Course Structure

The project will unfold over three years, with three listed classes per year (Fall Architecture/Law seminar and Spring studio and practicum) as well as a workshop in Year 2 and a closing exhibition/symposium in Year 3. In addition to students from the School of Architecture and Yale Law School, students from the School of Management and the School of Environment are invited to enroll in the Fall seminar. Through readings, discussions, and structured interactions with cutting-edge industry and policy/advocacy leaders, students will study the historical, legal, regulatory, and practice impact of historic and modern slaveries and their legacies in the built environment. This seminar will build a base of knowledge for the subsequent studio and practicum. Final projects will be applied solutions, though not with the depth and rigor of studio practice.

In the Spring, an Advanced Studio practice by the architecture students will be conducted in concert with an applied experiential class in which cross-disciplinary student partners will create a legal/economic/historical consultancy. Design Studio pedagogy in academic architecture is the pinnacle of the educational experience. This course will deliver a studio with a specific pedagogical agenda—a “freedom ethos”—that includes history, law, and civil rights issues, similar to those that might face a practicing architect who must lead team-based project management and confront social issues. This project will blend the theoretical (development of a freedom aesthetic and practice model rooted in history and civil rights) with the practical (skills-building in project management, community involvement, and equity).

The other Spring Semester course would be a two-credit practicum, cross-listed in Law, Architecture, and SOM. In this course, which will be taught by a Gilder Lehrman Center Fellow in Modern Slavery in conjunction with the Studio faculty lead, students will form a consultancy to act in support of the Studio. Students in the Studio will be required to develop and execute their projects within the strictures identified by the consultants (e.g., regulatory, policy, land-use, community, international law, civil rights, Business & Human Rights, etc).

A symposium and exhibition during the final Fall Semester will grapple with the challenges and insights from the multi-year effort, with an eye toward releasing reports or a monograph as both a “teaching manifesto” and compilation of best practices for confronting modern slavery in the built environment.

Each phase of this project requires a new kind of experiential pedagogy built on respectful interface with communities who have experienced enslavement and its aftermaths, whether in their lifetimes or historically. This multi-year effort will actualize the historic and cultural outcome of such re-examination efforts as the Yale and Slavery Research Project, incorporating into modern practice the truths and insights gained by such inquiries. We propose to harness the common Studio practice of site visits as opportunities to sketch and situate the project in situ, as well as a time to conduct listening sessions and focus groups with community members and leaders. Community members’ input would continue throughout, with an eye toward inclusion in final presentations and in the closing symposium/show.