Sustainable Cities

sustainable cities

T/R, 9:30 -10:45 a.m., FALL 2021
GEAR 129

Interested? Current students can apply online. Deadline: 11:59 p.m. Wednesday, March 31, 2021.
Questions? Contact John Treat

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More than 50% of the world’s population now lives in cities. Cities will continue to be the predominant living condition as people seek urban opportunities. Cities also have the potential to mitigate climate change, pollution, biodiversity loss, and other key sustainability challenges of the 21st century.

This course will investigate the many layers of the city—from the meaning of cities to cities as nested, but non-linear systems—including infrastructure, natural systems, and cities as narrative and people’s stories. Students will look at key challenges to sustainable cities in the 21st century, including:

• Urban sprawl
• Unequitable access to resources and environmental injustices
• Resilience in the face of climate change (e.g., flooding, sea rise)
• Threats to urban water quality and waterbodies/watersheds
• Loss of countryside, habitat, and farmland
• Lack of public space and walkable neighborhoods
• Single-use zoning
• Loss of sense of place
• Informal urbanism/squatter settlements

Students will then investigate many facets of the sustainable city, including landscape function and aesthetics; built urban fabric; government policies; transportation and transit; infrastructure liabilities and repurposing; conservation of resources such as water and energy; regional and urban ecology and habitat; and social structures and environmental justice.

They will also learn about adaptive solutions attempting to address these issues, including urban sprawl repair, tactical urbanism, the rise of small-scale developers, the emergence of grassroots community development organizations, and the adaptive reuse and densification of suburban residential neighborhoods.

Students will understand patterns, processes, and policies associated with these various adaptive urban solutions, both in the developing world and North America. Students will then apply their new knowledge to creative and strategic proposals for sustainable cities.

Course Credit:

  • All students: 3 hours of honors credit
  • Fay Jones School: Upper-level honors credit in landscape architecture
  • Fulbright College:
    • Natural science or social sciences colloquium
    • Upper-level honors credit in sustainability
  • Walton College: honors colloquium

About Noah Billig:

Landscape architecture professor draws/brainstorms in studio.Noah Billig, Ph.D., ASLA, is an associate professor of landscape architecture and planning in the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design at the University of Arkansas. He teaches design studios and courses in public participation, adaptive urban design, environmental design and planning, the American landscape, and study abroad in Turkey and Italy. He serves as the honors director for the Fay Jones School and as director of the urban and regional planning minor.

Billig has lived, taught, researched and practiced in Minneapolis, Istanbul, Vienna and Fayetteville, Arkansas. This includes working as an urban design instructor at Istanbul Technical University, a landscape designer for Arzu Nuhoglu Peyzaj Tasarim, and as a teacher in Minneapolis Public Schools. His research focuses on adaptive design and planning, including participatory design and planning engagement; environmental justice; generative design; and perceptions of environments. This work learns from ecological and generative processes, both social and physical, to address wicked problems with nimble, resilient approaches for cities and landscapes.