This seminar introduces a spectrum of research methodologies meaningful to design disciplines focusing on the intersection of the human, built and natural worlds - approaches stemming for the social sciences, environmental sciences, and design practice. Students will work through a variety of written and visual means to explore differences between, and uses of, quantitative and qualitative data collection, analysis, interpretation, and application. Methods to be explored include Grounded Theory, Phenomenological Inquiry, Participatory approaches, Ethnography, Comparative approaches, Case Study, Postmodern Critical Theory, Systems Theory, survey, narrative, typologies, experimentation, modeling, matrices, mapping, design as research, and social and environmental impact assessment and evaluation. Special attention will be paid to issues of causality, generalization, values and ethics.
The class will be organized around a set of related issues water, ground and poverty, with a focus on the city of Providence. There will be two phases of research with the class participants determining the over-riding research question. Each phase will involve teamwork where teams will utilize different research methodologies to examine the same basic question, and will include written and visual documentation, analysis and interpretation. At the end of each phase, students will explore the differences between the various methodologies and their outcomes and discuss when and how certain approaches and their combination may be more or less effective as part of the practice, critique and scholarship of design.
This graduate seminar meets two days a week, three hours each. It is required for all first-year students in Landscape Architecture, and is open to all others.