Architecture,” and on ongoing efforts at the school to prioritize climate change as a fundamental consideration in all of our courses—including Dean Addington’s 2019–2020 welcome letter, to the SOA’s leading role in University-wide research initiatives such as Planet Texas 2050, to the hiring of new faculty to the Sustainable Design program—our event will bring together guests who represent city, landscape, and environmental design, and environmental and climate justice to have a conversation about where we are now in the design fields, where we need to be, and how to get there to ensure the health of our planet and its people. It will provide practical tools that we can use now, in our current academic culture and practices, to begin to shift our building climate for the better of earth’s climate.
In the same way that CAAD gives faculty a platform from which to be seen, heard, and read, we also want to provide this service to our students. The dialogue series aims to address issues that are important to them and that they face in their classroom culture every day, and to put people in conversation with them who can help them understand how to clarify and use their voices for the betterment of their experience in school, and of the profession they are bringing their voices into.