Sustainable Work and Workplaces

Spring 2016 quarter

Taught by

physics, sustainable design
politics and government


Students must be able to spend extensive time in-studio.

Like other aspects of present-day life, most jobs and workplaces as now arranged are unsustainable—resource intensive, uncomfortable, often unsatisfying, oppressive, or ugly. Clues are emerging, however, that point toward sustainability in both planetary and personal terms. Job definitions that value initiative and collaboration are developing alongside physical workplaces that support these qualities. This program will take a design studio approach to understanding the potentials and limitations of these ongoing developments. Readings, lectures, films, interviews, and students’ own personal accounts will provide background for studio projects of two kinds: case studies of existing or proposed on-campus workplaces, such as the Flaming Eggplant Café, Lab Stores, or the Construction Lab, and visionary designs for improving work environments in selected real-world occupations. Projects will culminate in poster displays, 3-D models and full-scale mockups.

This program will bring together students with a variety of talents and backgrounds—visual, design-based, technical, psychological, organizational—in ways that develop their skills and enrich their understanding of how to use them effectively in real-world situations. Issues of management, energy, sensory perception, ecology, and politics all weave together to make the fabric of work and workplaces, and we will attend to all these strands. The program will be genuinely all-level, and will share some activities with the graduate elective, Brave New Workplace. The topic calls on personal experience, societal patterns, and physical arrangements in ways that are rarely studied at any level. The concepts and methods will require good thinking but not extensive previous background. All students will find challenge; they will also find that their previous work experience and future work intentions are relevant raw material to our inquiry. Between studio time and required research and readings, students should expect to spend a full 40 hours per week on program work, in or out of class.

We will have a class schedule of a steady kind. There will be meetings on campus for a mixture of seminars, design labs, lectures, films and workshops. The studio will be open for student access outside class times, throughout the entire quarter.

Program Details

Fields of Study

Preparatory for studies or careers in

business, management, architecture, interior design, and urban sustainability.

Academic Website

Location and Schedule

Campus location



Offered during: Day

Advertised schedule: Tues 1-5pm and 5-10pm; Thurs 9-1pm; Fri 1-5pm.  First spring class meeting: Tuesday, March 29 at 1pm (Annex 2101).


Buy books for this program through Greener Bookstore.

Online Learning

Enhanced Online Learning: Access to web-based tools required, but use of these tools does not displace any face-to-face instruction.

Schedule Details

Event Outside of Regular Schedule: Saturday, April 23 (week 4) and Saturday, May 21 (week 8) from 9am-5pm.

Required Fees

$10 for studio supplies.

Special Expenses

At least $25 in light-duty studio supplies (markers, tape, box cutter, metal rule, etc.)

Registration Information

Credits: 16 (Spring)

Class standing: Freshmen–Senior; 25% of the seats are reserved for freshmen

Maximum enrollment: 36


Course Reference Numbers

Fr (16 credits): 30096
So - Sr (16 credits): 30099

Go to to register for this program.

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