Common Core Proposal "Our Response to Climate Change: Hong Kong 2100" [confirmed for 2021]

Fundamental issue

Climate Change is the single greatest challenge of our generation. The quality of life of future generations will depend on the decisions we make, and how we design our planet today. Our powerful human imagination has enabled us to produce more mobile devices than people, build highways, immense cities, alter soils, crop genetic materials, redirect rivers, melt glaciers, design the chemistry of the atmosphere and the oceans, manufacture enough weapons to destroy humankind several times over. “Humans (represent) just 0.01% of all life but have destroyed 83% of wild mammals”. The IPCC conservative projections are pointing above +2ºC by 2100, synonymous with water wars, hundreds of millions of climate refugees - that is not acceptable. In pursuit of endless growth, we are on a trajectory to deplete our environment and ourselves. Can we use that amazing human imagination to address these existential challenges? How will we draw different narratives, metrics of success, and advocate for a future in which we can thrive among other life forms upon which we entirely depend?

The research and action gap

Most people feel that they are “too small to make a difference”, yet every local gesture adds up globally. As some of the leading economies are still hesitant to commit to the “Green New Deal”, more mature nations are having to deal with the darker side of renewable energies that also need recycling. Many projects related to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal #12 around Responsible Consumption and Production focuses on minimizing the harm on the environment when the ambition should be to heal and regenerate our “life-supporting system”. As time is running out, governments are collectively failing to prioritize a coordinated global environmental governance while geoengineering is gaining support, and major investments are being made towards mining asteroids. Instead of addressing the root cause of our problems, we hastily bury the symptoms with “solutions” that are only more problems in the making.

What this course is about

As we cannot afford a “failure of the imagination”,  and prompted by Einstein quote “we cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used to create them”, this course is about studying mainstream and controversial responses to climate change. We will criticise, debate, role play and imagine new narratives, models and metrics of success and ultimately design and advocate for a future we want. We use Hong Kong 2100 as the theater of this speculative design work. The students will have to build an argument for why their proposition / design is better than the status quo and should be adopted, taking into account the potential impacts and associated risks.

Learning activities

The course is designed in a “flipped classroom” fashion so “homework” is for studying course material and research prior to each class, while “classwork” is the time spent in class used for critique, debate, peer teaching collaboration and creative production. All activities are designed so they can be performed either on campus or online.

  1. Watching and commenting videos ( Homework). Students watch interviews of experts presenting mainstream ideas as well as provocative propositions. After watching the videos, students fill a brief online quiz and prepare their own questions.
  2. Comment on the wiki (Homework). Videos are transcripted on the wiki. Teachers can monitor each student activity on the wiki “stats page” making sure everyone is meaningfully engaging with the material.
  3. Critique and debate in class (Classwork). Students critique the videos, debate and propose their own questions and perspective. This active engagement and peer teaching will enable the students to form and test their newly informed perspective.
  4. Role playing and Design Thinking (Classwork). Each student is assigned a role that is either human (e.g., food producer, goods transportation, data management, public servant, public order, Infrastructure, student, teacher, doctor, health care, waste manager), living (e.g., marine animal, insect, rodent, pet, plant, bird), or natural element (e.g., air, water, so), built environment (e.g., large public infrastructure, data center, wireless data antenna, building, furniture, appliance). Students create drawings that represent that role in context and action.
  5. Research (Both Homework and Classwork) : Students research what such a role would entail in the future from science litterature, science fiction, popular culture, their own beliefs, imagination, fears and hopes.
  6. Drawing.(Both Homework and Classwork)  Students produce illustrations of their role, in action and in context.
  7. Essay writing (Homework). Accompanying each illustration, each student writes an essay explaining their views of the character they have drawn with a rich body of references. Output
  8. (Public Exhibition) Exhibiting and Presenting. Each drawing becomes part of a large visual installation. Under each drawing visitors can read the essays and their references. The public can comment under each essay.
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The public exhibition features all the drawings and essays of the students presenting their response to climate for Hong Kong in 2100.

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Each panel is structured the same way:

  1. Top (yellow): drawing / illustration by the student
  2. Middle (green): advocacy essay, references of the student
  3. Bottom (blue): comments by the visitors

Week by Week ProgramA typical 2h session:

  • 30 minutes to comment on the material, share questions, debate and individual perspectives
  • 20 minutes of role playing
  • 10 Short break
  • 20 minutes of research
  • 20 minutes of drawing
  • 15 minute of sharing
  • 5 minute to clarify the assignment for the following week
  • Week 1 | Our planet and the Climate Change Narratives | Tom Chi (Buckminster Fuller Institute), George Monbiot (Extinction Rebellion), Yann Arthus Bertrand (La Terre vue du ciel), Professor EVANS, Matthew R (HKU), James Auger (ENS),
  • Week 2 | Environmental impact assessment | Annie Leonard (The Story of Stuff), Christiana Figueres (COP21), Jennifer Gabrys (Cambridge)
  • Week 3 | Climate refugees, 2100, 10B People, 2B displaced | Charles Geisler (Cornell University), Jessica Olney (BRAC University),
  • Week 4 | Mars and moonshots: An industry out of the world | Jeffrey Montes (AI Space Factory), Colin Ho (SpaceX), Jessy Kate Schingler (Institute for the Future), Tom Campbell (Made in Space)
  • Week 5 | The atmosphere, tipping point and runaway effect | Will Marshall (Planet Labs), David Keith & Frank Keutsch (Harvard)
  • Week 6 | Ocean, decolonising science, keeping our ocean alive | Oliver Wingenter (New Mexico Tech), Chien Wang & Benjamin Grandey (MIT), Asha de Vos (National Geographic)
  • Week 7 | Energy and transportation, the dark side of green energy | Saul Griffiths (OtherLab), Jason W. Moore (Capitalism in the web of life), Rose M. Mutiso (Energy for Growth Hub)
  • Week 8 | Democracy and capitalism, new governance models | Audrey Tang (Government of Taiwan), Paul Hawken (Drawdown), Kerckhove Stephen (APE, Action Climat)
  • Week 9 | Architecture, 2100,10B people, 85% in cities| Mitchell Joachim (Terreform 1), Matthew Pryor (HKU), Vo Trong Nghia (VTN Architects)
  • Week 10 | Design: Fashion, seasons and cycles | Ronna Chao (Novetex), Susanne Lee (biocouture), Ren Wan (Jup Yeah), Kay Wong (The Green Artivist)
  • Week 11 | Design: Food, beyond vegan | David Yeung (Green Monday), Matilda Ho (Bits x Bites)
  • Week 12 | Design: Human, viruses, genetics and AI | Josiah Zayner (The Odin), Prof George Church (Harvard), Dr KWONG Kwok-wai, Heston, JP (HK Govt)

Week 13 | Design work exhibition, Exhibition setup, presentations and discussion with the public.

Google doc (original)

Archive. docx

20201201 CC2020_Proposal_ Design_the_Climate-Cesar_Jung-Harada (1).docx325.5KB

3D files

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Round Exhibit - people.skp242.2KB

Administrative Copies

Signed by Head of Department (Eric Schuldenfrei)

Signed by Head of Department and the Dean (Chris Webster)