Newsletter | September 2021
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We're pleased to announce the following breakout sessions for the 2021 Design Matters Conference. View the schedule, read speaker bios, and register now to join us virtually on December 2-3.

Using Place-Based Learning to Reframe Historical Legacies

Day 1 Breakout Session: Using Place-Based Learning to Reframe Historical Legacies

Presenter: Alexis Mason, Instructional Coach Charlottesville High School and member of the Memorial to Enslaved Laborers Community Engagement Committee

Since long before its official dedication ceremony in April 2021, the Memorial to Enslaved Laborers (MEL) at the University of Virginia has acted as a physical embodiment of the University's wider efforts to center the lives and contributions of the enslaved community who largely built and operated the University from its founding in 1819 through emancipation, and beyond. In addition to honoring the excellence and intelligences of this most underrepresented community, the design elements and physical features of the MEL offer numerous opportunities to engage visitors in an active and participatory form of place-based education.  
In this session, Alexis Mason will describe the process for developing educational materials for use by K-12 educators, students, and the general public when engaging with the MEL in person or through online formats. With an emphasis on a collaborative and interdisciplinary approach to curricular development, a set of Educator Guides were developed as part of an undergraduate course taught at the University of Virginia (led by AAO Member John Comazzi) in which university students partnered with local K-12 educators and the MEL's Community Engagement Committee, which includes Descendants of the original enslaved community.

Aimed at programmers and educators alike, this session will focus on the rich opportunities afforded by our designed environments to actively engage visitors through participatory educational programming that addresses the history and legacy of underrepresented communities whose lives have significantly impacted the cultural development of any local context. 

Who Tells the Story of Architecture?

Day 1 Breakout Session: Who Tells the Story of Architecture?

Panelists: The near extinction of the architecture critic from major dailies and the constant winnowing of column inches on city issues does not make the work of advancing public dialogue any easier. Several organizations are now responding by establishing new fellowships and programs for cultivating diverse voices in architectural journalism. From writing to videography, public policy to real estate matters, this panel of leaders is showing the power we have to support emerging talents and, at the same, energize public understanding about the value of design. This is a topic of pressing interest for all interpretive organizations

Finding Excellence in Latin & South America

Day 2 Breakout Session: Finding Excellence in Latin & South America

Architecture in the Americas is alive and well. There is a plethora of new and innovative ideas being explored in all corners of the Americas, but especially in Latin and South American regions. However, the importance is not focusing on a specific region, but rather looking at the bigger picture of international cross-cultural dialogue between northern cities and architectural cultures and South America. 

In this session, we will consider the state of this global exchange by highlighting some of the most innovative practices working today and investigating the interests of an emerging generation of younger architects. Perfect for public programmers and anyone looking to expand the boundaries of their architectural knowledge.

Design Education Beyond Four Walls

Day 2 Breakout Session: Design Education Beyond Four Walls

Maya Bird-Murphy, Chicago Mobile Makers

From a custom outfitted delivery truck, Chicago Mobile Makers organizes pop-up design workshops and school visits across the Chicago area. Their curriculum offers first-step introductions as well as more advanced classes on topics as varied as community safety, wellbeing, and design fundamentals—all with a larger aim to increase the variety of people entering the field of architecture. And now CMM is poised to unveil its first permanent education space on the city’s West Side. In this session, Maya shares the unique opportunities and everyday procedures needed to effectively market and deliver placed-based youth programming on-the-go. We also explore the partnership possibilities for like-minded architecture organizations to work with groups like CMM.

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