RISD Summer Programs course: Civic Ecologies: Designing for a Changing Urban Climate

Civic Ecologies: Attending to a Difference in Urban Design

Students in this course focus on a key theoretical tension in urban ecological praxis; urban ecology and postcoloniality. In the first half of the course, we will engage with an appreciative inquiry approach focused on the conceptual framing of civic ecology. This frame draws from the field of natural resources management, a field that incorporates insights from sociology, psychology and anthropology to support community-led environmental actions. In the second half of the course we will situate ecological praxis through a postcolonial lens, with a focus on the pluralities of ecological ways of knowing. Situating these practices opens up questions about whose knowledge and what ways of knowing are being utilized in ecological praxis, in this case focusing still on small ground-up approaches.

This course is interdisciplinary and yet remains conceptually bounded by keeping the focus on ground-up ecological praxis. Throughout the course, students will investigate their own lived experience and positionality, developing and sharing stories of their orientation to caring for meaningful places. Through the transdisciplinary study of place, students learn about situated stewardship practices, particularly in the context of social and environmental justice. As a final project, students create a multimedia “story” of a civic ecology practice of their choosing.

RISD degree students: Satisfactory completion of this course with a ‘C’ or better can count as 3 transfer credits toward the HPSS elective requirements. This course offers 3 transfer credits with pre-approval from the Liberal Arts department using the Prior Approval for Liberal Arts Credit Form. Complete the electronic form in etrieve and then complete the online course registration.

Course #3264
Bryce DuBois

June 21–July 30, 2021
Online, No required meeting times

Tuition $2,300
3 Credits


Bryce DuBois

Bryce DuBois is a public space advocate, educator and social scientist who works in the nexus between communities, public space and urban ecology in the context of change and uncertainty. He is an environmental psychologist who draws from fields of psychology, geography, anthropology and natural resources in order to contribute to a better understanding of complex environmental conflicts and to support community-level responses. Most of his work is focused on urban coastal areas of New York City and, more recently, Rhode Island. His dissertation, Beaches, People and Change, was an ethnographic work focused on the restoration of NYC’s Rockaway Beach after Hurricane Sandy and the related conflicts over inequities in resource distribution. Dubois has contributed to several journal articles, book chapters and research reports related to environmental education, environmental stewardship, community gardens, social-ecological resilience and ethnographies of parks. An assistant professor in RISD’s History, Philosophy and the Social Sciences department, he holds a BA from Salve Regina University, MA from University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, and PHD from CUNY Graduate Center.