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Sustainability & Social Practice

The Concentration in Sustainability and Social Practice-the first of its kind among art colleges-prepares students to engage their creative practice with the social and ecological issues facing the world today, earning the knowledge, language, and skills necessary to excel in this emerging field.

Artists and designers wish to be cultural contributors; for many, this means acting as agents of social change, often through a proactive involvement with sustainability, climate change, and social responsibility-issues which are also the primary drivers of many professional fields. And while higher education has seen a rapid growth of programs in these areas, until recently, these have been largely restricted to the fields of science, engineering, and medicine. This new concentration allows visual artists to connect their practice with these global issues and prepares them to become professionally engaged in the areas of sustainability and social practice as artists, designers, entrepreneurs, or scholars.

Sustainable practice has practical results, and students in the concentration will find pragmatic solutions that reflect the three pillars of sustainability-environment, economy, and social justice. The social practice aspect gives students the opportunity to contribute to a fine arts discourse around environmental and urban issues, and to pursue new knowledge as they discover ways to engage the concepts of sustainability through social engagement. Because students move seamlessly between applied, fine, and liberal arts, they will also form hybrid models of study between disciplines, becoming better prepared for recent changes in the professional fields of art and design. The skills and knowledge that students will gain can be applied to many fields, both preexisting and emerging. Arts and social organizations, government and the business community will require participation and creative problem solving from artists and designers as they move toward ecologically- and socially-responsible practices. Students in the program can go on to work for architectural and urban planning firms, form socially-engaged collaborative art groups, or work in urban agriculture, among many other possibilities.

The issues of sustainability and social practice are not specific to any one field, material, or discipline, and, as such, this 15-credit concentration is a cross-departmental program open to all majors. Students must take one required studio course, as well as two studio electives and two academic electives, and they have access to courses throughout the MICA curriculum that focus on ecology, sustainability, urban studies, and social engagement. The menu of electives is designed to be flexible and will adjust to new course offerings; this gives students the opportunity to design a progression of courses that accurately supports their respective backgrounds and developing interests, a necessity in such a rapidly changing field. Students will also participate in a year-end colloquium session involving student presentations, discussion, and project exhibitions.

Requirements for the Sustainability and Social Practice Concentration

Course TitleCourse #Credits
Climate Change and Sustainability for Artists and Designers GFA 343 3
Choose two from the following:
Center for Design Practice CDP 350
Intro Object Design AD 252
Object Design II ENV 266
Urban Design ENV 400
Art, Artists and the City ENV 309
The Urban Environment ENV 330
Living With Climate Change ENV 377
Finding Baltimore FF 148
Fabric of Conscience FB 370
Cooperative: The Sewing Circle FB 415
Design Coalition GD 323
Design for Change GD 433
Package Design GD 365
Branding GD 360
Water GFA 250
Imaging From Culture GFA 275
Cultural Perspectives GFA 307
Imaging From Current Events GFA 312
Sustainability and Propaganda IL 350
Social Practice Studio IS 240
Green Woodworking IS 280
Sustainable and Recyclable Materials IS 287
Baltimore Urban Farming IS 316
Public Art and Interventions IS 319
Water Works IS 355
Environmentally Concerned Photo PH 343
Social Documentary PH 346
Community Arts and Documentary VID 330
Internship INT 402
Subtotal 6
Choose two from the following:
Art Meets Ecology AH/PHIL 435
Food and Architecture AH 349
Architecture/Art and the Open City AH 377
Contemporary Global Urban Dynamics AH 378
Art, Artists and the City AH 470B
Colonial/Post Colonial/Post Modern AH 481
Conflict and Coexistence AH 485
Art in Nature AH 414
Urbanism IHST 276
Utopia and Aocalypse IHST 249
Urban History/Pre Industrial IHST 226 IH1
Man, Animal, Machine IHST 273 IH1
History of the American City IHST 271
Architectural and Social History of Baltimore IHST 251 IH2
Urbanism: Modern American City IHST 272 IH2
Ecology and Imagination LIT 357
Eco-Poetics, Language, Mind and Ecology LIT 418
Environmental Literature LIT 442
Environmental Science NSCI 210
Scientific Reading: Climatology NSCI 201C
Scientific Reading: Earth Science NSCI 201B
Biodiversity NSCI 229
The Scientific Revolution PHIL 277
Religion and American Consumerism RELG 369-TH
Native American Studies SSCI 275 IH2
Poverty and Homelessness SSCI 287
Social Problem SSCI 215
Activism and Social Theory SSCI 345
Capitalism and Its Critics SSCI 306-TH
Globalism and Its Discontent SSCI 323-TH
Urban Theory SSCI 373-TH
Subtotal 6
Total Credits for the Sustainability and Social Practice Concentration 15