Thinking Through Art and Design@Berkeley: Responsible Design from Bits to Buildings

Bjorn Hartmann (Electrical Engineering and Computer Science) Robert Kett (Jacobs Design Institute) Kyle Steinfeld (Architecture)
  • TTh 12:00 PM - 2:00 PM
  • BAM/PFA Art Museum Auditorium
  • 3 Units
Letters and Science 25 (class number 25244)

Breadth: Arts and Literature

This course introduces students to key vocabularies, forms, and histories from the many arts and design disciplines represented at UC Berkeley. It is conceived each year around a central theme that responds to significant works and events on the campus, providing an introduction to the many art and design resources available to students locally.
This fall we will focus on design and its connection to the arts across a range of disciplinary contexts. We will explore the role of design in imagining the built environment (architecture, city planning), in framing our experience of “new” media and technology, as well as design’s intersections with allied creative fields (theater, exhibition, public art, craft). Throughout, we will consider how design offers a toolkit for framing and approaching complex problems and how responsible design emerges through new forms of collaboration with a broad field of experts—including users, artists, engineers, scientists, and others. Moreover, we will consider how creative workers address key social issues through their practice. How, for instance, do data-driven systems for decision making affect inclusivity and equality? How will artificial intelligence shape the future of work and the future of cultural life? How will designers and their collaborators work together to address issues of climate and sustainability? As today’s most pressing challenges cut across disciplinary boundaries, designers are articulating new methods for connecting the conceptual knowledge for asking “Why?” with technical skills for asking “How?”
Informed by key themes explored at the Jacobs Institute for Design Innovation, this course is built around a matrix of scales (from bits to buildings and cities) and issues, such as sustainability, democracy, and inclusion. On Tuesdays, instructors introduce a given intersection and lead student discussion of relevant background material and readings. Each week on Thursdays, outside speakers are invited to present to students and the general public focusing on a specific relevant project from their professional careers that showcases a real-world design challenge. Students will engage with speakers during open question-and-answer periods and reflect on the presentations in assignments and sections.

Students enrolled in this course will receive free tickets to selected arts events and exhibits on campus or in the surrounding Bay Area.