Environmental design open house

By Colin Minor

The Faculty of Environmental Design hosted an open house on Nov. 16 to show undergraduates the interdisciplinary graduate programs offered.

“One of the things that really distinguishes this place from a lot of schools is the diversity of design that occurs under one roof,” said associate dean of environmental design Michael Quinn. “We have one of the few places in North America where there is a full architecture school alongside of an environmental design degree and the students work together continuously through those two degrees.”

EVDS is in its 40th year. The interdisciplinary program examines sustainable planning from many angles.

“We have lived through the environment being a hot item to it completely going out of style to it coming back in,” said environmental design professor Tom Harper.

Students from many backgrounds including urban studies, geography, biological sciences or even English and philosophy join the environmental design program.

“It is pretty flexible, particularly the thesis-based [master’s of environmental design]. You can set your own course to a very significant degree, no pun intended,” said Harper.

“It is dealing with the real big issues, the most important issues that are facing society,” said Quinn. “Students get to roll up their sleeves and work in interdisciplinary teams to try to solve those problems and recognize that there is no simple quick fix.”

Harper said that often the solutions to these problems fall in the space between fields.

“Employers are telling us that this is the kind of person that they are looking for,” said Quinn. “They are looking for people who can think, who can work in teams, who can work in complex environments and this is the kind of program where we really train and educate students to do that.”

“EVDS is unlike any other place I’ve been. In terms of the school atmosphere, it is kind of a 24-hours a day place. There is always stuff happening, there are always people here working,” said Masters of Architecture student Matt Knapik. “There is such a range of things that we do here and it all contributes to an experience that pushes the boundaries of what you would assume for a typical graduate education, it is very active and fun.”