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Design & the Green New Deal

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Tuesday, 22 October 2019, 6:00

Tuesday, October 22, 2019. 6:00PM. Design & the Green New Deal. Billy Fleming, University of Pennsylvania. Sponsored by Institute of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences, Department of Landscape Architecture, and Eagleton Institute of Politics.  More information and registration link here.

Design and the Green New Deal

I don’t know when the myth of landscape architects as climate saviors began, but I know it’s time to kill it. Design is an instrument of power, not an agent of change. For too long, designers have relied upon the mythology of a lone genius, working tirelessly and alone, to solve the existential crises of their day. But these theories of change, predicated on the existence of a great man or woman, misunderstand the way that power is structured and change is made. Can a set of practices tied to luxury real estate and urban development deliver anything meaningful to the frontline communities of climate change? Can we act both as instruments of neoliberalism and as an activist, subversive force in the fight for climate justice?

These questions are at the heart of the movement driving the Green New Deal. Though it has necessarily been led by economists, scientists, and organizers, the Green New Deal is also the biggest design and environmental idea in a century. It’s primary aims—to decarbonize the economy and adapt the entire nation to climate change—would require a total transformation of the built and natural environment, including the construction of a new clean energy grid, the maximal energy efficient retrofit of every structure, the managed retreat of tens of millions of people, and a massive reorganization of land use at a national scale. We have to build so much, so fast, and so much better than we’ve ever done before. And the Green New Deal is the only idea on the table that might make this possible.

So what would a world designed by the Green New Deal look like? How can designers find their way into this movement? That’s what this lecture will be about.

About the Speaker
Dr. Fleming is the Wilks Family Director of the Ian L. McHarg Center for Urbanism and Ecology in the Stuart Weitzman School of Design. He is the co-editor and co-curator of Design With Nature Now (2019), the co-editor of The Adaptation Blueprint (2021), the co-author of The Indivisible Guide (2016), and the author of Drowning America (Penn Press, 2020). Before joining Penn, he worked as policy adviser in the White House Domestic Policy Council’s office of Urban Affairs. Billy is a graduate of the University of Arkansas Fay Jones School of Architecture, the University of Texas School of Architecture, and the University of Pennsylvania School of Design. He’s a first-generation college graduate and lives in Philadelphia with his perfect dog and chonky cat.

Location  Rutgers Academic Building-Room 2400, 15 Seminary Place, New Brunswick, NJ