The Bartlett Summer Show Book 2020

Page 420

Architecture Education Declares: A Year of Radical Change

This year, in response to global crises, The Bartlett School of Architecture has seen an inspiring rise in student leadership and has itself begun a radical change process. In October 2018, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change stated that we had 12 years to avoid irreversible and catastrophic climate breakdown, that government action would be insufficient and social movements were needed. The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services warned that severe and rapid loss of biodiversity caused by industrialisation, urbanisation, pollution and changes in land use was threatening the future of all life on Earth. Along with the rise in pandemics, disease and conflict, the global health crisis threatens a ‘sixth mass extinction’. Millions of refugees are already fleeing drought, famine and flooding, with the poorest and least powerful as ever the worst affected and most vulnerable to exploitation, harm and death. Through 2019/20, movements like Extinction Rebellion, Greta Thunberg’s School Strike for Climate and Black Lives Matter took root. Millions took to the streets to protest insufficient action. Councils, industry sectors and even governments began declaring a climate and ecological emergency.


In Spring 2019, while also preparing for exams and the Summer Show, architecture students from The Bartlett, Architectural Association, Central St Martin’s and others created Architecture Education Declares (AED), now a powerful worldwide movement with over 2,000 members. On 3 June, they published an open letter calling for curriculum change and urgent action to align schools with the climate and ecological emergency. The letter called for a move from competition, exploitation and inequality, to collaboration, mutuality, respect and care. It urged schools to teach the intimate link between ecological breakdown, social injustices and the economic and political systems that architecture enables, driven largely by private financial interests. On 4 October 2019, after a school-wide campaign and the day of AED’s Climate Summit, The Bartlett School of Architecture declared an emergency: ‘Our planet is being driven towards catastrophic climate breakdown, biodiversity loss and profound suffering or extinction of future generations of living species… Committed to making an essential and vital contribution towards building an ethical, equitable, healthy, biodiverse, fair and globally prosperous future, we will implement actions in our academic, operational and management practices...’

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