CROSS-CULTURAL EDUCATION THROUGH SUSTAINABLE DESIGN STUDIOS. A UAE-USA EXPERIENCE
1 Faculty of Engineering, United Arab Emirates University (UNITED ARAB EMIRATES)
2 School of Architecture, Art and Historic Preservation, Roger Williams University (UNITED STATES)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN10 Proceedings
Publication year: 2010
Conference name: 2nd International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 5-7 July, 2010
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Abstract:The global building industry has proven needs for architects and engineers equipped with the sustainability background to address the social, economic, cultural and environmental problems we face in the 21st century. Various architectural and building engineering programs worldwide are thus embedding the sustainability component at the classroom and the curriculum levels to encounter augmented ecological issues and meet the market needs.
The area of sustainability is complex by nature, and usually involves a number of specialists who deal with their areas of expertise rather than the domination of a single specific discipline. Thus, it is essential that students promote group thinking and communication skills through multiple pedagogical strategies at different levels to meet challenges dictated by the global transformations.
An international collaborative initiative started in Fall 2009 between two groups of students sharing interest in studying sustainability in the built the environment. Students from the School of Architecture, Art and Historic Preservation, Roger Williams University, U.S.A. and students from the Architectural Engineering Program, United Arab Emirates University, U.A.E. joined together on the first International Students’ Get-together on Sustainability and The Built Environmnet, which was hosted by the Faculty of Engineering, U.A.E. University; and various organizations across the country. The initiative was internally funded by both schools, and externally funded by 2 Emirati organizations.
In the duration of 5 days, the students explored a number of ongoing live sustainable architectural projects and urban developments, such as Masdar City; the first claimed zero-carbon, zero-energy community worldwide, and Saadiyat Island; home to the Louvre and Guggenheim museums and a number of leading sustainable master projects in the capital of Abu Dhabi, as well as similar projects in context of the unique, young, and fast growing Emirati built environment. Students also exchanged knowledge, based on their sustainability education, and collaborated with local and international sustainability practitioners involved in the development of significant projects across the country.
This paper discusses the sustainability background of each group of students before their involvement in this initiative, as well as identification of commonalities and differences in their approach to sustainability knowledge. It provides a full description of the project-based, collaborative activities conducted, social and cultural exchanges occurred, and it concludes with a set of lessons-learnt after implementation of the initiative, the impact on students’ knowledge of the topic at hand, and recommendations for future practices.
Keywords: built environment, cross-cultural learning, ecological issues, interdisciplinary, international collaboration, sustainability education.