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AGENCY, 2008 5th International Conference of the Architectural Humanities Research Association


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Andrea Wheeler (2008) Architectural and educational perspectives on Cmmunity and Individual Agency in Creating Sustainable Human Society. AGENCY 5th International COnference of the Architectural Humanities Research Association, The University of Sheffield

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AGENCY, 2008 5th International Conference of the Architectural Humanities Research Association

  1. 1. Architectural and educational perspectives on community and individual agency in creatingsustainable human society: Social cohesion and sustainable behaviour? Andrea Wheeler, BA (Hons) DipArch, MPhil, PhD ESRC Early Careers Interdisciplinary Research Fellow, The University of Nottingham, Institute of Architecture/and School of Education(ESRC Project (RES-152-27-0001): How Can We Design Schools As Better Learning Spaces and To Encourage Sustainable Behaviour? Co-Design Methodologies and Sustainable Communities.)
  2. 2. [A] “Policy is still being developed on the back of anachronistic understanding of howbehaviour is influenced and what makes people change. If we are to move beyondthe current limited policy approach, then new thinking is required …we may need tochange the structures, institutions and processes that govern how we live our lives,and the inequalities we experience in our society” (Lewis, 2007, 5).Lewis, Miranda (2007) States of Reason: Freedom, responsibility and thegoverning of behaviour change. IPPR.
  3. 3. [B] The problem of pro-environmental lifestyle change, of encouragingsustainable behaviour or of sustainable citizenship, is not simply aboutindividual choice.“The concept of sustainable behaviour suggests the need for anengagement with ‘human nature’ and social structures – and anunderstanding of the relationship between these two…”Gabriel and Lang 2006, Halpern et al 2003, Jackson 2008, 2006a&b,Darnton 2008
  4. 4. [C] Polly Griffiths ‘The role of young people in developing sustainablecommunities’ . William Scott similarly argues in his paper “Sustainable Schools: An initial appreciation and critique” that if schools are to take the challenges of sustainable development seriously, they will have to address thinking and working in profoundly different ways (Scott, 2007, 5) Scott, William (2007) “Sustainable Schools: An initial appreciation and critique” In Headteachers and Bursars Handbook for Sustainable Procurement. SCEMES Limited. Available at:
  5. 5. [D] Child-friendly Cities are a UINCEF Initiative, Rotterdam has just …buteven within this initiative there are import debates going on. We cannotcreate only ‘children’s spaces’ as if to relegate children from the city totheir own realms. We need play spaces, and social spaces and safe routesto school and home. Child friendly cities need to be integrated with schooldesigns, but the issue is a pegagogic one – to teach young people to howto negotiate and live in shared cities.
  6. 6. Pedagogies of connection…[E] I am arguing for the development of a ‘pedagogy of connection’ - which mayinclude a co-created set of values - and an integrated urban and architecturalstrategy that develops a better sense of sharing of school/city/world and it’sresources.Elaine Unterhalter suggests that ‘pedagogies of connection’ are essential todevelop the skills we need to respond to the social inequalities and instableclimate conditions global warming will bring.Jacqueline McGlade, Director of the European Environment Agency in the recent “Towardsa Post Carbon Society” Conference in Brussels argued that it is a change in ways of relatingthat we need: From valuing ownership of assets to valuing access to services. McGlade,Jacqueline (2007) “Economics, society and new challenges of climate change” apresentation made to the “Towards a Post Carbon Society” Conference at the EuropeanCommission Brussels, October 2007.
  7. 7. Amartya Sen
  8. 8. Social Cohesion…Definition of social cohesionTo have genuine social cohesion we need genuine humanagency.
  9. 9. How does architecture understand and architectural theoryinform understandings of the relationship between agencyand social cohesion? Social Cohesion, the policy perspective. Current modes of thinking in architecture about social cohesion. What models of agency are being adopted or assumed both by policy makers and architects wishing to comply with demands? BSF and Social Cohesion.
  10. 10. Designing New Schools and the Building Schools for the Future programmePedagogies of connection allow us to bridge the interdisciplinary divide between education andarchitecture and respond to the problem of how we might begin to encourage sustainable behaviour. Thereis an ethical dilemma within the discourse of sustainable behaviour over the potentially paternalismapproach of initiatives, but it is one that can be addressed …The Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme launched in 2004 is described as set up:To improve the fabric of school buildings, either through refurbishment or new build;At the same time as transforming learning and embedding sustainability into the educational experience.(House of Commons, Education and Skills Committee, “Sustainable Schools: Are we building schools for thefuture? Published 9th August 2007, p. 3 )2004Tony Blair, at the start of the programme, proposed: ‘Sustainable development will not just be a subject inthe classroom: it will be in its bricks and mortar and the way the school uses and even generates its ownpower. Our students won’t just be told about sustainable development, they will see and work within it: aliving, learning place in which to explore what a sustainable lifestyle means’.[1]1] Blair, 2004 PM Speech on Climate Change 14th September 2004, Archive No. 10 Downing Street,London, (accessed 06 May 2008)2007The more recent Children’s Plan: Building Brighter Futures, published in December 2007 by the Departmentfor Children, Schools and Families (DCSF), even states an ambition for all new school buildings to be zerocarbon by 2016.
  11. 11. Why use this tool? Because of the existingcriticisms Criticisms of BSF
  12. 12. How does architecture understand the relationshipbetween individual agency and sustainable behaviour? Sustainable Behaviour and the policy background. In January 2008 Defra published its framework for pro- environmental behaviours As with many government reports on lifestyle change, the focus is on individual behaviour, less on the relationship between the individual, his/her habits and social or community structures. BSF Architecture and changing behaviour?
  13. 13. How does architecture understand the relationshipbetween building community and sustainable behaviour? Architecture and community? Individual and Community Architecture and well-being BSF Extended Schools and Regeneration
  14. 14. How does education understand the relationship betweenagency and social cohesion? Children’s Rights and Every Child Matters. Children have the right to participate in decisions that effect their lives. Education policy and the defintion of social cohesion Educational criticisms Paulo Friere Pedagogies of Connection
  15. 15. How does education understand the relationship betweenindividual agency and sustainable behaviour?How does educational theory understand the role ofindividual agency in creating sustainable human society?From the earlier Rio convention education has been at the heart of ---- Education for Sustainable Development Sustainable Schools The conflict of participation and paternalisms – the ethical dilemma of lifestyle change.
  16. 16. How does education understand the relationship betweenbuilding community and social cohesion? BSF and social renegeration.
  17. 17. How does education understand the relationship betweenbuilding community and sustainable behaviour?How does educational theory think about pro-environmental lifestylechange and encouraging sustainable behaviour?Healthy Schools, citizenship, extended schools, schools as a focus forregeneration in deprived areas, inclusion. Amartya Sen and well-being: A capabilities approach.
  18. 18. How can we come to a more sophisicated and authenticunderstanidng suitable to the complexity of encouringsustainable behaviour and social cohesion? How canarchitecture fit eith this? What can architectural theorycontribute to a more refined understanding, and what caneducational theory add to criticisms of the currentundeveloped relationship between architectural design andeducational theory? How can I test these relationships?
  19. 19. The space to discover who I am, who you are…
  20. 20. MY METHODOLOGY? A developed/modified ‘grounded’approach using discourse analysis, conversationalanalysis, narrative analysis (analysis of narrative events)visual analysis. What are the problems with social science methodologies and the search for evidence and the need for evidence based policy decisions?
  21. 21. So what do children think? What do they think sustainable lifestyles are? What do they understand from teachers, fromculture and from the media? What do they think their schools will be like? And how do they see their relationship with the world and others in the future?
  22. 22. The workshopsI carried out workshops with young people aged 10-14/15 years old (Years 6-10) and some sixth-formers. I asked them about their experiences of school. I asked them a broad set of questions, aboutschool buildings, the school day, food, sport, how they travelled to school, playtime, play areas,hobbies, time out of school, their local environment, their friends and I listened when stories emerged– stories they wanted to tell me about good and bad behaviours, good and bad spaces, stories aboutadult behaviours and the conflicts they feel. The stories that most interested were those thatconstituted a sort of ‘event’ in the workshop and tended to be emotionally charged, (but there was alsoenthusiasm in design, and in design solutions discovered). I asked them to design, both separatelyand together- and was often asked to help and negotiate competing ideas in group exercises (I hadbeen introduced more often that not as the architect by children’s teachers). In each school I visited I set out to carry out 4 workshops with 4-6 students over a 4 week period, of between 1-2 hours each. Not all the students turned up every week, not all the groups were interested in the project, some decided not to attend weeks 3 and 4 and others were positive and enthusiastic and wanted to continue past the four weeks. Some groups wanted to talk more than they wanted to design and some wanted to design and not answer my questions. Sixth formers tended to be keen to discuss, 14 year olds tended to be suspicious, concerned with what others in the group thought, judged others in the group and wanted to know whether my research would really achieve anything (backing this up with their own stories).
  23. 23. What happened……and what did we talk about…• Excitement over solving a design problem (collective or individual) – including excitement about their own design idea.• Story telling events, in conversation and whilst designing – sometimes about real events and sometimes more imaginary stories about what happens in their schools they’ve designed. Also songs and making up rhymes.• Observations about the workshops themselves, the meaning or value of them, relating the workshops to the real, what I was doing as a researcher and what they thought about this, either in response to my questioning or emerging whilst designing. (Bigger thinking outside the workshops themselves).• Teasing others in the group. Boys verses girls (issues about difference - gender and race).
  24. 24. 1. “Global Warming Panic” DIALOGUE 1 V1: Has anyone seen that movie? The day after tomorrow?The media portrayal of V2: Yesenvironmental change loomed V1: Some people that that is going to happen, the day after tomorrow.large, the young peoples’ V3: Oh is that the one where the earth gets flooded? Yes,stories expressed a real the world all gets flooded and stuff like that.problem of how do we get V4: I gave all my clothes to the Tsunami when that happened.young people to behave V3: What do you wear then?responsibly towards a broader V2: I don’t know what’s going to happen to the world, who knows what’s going to really happen. Whether we’reand future other whose world going to get finished off by flooding, whether it’s going to fly into the Sun, whether we’re all going to die due towe cannot know and where our global warming.action has no immediate or V3: We’ve got a few years left.apparent effect? V2: Whether the Magma’s going to come out and flood the world with Magma. Who knows whether someone will create a Zombie virus and bring Zombies, dead people back to life. Who knows if aliens don’t exist and they might destroy the earth. I’m just coming up with theories about what might happen to the earth. I’m thinking be might implode.
  25. 25. 2. “Is it our responsibility?” DIALOGUE 2 AW: What do you think it would take to make people behave more sustainably?Whilst young people felt V1: There’s a lot of rubbish on the field, more bins around theconfused by media back for the school… […] V2: Supermarkets are saying to people [to recycle], but theyportrayals of the dangers of put drinks in packets and wrappers […]environmental change and V3: On some packing it says you can recycle it, but someglobal warming they also people just chuck it on the floor […] V2: Because one some games, computer games, there’s likequestioned me on whose plastic and you’ve got to separate it […] they should makeresponsibility it was. Should an easier way to recycle.I really be trying to change V3: It’s not just like the public getting it wrong because the Government aren’t really doing much about it […] andtheir and others they are sending it to India!behaviours? AW: Yeah, I saw that TV programme too. V2: Everyone is just worrying about the credit crunch, the credit crunch at the moment. V3: It might be about the public, but it is the Government as well.
  26. 26. 3. “It costs more to be environmentally friendly doesn’t it? “Greed, consumerism and other vices?””DIALOGUE 3AW: Do you think the credit crunch […] or the ‘economic crisis’ AW: Do you think people could stop behaving like this? has something to do with global warming? V1: Some kids get spoilt abit sometimes […] becauseV1: Yeah [boys responding to the question] kids get spoilt my Dad started saying things I don’tV1: Because the banks are lending money, but people aren’t need and I want I have to buy it myself. It teaches paying it back… me how it’s going to be like when I grow up. You’re limited in what you can buy. And one’s that getV2: Because it’s like [a man] maxed out like six credit cards spoilt should do it as well […] because when they’re and killed himself, and then his wife had to pay it off. older it’s not going to happen and you need to workV1: Because like if moneys gone out of your bank account you for it. won’t have enough money to buy light bulbs.V2: People want, want, want, they want to go on holidays, they want big cars, they want their children to have the latest video games.
  27. 27. 4. “The problem of habit” DIALOGUE 5 V3 [girl]: Is it about habits? It takes alot to break habits. […] you know with the green umm… thing it’s the way you’ve been brought up, I think, and the way you act. If you act like you share all the time, you won’t be greedy, but if you don’t share and you say “no I want that now” not later, that’s just greed. V1: And if you want it, it’s better for like the credit crunch and everything, and it’s cheaper, a week later.
  28. 28. 5. “Children’s agency and lifestyle change…” DIALOGUE 6 AW: Do you think it is young people that recycle and care more than their parents? V1: Yeah they might. V2: Depends on their attitude. V1: I want to say that it doesn’t depend much on the adults, it’s like you act, you don’t have to copy them. You can just say “no”, “not doing that”. V3: Life is too short to live someone else’s life V4: Life is what you make it. V2: That was on an advert.
  29. 29. 6. “Good spaces and bad spaces, good and bad behaviours…”
  30. 30. DISCUSSION Schools as transitional spaces … but from what to what? Schools as architectural metaphors. The Language ofSchools. An analysis of metaphors. Schools as second homes? (The Lanterns) Schools as shop windows (creating a connection to the community) (Everest Community College) Schools as ‘malls’, ‘streets’ and ‘market places’ (Samworth Academy) Schools as ‘call centres’ or mills or factories (Victorian Schools) Schools as prisons (Djangoly, Nottingham) Schools as farms (Montessori and Care Farming) Schools as villages (Melbourne Universities ‘Experiments’)
  31. 31. Everest Community College, Hampshire Borough ArchitectsArchitectural metaphors tell us how to behave in a space: school asschool means children as customers and consumers…what doesthe children’s conversation tell us? School as submarine, how dowe behave/learn there? Learning and playing, learning andsocialising…
  32. 32. Submarine School/ Classroom, Boy, Aged 10
  33. 33. Underwater School/ Classroom, Boy, Aged 13
  34. 34. If sustainable development is to be encouraged honestly and effectively, young peoplewill have to enter into a discussion of community, relation, social cohesion and all thepolitical and philosophical complexities this entails.Furthermore, young people will have to reconcile the need for reduced consumptionwith the consumerist norms of their peers – which is certainly a challenge for theteaching profession. Exploring the question of living and dwelling – of feeling at home- with young people presents a way to explore these issues and a way for architects torespond. We need some very different ways of both teaching and designing in the21st century if we are to address the social and environmental problems that climatechange will bring and important issues are being ignored
  35. 35. Beach School/ Classroom, Aged 10
  36. 36. .Arcade School/ Classroom, Boy Aged 10
  37. 37. Thank