Sustainable Cities Projects

Several collaborative courses and projects have emerged from the work done by the faculty and students affiliated with the Sustainable Cities Doctoral Initiative (SCDI).

These projects, along with the faculty and students that are associated with them, are listed below:

Sustainable Cities Seminar

Each Fall semester, Community and Regional Planning Professor Sarah Dooling has led a seminar for graduate students from the SCDI and other affiliated disciplines. These seminars explore theories of sustainability, and the implementation of practices aimed to enhance sustainability. The guiding philosophy of the course is that theory can inform practice and, likewise, practice can lead to the refinement of theory.  

This Fall, SCDI students will be exploring pedagogy as a vehicle for interdisciplinary collaboration, and are working to develop and teach a signature course for undergraduates and students in professional programs about sustainable cities in the 2012-13 academic year.  This work will build upon research gathered in the Summer of 2011, where professors from across UT shared their insights about their experiences with integrating sustainability education into their courses.

Sustainable Colonias Housing

In Spring 2010, Professor Peter Ward, in the LBJ School of Public Affairs, led a seminar on sustainable affordable housing strategies at the urban fringe.  Recently, Ward was awarded a $100,000 grant from the Ford Foundation. The grant will fund research on sustainable housing policy and policy development for self-help in the Texas colonias and other similar areas. The project will build upon data collected for the following Spring 2010 student reports: 

Building a Sustainable Region

In Spring 2010, Community and Regional Planning Professor Michael Oden led a course on Building a Sustainable Region, looking at proposed strategies and their basis in empirical research.  

Working Paper Series

At the end of his Spring 2010 course, Professor Michael Oden also identified the need for a Working Paper Series forum that would allow students and faculty participating in the Sustainable Cities Doctoral Initiative to share preliminary results of ongoing research and design studies in order to encourage discussion, collaboration, and constructive suggestions for revision prior to final publication in a peer-reviewed journal.

All papers are focused on sustainability issues and the built environment, and student submissions are encouraged but must include a faculty sponsor (although a faculty co-author is not required), encouraging collaboration and mentoring between faculty and students and across disciplines. Each working paper submitted to the Series is reviewed by at least two reviewers who provide comments to the author(s).  

Retrofitting Suburbia Interdisciplinary Advanced Design Studio

This fall of 2011, SCDI faculty fellow and Director of the Graduate Program in Sustainable Design, Steven Moore will teach the first of four interdisciplinary design studios focused on developing sustainable solutions for existing and future suburbs. These studios also received funding from the Meadows Foundation Curriculum Grant.

This first studio will more specifically investigate the related phenomena of gentrification and suburbanization. Comparison of census data from 2000 and 2010 demonstrates a dramatic relocation of the African-American community in Austin from the near east-side to Pflugerville, Manor, and southeast Austin. The reasons for the diaspora of Austin’s African-American population may be mixed, but the consequences are certainly environmentally unsustainable and socially inequitable. In this context the studio will attempt to answer a single research question: Is it possible to make a selected existing subdivision both sustainable AND desirable to African-American residents?

The studio is listed as having a “service-learning” component. This term reflects the idea that the collaboration of university and community learners is symmetrical—both parties have knowledge required for the successful realization of the project and that both parties will benefit equally. Our responsibility to serve the community will be taken very seriously and will provide a pedagogical context that should challenge the traditional values of “studio culture.”

The three studios to follow will be taught by:.