UCLAx Cradle to Cradle: class 1


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This is one in a series of documents that follow my UCLA winter 2010 course titled Cradle to Cradle: Closed Loop Systems. This interdisciplinary course contributes to the school's Certificate of Global Sustainability.

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UCLAx Cradle to Cradle: class 1

  1. 1. UCLAx class 1 1 UCLAx Cradle to Cradle: class 1 Every first class is probably similar. We do the typical "getting to know you" kind of activities. I showed the class a few slides of past work and gave a basic overview of experience and background in order to reassure them that the school hasn’t hired a hack to take on this course, and they each told the rest of us something about themselves. One thing that really interested me was the diversity of professional backgrounds. We have architects, landscape architects, artists, industrial engineers, marketers, a doctor, a food manufacturer, a product manufacturer rep., and many more. There are more varied experiences than I was anticipating. And it’s a group not afraid to talk and express their opinions. I like that. During the quarter, we’ll be tackling a number of topics connected to cradle to cradle thinking and sustainable strategies, but we’ll also be engaged in four projects. There will be one that lasts the entire course length called the disassembly project, whose primary objective is to offer students a better understanding of the complexity of everyday objects and how most of us don’t have a clue how those objects are manufactured, what they are made of, and what can be done to improve them, from an environmental perspective. Each student will be required to identify an object or product that is common, or one they take for granted. For the next twelve weeks we’ll dismantle that object, analyze its component parts, trace back each material or part, research the history of the those materials and parts, and conceptualize a better way to produce that same object through a cradle to cradle lens. There will also be three profile projects - one focused on materials and resources, one focused on companies and people, and one focused on certifications and labels. With these three, students will pick one for each and research history, use, context, and other factors of interest. Here too, the reason for investigation is that few us really know where products come from, what they are made of, who makes them, and what kind of testing or grading is required to bring them to market. I’m hopeful that these four projects will offer students the opportunity to interlink each and get even more out of each individual project. Although the course title is Cradle to Cradle: Closed Loop Systems, we will not be following the book Cradle to Cradle by William McDonough and Michael Braungart. As a indispensable contribution to the topic, we will use the book as required reading, but will not be working from it. Instead, to give the idea of cradle to cradle some context, we’ll be following our Transition Template. This tool is one we use with clients to help them chart a path from industrial age thinking to sustainable age action. With only twelve classes in the www.threadcollaborative.com ➜ threadcollaborative 11250 morrison street no. 201, north hollywood ca 91601
  2. 2. UCLAx class 1 2 quarter, we will not be able to cover every element of the Transition Template, but we will cover at least eight - resource preservation, waste reduction, closed loop systems, energy conservation, embodied energy, eliminate toxins, community engagement, and life cycle analysis. Each of these topics will be the focus of one class. To cover the topics, we will be enlisting the assistance of outside parties who make that particular topic a primary focus of their work. For example, we will do a field trip to the new InterfaceFLOR showroom in downtown Los Angeles to discuss waste reduction. No other industrial company has done more to reduce their waste production over the past decade. The folks at InterfaceFLOR will give the students an inside look at the efforts being made at the company. With introductions, lots of conversation, and a presentation of projects, tasks, class topics, and other housecleaning items, we actually ran long and had to be asked to leave the building. But all in all, I’m excited about the students and their eagerness to dive into this subject and learn all they can. www.threadcollaborative.com ➜ threadcollaborative 11250 morrison street no. 201, north hollywood ca 91601