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

Civic Ecologies: Designing for a Changing Urban Climate

Cities and their neighborhoods are where cultural history, communal use, wildlife conservation, green infrastructure, and urban growth and decay interface. The concept of civic ecology seeks to understand how and why people care for their community, and ultimately shape their urban and natural environment. In this course, we will discuss the emerging understanding of cities as urban ecosystems and how designers can recognize and support those people who are most disenfranchised, including those experiencing post natural disasters or war. Lectures, readings and videos highlight how civic ecology practices are co-producers with communities to address the challenges of when race and class, urban and suburban, gender and sexuality, public and private, bodies and buildings intersect.

Through the interdisciplinary study of place in combination with practices of biophilic design, students learn about ecological stewardship and restoration in the context of social and environmental justice. Participation in a service-learning project offers students first-hand observation of, and engagement in, a local civic ecology practice working to restore and revitalize a neighborhood. As a final project, students create a multimedia “story” of a civic ecology practice of their choosing.

For RISD degree students, satisfactory completion of this course with a ‘C’ or better can count as 3 transfer credits toward the HPSS elective requirements.

Course #3264
Bryce DuBois

Schedule B
June 25–July 31, 2020
Thursdays + Fridays
9 am–12:30 pm (no class 7/3)

Tuition $2,975
Tuition for RISD Alumni and Students $2,380

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. An assistant professor in RISD’s History, Philosophy and the Social Sciences department, DuBois holds a BA from Salve Regina University, MA from University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, and PHD from CUNY Graduate Center.