Intro To Social Design Utopia And Conversion

Do you yearn for social change? Do you take pleasure in designing the kind of world you want to live in (have you used SimCity)? Here is a series of courses presenting a new practice of social change: participatory social design, or Sociatecture.

The courses rejects the utopian mentality, in which the new society and the lives of others are planned. Instead students try designing the society each one wishes to be part of and enacting it in small increments. The primary tactic is conversion, not total imagination. Courses produce detailed models for action and creation. In the multiple and interconnected exercises of each course, we acquire and advance the skills necessary for putting into play another social practice than that of the state, the market, industrial medicine, institutional education, or law. In short, we bring into being the new sociality in our very work as students and teachers, in both the content and form of our engagement. The goal is to learn creatively to fit one’s unique socio-individuality into multiple socialities, contributing to their supple, ever-changeful life.

It is a basic tenet of Sociatecture that social practices cannot be liberated without continuous inventions of constituent socialities by the members. Furthermore, there cannot be such invention without taking an educational approach to life.

During the spring, the introduction course will be offered. This will introduce students to the wide variety of learning opportunities available in Sociatecture core and peripheral courses. It will introduce the basic distinction between utopian thinking (or planning, social engineering) and social design thinking (or conversion). Students can expect to read utopian and anti-utopian writings and some alternative economic, political, educational, health, and architectural realities; engage in utopian dreaming but move to conversion by taking existing environments and social processes as the raw material; build models and full-scale mockups; develop collaboration skills and coordinate discrete actions; and discover low-tech construction methods. It is a fast-moving, playful course, and is meant to serve as an entry into more intense sociatectural learning processes.

Method/Procedures: design studio with readings
Schedule: Wed 1-5 pm
Location: Encuentro 5
Fees: negotiable
Teacher: Eric Buck
Week-to-Week topics

Students are encouraged to come to class with a utopian text in mind or in hand. These will serve as the starting analysis. The range is expansive: from Plato's Republic to contemporary science-fiction.
We will also make use of Chris Alexander's methods, which can be found online at

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