Through a series of cross-disciplinary graduate seminars and studios, students explore and develop new approaches to participatory engagement and design which encourage activism, challenge assumptions, and facilitate a prolonged and deeper engagement process by using mapping and visualization as a synthetic, analytic and formative research tool. Students will analyze, synthesize and visualize archival research, engage in field research as comparative analysis, and investigate and reflect on the effect of the mapping process on how data is understood.
Intense observation and interaction with census data, the physical environment and the official and unofficial archival history, allows students to engage in a rich and triangulated approach to historical and social research. They use the tools of mapping and synthesis as a way to make meaning of their findings and explain it to a wider audience.
The courses engage students in critical discussions of research and analysis methodologies, i.e., the how, but also will attempt to foreground the why.
- How might the mapping process uncover hidden findings or data?
- What role do these visualization techniques have in coding and decoding urban phenomena?
- What is the rhetorical value and how might we, as designers, acknowledge the argument that we make through the process of synthesis?
- How might mapping and the role of the designer affect the research process?
- What value is added or lost through visualizing complexity?
These goals are achieved through a series of mapping assignments which build on one another to both analyze the content of the course (topics such as a city’s diverse history, contemporary situation, and future opportunities) as well as interrogate the role of mapping in design research.