Christopher X J. Jensen
Associate Professor, Pratt Institute

Ecology for Architects

MSCI-271, Ecology for Architects

Offered at: Pratt Logo

Note: For the time being I am no longer teaching this course; I have decided to focus my efforts on the Ecology, Environment, & the Anthropocene course, which is a requirement of Pratt’s Minor in Sustainability Studies.

Course Description:
Architects build structures that serve as environments for organisms: human beings. Therefore, it is crucial that architects understand the ways in which organisms interact with the environment and other organisms. This course will investigate topics in Ecology that will enable students to think more broadly about what it means to design living and working spaces.

Who Might Be Interested In This Course?
This course is only open to students in the Undergraduate Architecture program. As the course description suggests, Ecology for Architects is aimed at giving students an overview of the field of ecology and how it applies to the sustainability of human societies, in particular the built environment. If you are curious about how the interactions between individual organisms and their environments scale up to global ecosystems, this course will provide you with a good introduction to nested complexity of the natural world. This course is also designed to meet the requirements for Pratt’s emerging minor in Sustainability, so whether or not you plan to minor in sustainability, Ecology for Architects will provide you with the critical biological framework for understanding the modern “green revolution”. The major assignments in this course are a Midterm Exam and a cumulative Final Exam, but a majority (60%) of credit in the class is for homework and classwork. Classwork credit is given for engaging in weekly discussions, often in small groups, so you should be prepared to be actively involved during class sessions. A series of group and individual activities — mostly completed in class — provide the core challenges that define the direction of the course. Homework consists of weekly pre- and post-class quizzes designed to make sure that you understand the readings and class content.  Ecology for Architects requires a fair amount of reading (see the syllabus below for details), so you should be prepared to allocate at least three hours a week to reading for this course.

What Background Should I Have Before I Take This Course?
Students who enroll in this class will have already taken Intro to Physics/Chemistry (MSCI-110) course during their first year. This course requires no formal background in the biological sciences. It is nice if you have some memory of your high school biology class, but even that is not required.

Important Course Materials:

MSCI-271 (Ecology for Architects) Course Syllabus
MSCI-271 (Ecology for Architects) Course-at-a-Glance

I used to require a term paper in this course; guidelines for this term paper can be found below:

MSCI-271 (Ecology for Architects) Term Paper Guidelines

You can check out exemplary Term Paper Proposals and Final Term Papers on the Ecology for Architects student work page.

Blog posts related to this course can be found here.

This course maintains an Open Information Environment.