The College of Environmental Design at UC Berkeley was founded in 1959 on the radical premise that the new field of environmental design was fundamental to the future of urban settlement. This premise is as valid today as it was then. But many of the specific challenges facing cities were not on our radar in the 1950s — nor were the sorts of challenges facing public higher education today.
With this context in mind, in 2012 CED launched a collaborative strategic planning project to map a future that inspires us to respond to the demands of our time. This process articulated our vision and values, and created a roadmap for distinction and impact: CED Frontiers. I’m delighted to share the highlights of our plan in this issue of FRAMEWORKS.
CED’s 21st Century Vision, Values and Goals
The College of Environmental Design provides leadership to address the world’s most pressing urban challenges through rigorous research and scholarship, design excellence, innovative pedagogy, open debate, craft and skill-building, critical and theoretical practice, and insights from both the academy and professional practice. Within this broad vision, we value:
- Excellent and accessible public higher education
- Sustainable design, planning and urbanism
- Aesthetic quality, craft, and technological innovation
- Visionary yet pragmatic design practice
- Critical pedagogy and cross-disciplinary learning
- Social, economic, and environmental justice
- Ecological and public health
- Local-global engagement and activism
- Respect for place, community, and diversity
- Ethical professional practice and research
Moving forward, we aspire to achieve six key goals:
- 1. Claim the Berkeley difference, building on our heritage of design and planning activism
- 2. Embrace diverse standpoints, experimenting with new ways to understand and embrace social difference
- 3. Bridge intellectual fault lines, crossing the boundaries of established disciplines to create new knowledge
- 4. Span local and global, linking multiple scales of understanding, activism, and practice
- 5. Assess environmental design performance, related to adaptation, resilience, and sustainability
- 6. Transform professional practice, from today’s best practices to practices for the future
Six Game-Changing Initiatives
Our vision, values and goals set our course, and concrete initiatives allow us to achieve them. Together, the CED community identified “game-changing” initiatives that are: clear and actionable; mobilize human and physical resources; lead to institutional transformation; and promote recognition of CED’s leadership. They aspire to extend the impact of our research and creative practice, create inclusive and cross-disciplinary pedagogy, and transform our home in Wurster Hall to encourage collaboration and the sharing of new ideas.
EXTENDING THE REACH OF RESEARCH & CREATIVE PRACTICE
Initiative 1: Research Impact
To better support research at CED, this initiative would assist the Center for Environmental Design Research (CEDR) and the Institute for Urban & Regional Development (IURD) to broaden their reach and influence, grow faculty involvement and participation, and improve our capacity to communicate research results and creative accomplishments. Major action: New associate dean for research to coordinate and disseminate research.
Initiative 2: Design and Technology Lab
To spur design innovation at CED, this initiative proposes a design and technology lab for design experimentation, product and materials research, rapid prototyping, and CAD/CAM innovation. Such a lab would also attract partners and become a venue for professional dialogue. Major action: Establishment of CED Design and Technology Lab.
CREATING INCLUSIVE & CROSS-DISCIPLINARY PEDAGOGY
Initiative 3: Diversity Platforms
This initiative will enhance the cultural life of the College by developing co-curricular programs (such as cultural events, student-led courses, and public interest charrettes) to introduce students to the relational, interconnected and hybrid nature of increasingly globalized identities. Major actions: New curriculum and events focused on diversity, identity, and the built environment.
Initiative 4: Curriculum Crossroads
To promote interdisciplinary work within CED, this initiative will create all-college curriculum, debates, joint research, and curated conversations that span intellectual fault lines, build disciplinary and geographic bridges, and address contemporary and future problems. Major action: Super-studio opportunities for all CED students integrated into curriculum.
BUILDING COMMUNITY SPACES & COMMON GROUND
Initiative 5: Flex Studios
This initiative focuses on redesigning studio space with flexible, movable furnishings and collaborative space, to provide multiple platforms for creativity, research and design collaboration, and to allow learning spaces to serve as better models for collaborative professional practice. Major action: CED Campaign for 21st Century Studios.
Initiative 6: Networked Spaces
Creating additional collective social and public spaces, this initiative will serve to build CED identity; promote cross-unit, cross-cohort, and cross-cultural interaction; curate student and faculty design work; and build shared cultural spaces for intellectual and professional debate, design exploration, collaboration and sociality. Major action: New café/patio space and redesigned review spaces.
The strategic planning process generated a wealth of ideas and proposals, productive disagreements, and new commitments to collaborate and innovate. Stay tuned as the plan unfolds, and CED moves onward and upward!