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Scholarship of Design
Frames and Fictions:
Designing a Green New Deal Studio Sequence
Billy Fleming
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In the time of upheaval and crisis, what is the point of design education? In nearly every school of architecture or design there is a central, unspoken rejoinder to this question: the point of design education is to condition each successive generation of students for a lifetime of exploited labor that is detached from any critical relationship to the role that designers play in aestheticizing and instrumentalizing global capitalism. While there are always spaces of exception in the academy—the long tradition of community-engaged studios (e.g., Auburn’s Rural Studio and a number of design-build studios elsewhere)—most efforts tend to reproduce the long hours and infinite production that underpins so much of design education. This goal is not written in mission statements or strategic plans—to do so would threaten the machinery of student recruitment and major gift fundraising. But it is there, plain to see, in the tendency of design institutions to reproduce their most common traits: valorizing individuality and competition, endless work and infinite production, and service to the elites that fund much of the field’s work. Put another way, design education exists to reproduce the social and racial order of capitalism. And the core of its pedagogy is rooted in the studio.

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