The Ecological Thinking course instructs and engages students in understanding, applying, analyzing, discussing, critically evaluating and integrating in their own creations key theories, scientific developments and socio-cultural perspectives regarding the design and construction of the built environment in light of global climate change and the need to advance carbon neutrality, resource security, biodiversity, and ecological resilience alongside human health and wellbeing.


The Ecological Thinking seminar will lead students through a five step process of theoretical exploration corresponding with Bloom’s taxonomy of learning:


Through lectures and dialogue, each student will gain an overview of popular themes and discussions within ecological design, from the politics of extraction to new methods of transitioning scientific research into practical actions.

Students will develop a vocabulary of ecological thought that will help them to navigate and comprehend contemporary movements/conversations within the world of design, particularly in relation to “sustainability” and the advent of climate change within popular culture.

Students will practice approaching contemporary issues with a critical lens, learning to unpack and examine how different authors or architects have chosen to make their arguments.

Through weekly conversation, each student will gain an understanding of different interpretations of the same readings that result from the diverse backgrounds and cultures of the class.

SYNTHESIS (evaluate) //
At the culmination of the course, students should be able to compare, contrast and synthesize several contexts, arguments and viewpoints into a nuanced and informed opinion on the current methods of design and construction.


Projects from this course

Design with Nature – Ian McHarg

Design with Nature by Ian McHarg is a seminal book published in 1969 that revolutionized the field of landscape architecture and urban planning. The book argues that the natural environment should be the primary consideration in any design process, and that the best designs are those that work with, rather than against, nature. McHarg begins … Read more

Development As Freedom | Ecological Thinking

Development as Freedom is a book written by Nobel prize winner and philosopher Amartya Sen, which argues that development should be measured in terms of people’s freedom to choose the lives they value. Some of the main concepts addressed by Sen in the book are: Sen also explores various aspects of freedom, such as: Overall, … Read more

Braiding Sweetgrass – Robin Wall Kimmerer

Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants Braiding Sweetgrass is a book written by Robin Wall Kimmerer, an indigenous ecologist, scientist and an enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation. The book is a collection of essays that explore the relationship between humans and the natural world. Through her writing, Kimmerer presents a … Read more

Architecture Without Architects

The book, ‘Architecture without architects’, illustrates the vernacular architecture from different parts of the world and strives to acknowledge the ‘not so primitive’ techniques from various areas. Architecture history is not given as much acknowledgement as art history and the book is an attempt in the 1960s America to show the potential and the scope … Read more

Finding the Mother Tree I Ecological Thinking II

Finding the Mother Tree by Suzanne Simard is a book that introduces the interdependent world of trees and their communication networks. Suzanne Simard, a forest ecologist with decades of experience in researching trees, shares her personal stories. Through this book, she shares her scientific research that uncovers the remarkable ways in which trees communicate and … Read more

Ecological Thinking | Enlightenment Now

Book: Enlightenment Now by Steven Pinker Steven Pinker is a renowned academic with a global presence in his teachings and publications. Currently, Pinker is a psychology professor at Harvard University. His book Enlightenment Now is a commentary on the human condition in modern times amidst negative tones in media and the general public. Starting in … Read more

BUILDINGS WITHOUT ARCHITECTS: A Global Guide to Everyday Architecture by John May | Ecological Thinking

This blog is a review of the book, Buildings without Architects: A Global Guide to Everyday Architecture by John May. The book is a culmination of 60+ different styles of vernacular architecture ranging from different materials and different regions of the world. “Architecture should speak of its time and place, but yearn for timelessness.” – … Read more

DELIRIOUS NEW YORK: A Retroactive Manifesto for Manhattan by Rem Koolhaas | Ecological Thinking II

This blog is a review of the book “Delirious New York” written by Rem Koolhaas. “The future is no longer about power, but about bandwidth.” Rem Koolhas Rem Koolhaas wrote a novel titled “Delirious New York” that outlines the evolution and background of Manhattan’s design and urbanism. Koolhaas wrote this book because he desired to … Read more

BIOMIMICRY in ARCHITECTURE by Michael Pawlyn | Ecological Thinking II

This blog is a review of Michael Pawlyn’s book, Biomimicry in Architecture. “Biomimicry is a powerful innovation tool that allows architects to go beyond conventional approaches to sustainable design and deliver transformative solutions we need.”-Michael Pawlyn The book “Biomimicry in Architecture” by Michael Pawlyn introduces the term biomimicry and how it can impact architecture. The … Read more

THE NATURAL WAY OF FARMING: The Theory & Practice of Green Philosophy by Masanobu Fukuoka | Ecological Thinking

This blog is a review of the book, The Natural Way of Farming: The theory & practice of Green Philosophy by Masanobu Fukuoka. The Book is a deep description on different ideologies and process developed by the author through practice and application. “When the human spirit and human life blend with the natural order and … Read more


This blog is a review of Janine Benyus’s book, Biomimicry: Innovations inspired by Nature. Click here to check out the interactive blog version. – “Claiming that we are superior to the rest of the creation is like saying the Eiffel Tower was built so that the scrap of paint at the top would have somewhere … Read more

FACTFULNESS by Hans Rosling | Ecological Thinking

Facts Matter: Visualizing the Importance of Evidence-Based Thinking Factfulness, written by Hans Rosling, is an insightful and thought-provoking book that challenges our preconceptions about the world and encourages us to think more critically and objectively about the state of our planet. In this book, Rosling argues that many of the widely held beliefs about the … Read more


This blog is a combined review of the two books, 1. Mission Economy by Mariana Mazzucato and 2. Good Economics for Hard Times by Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo. – “On many weighty matters, economists and everyday people disagree”  – “Public sector leaders and managers are not really taught or  encouraged to think outside the box,  … Read more

SCALE by Geoffrey West | Ecological Thinking

Exploring the Fundamentals of Scaling Laws with Geoffrey West’s Scale Geoffrey West’s book, Scale, explores the fundamental principles that govern complex systems in the naturalworld, including organisms, ecosystems, cities, and companies. The book argues that these systems exhibit predictable patterns of behaviour as they grow and scale, which can be explained by a few simple … Read more