1 BERLIN PERSPECTIVES Gardens of Berlin: Transdisciplinary Ecology Semester: Winter semester 2019/20 Course instructor: Shelley Etkin / Subject area: Credits: Culture and Society 5 ECTS Time: Wednesday c.t. ( ) Room: , 3rd floor, Hausvogteiplatz 5-7 (HVP) Course description: Gardens of Berlin: Transdisciplinary Ecology offers encounters with several unique urban garden projects in Berlin. What do these gardens do, in the contexts where they grow, and within the city at large? Who gathers in those gardens and how? This course offers an opportunity to situate questions of planetary change through the study of Berlin as a complex ecosystem, gaining in-depth perspectives through its urban gardens and their human and non-human communities. The course will explore the range of disciplines that inform the field of ecology ranging from environmental, to mental and social, as well as spiritual. From plants to political dynamics, activism to artistry, the urban gardens studied will reflect the diverse topography of Berlin s ecology. Site visits will include conversations with local organisers and readings will contextualise their histories and approaches along with theory from the transdisciplinary field of ecology. This course offers skills, insights, and questions to develop ecological thinking, embracing the wide range of cultural and academic backgrounds that students will contribute. There is no requirement for students to have previous familiarity with the subject, only a willingness to engage in readings, discussions, and site visits, as well as verbal and written reflections. Learning objectives: This course will introduce the notion of ecology as a transdisciplinary field, based on an inclusive understanding of ecology as a whole made of many inter-related systems. As such, we will address environmental, social, political, relational and spiritual aspects of ecology, through specific Berlin gardens. This approach challenges hegemonic binaries of human and non-human, nature and culture, urban and rural. The city of Berlin will be a site for ecological thinking. By the end of the course, students will be able to: Knowledge Be familiar with several urban garden projects in Berlin and their relationships to the city. Acknowledge key concepts across a range of aspects in transdisciplinary ecology including sociopolitical and environmental concerns.
2 Deepen their English skills in speaking, reading, and writing forms while learning contemporary discourses and vocabulary concerning ecology. Ecological Thinking Consider the internal and external dimensions of ecological projects in the context of urban and cultural development. Expand their perceptions of the city of Berlin, observational and perceptual skills, and ecological perspectives, which can be applied to their places of origin and other locations. Competencies Students will be supported to articulate personal experiences of Berlin s gardens through their particular cultural, linguistic, and academic standpoints. Students will develop their abilities to conceptualise and articulate various approaches to urban gardens in their diverse potential designs and activities. Examples for assessment portfolio: Regular attendance, engaged participation: 45% Assignments in response to readings (to be submitted via moodle): 15% Individual garden design presentation (up to 10 minutes followed by question and answers, drawing on course experience and academic literature.): 20% Reflection on final garden design and personal development in course (Deadline: / Format: 2-4 pages, double-spaced, Times New Roman ft.12): 20% Language requirements: This course will be held primarily in English. A minimum English B2 level is required, but the class will adapt to the range of English skills present. Class time will prioritise development of speaking and comprehension in English, through engagement in discussions with classmates and invited guest speakers. The course will offer various spoken formats including large and small group discussions and brief individual presentations. Reading and writing skills will be developed through assigned readings and short written tasks throughout the course, along with a final reflection, in English. Reading content can be adapted for those who require more time or support and suggestions can be offered to those who wish to pursue specific topics further. The diversity of languages and cultures present is a welcome aspect of our study of transdisciplinary ecology. Students are invited to refer to their cultural and linguistic backgrounds as important perspectives through which to explore course topics and translation will be provided when possible, however proficiency in English is a crucial element for involvement in this course. The course will support development of new vocabulary in each class session, which will be uploaded as an ongoing resource via moodle. Students will be asked to engage across varying degrees of language abilities and find ways to express and communicate. The teacher will be available to arrange office hours outside of class time with any students who request assistance with course or language aspects.
3 Timetable: Session 1: Introductions and Orientations Students will be introduced to the curriculum to begin familiarising with the approach to transdisciplinary ecology explored in this course. Students will introduce themselves to the class by way of briefly describing their relationships to gardens in the past, in their places of origin, and so far in their experiences of Berlin. Kito Nedo Interview with Martin Clausen (2013): Urban Gardens: Sowing the City of Tomorrow, The Social Design Public Action Reader, SLUM Lab Sustainable Living Urban Model, Issue 8, pp. 1-3 Mark Pagel (2011): Cities as Gardens, Edge, pp. 1-7 Session 2: Excursion: Prinzessinnengartens in Kreuzberg and Neukölln Prinzessinnengarten is an urban social and environmental project home to plants, bees, a cafe, up-cycling market, neighbourhood exchange programs, and more. It has been situated by Moritzplatz in Kreuzberg for several years and is currently opening another location in a former cemetery site in Neukölln. We will have the unique opportunity to visit during this transition and learn more about their processes and negotiations with the city of Berlin in discussion with local organisers. Robert Macfarlane (2010) Atlas of Remote Islands by Judith Schalansky and Infinite City by Rebecca Solnit: Review, The Guardian Ali Fitzgerald (2018) In the postwar 'death zone', new life: Berlin by Ali Fitzgerald an urban comic, The Guardian: The Illustrated City Wulff, Gabriel (2014) "Collective Counter Cartography from Prinzessinnengarten, Berlin, disclosure: A Journal of Social Theory, Vol. 23, Article 6, pp Permaculture Ethics and Design Poster, Permaculture Principles Pty Ltd Permaculture Flower, Permaculture Principles Pty Ltd Session 3: Mapping our Ecologies We will briefly elaborate on the field of cartography and be inspired by an expanded notion of mapping including comics, illustrations, diagrams, and permaculture principles as templates for thinking about interconnected systems and story-telling. Students will draw maps of their movements and activities through the city, comparing and overlaying them to map the ecology of the class in relation to the city of Berlin. Required reading: Dorothy Halbrock (2018) Floating University Berlin: Making a place out of a dump, Actors of Urban Change Gilly Karjevsky and compiled contributors (2018) Lexicon The Floating University
4 Session 4: Excursion: The Floating University of Berlin The Floating University is a unique project started as an offshore campus for cities in transformation, in a rainwater basin in Kreuzberg. This project has constructed a multistory urban forest around the water filtration system to host dialogues and workshops, kitchen and garden, performance space, and their own laboratory dedicated to climate care. Though not a garden in the traditional sense, this project utilises the basin s specific social-ecology as a making and learning space. Robin, Kimmerer (2017) Speaking of Nature, Orion Magazine [optional reading] Mark, Vernon (2018) ed. Marina Benjamin: The Say of the Land, Aeon Magazine Assignment: Gather a short list of terms that have reoccured in our class and their expressions in your native language, be prepared to share these as in our next session. Session 5: Ecology s oikos Place and Language The term ecology comes from the Greek oikos referring to house, family, and home. Students will share informal presentations on how their native languages reflect words for home, nature, garden, and other key terms that have arisen through the course. Tracking these as a collective mind-map, we will build a diverse class vocabulary. Ciarán Fahey (2015): How Berliners refused to give Tempelhof airport over to developers, The Guardian Jo Blason, Basia Cummings and Ciarán Fahey (2015): Nazis and candy drops: Tempelhof airport through history in pictures, The Guardian Session 6: Excursion: Tempelhofer Feld We will visit Tempelhofer Feld, a site which has undergone immense transformations from a former airfield and Nazi power base, to airlift site, to reclaimed public park advocated for by citizens, including community gardens and many social and ecological projects promoting open space and shared resources. We will meet with an organiser from the democratic initiative 100% Tempelhofer Feld to learn more about the history and contemporary situation of the site. [Note: the class will be divided in half and assigned one of the following readings. We will begin the next session by exchanging our impressions of the texts.] Bruno Latour (2007): A Plea for Earthly Sciences, British Sociological Association Annual Meeting, pp. 1-9 Donna Haraway (2016): Tentacular Thinking: Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Chthulucene, E-flux Journal, vol. 75, pp Session 7: Social Ecology Who are we? Expanding on various approaches to the social that we have encountered so far, we will challenge the assumptions underlying the notion of we that often excludes non-humans as well as oppressed and marginalised human communities. This session will address larger discourses surrounding futures, anchored in examples from the garden projects and readings we have engaged with so far.
5 Jared Gradinger (2016) Impossible Forest Starhawk (1993): The Fifth Sacred Thing, Excerpted text for Earth Activist Training Manual: The Vision of the City, pp. 1-9 [optional] Brian Eno (2011): Composers as Gardeners, Edge, pp. 1-5 Session 8: Excursion: The Impossible Forest This unique project bridges artistic and spiritual inquiry with social art and choreography, located in the Uferstudios complex of dance studios and ateliers in the Wedding neighbourhood. We will meet with dancer-gardener Jared Gradinger, who will share the influences that contribute to this approach to co-creative gardening. Georgina Kenyon (2019): If the land is sick, you are sick : An Aboriginal approach to mental health in times of drought, Scroll.in Magazine, pp Vanessa Watts (2013): Indigenous place-thought & agency amongst humans and nonhumans (First Woman and Sky Woman go on a European world tour!) Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education, & Society, Vol. 2, No. 1, pp [Pages required, further reading is optional] David Abram (1997): The Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More- Than-Human World, Vintage Publishing, The Animateness of the Perceptual World pp Session 9: Mental and Spiritual Ecology Inner and Outer Relations In order to fully address the inextricable relations between humans and nature, it is necessary to consider the spiritual element along with the social, environmental, and political aspects of ecology. We will discuss various belief and knowledge systems concerning nature, given cross-cultural backgrounds, and how this shapes a sense of connection (or lack thereof) and responsibility in regards to the self and environment, as part of a holistic approach to gardening. Assignment: Prepare for roundtable session by reviewing course materials and site visits. Write two-paragraph statement on particular focus that you would like to engage with further. Session 10: Roundtable Discussions The class will divide into sub-groups to explore a particular focus generated by the course, which will be discussed in small groups and shared in concentric circles format in class. This will allow us to explore various topics in more detail and become comfortable speaking in public as we move towards the final assignment. Kamel, Louafi (2014): Green Islands in the City: 25 Ideas for Urban Gardens, Jovis Publishers, pp 6-11, 14-17, 24-25, 32-33, 40-41, 48-49, 58-59, 70-71, 74-75, 86-87, 98-99, ,
6 Sessions 11 and 12: , Garden Design Presentations Students will give brief presentations with their own speculative design concepts for a garden, inspired by the different approaches reflected in the course. Presentations should include their proposed location, which communities (human and non-human) the garden is intended to serve, the overall purpose or intention of the garden, and what occurs there (what is grown, what kind of events are hosted, etc.) Presentations are spoken and must include a visual aide but can take any form students find fitting, drawing on their own academic fields and creativity. Session 13: Closing Session and Reflections We will spend the final week of this course in open discussions, reflecting and re-mapping the terrains that were covered throughout the course. We will work with visual and conversational formats in order to integrate the learning that students have experienced and consider what has sparked further curiosity for the future. Literature: All literature will be available via moodle. Ali Fitzgerald (2018): In the postwar 'death zone', new life: Berlin by Ali Fitzgerald an urban comic, The Guardian: The Illustrated City Brian Eno (2011): Composers as Gardeners, Edge, pp. 1-5 Bruno Latour (2007): A Plea for Earthly Sciences, British Sociological Association Annual Meeting, pp. 1-9 Ciarán Fahey (2015): How Berliners refused to give Tempelhof airport over to developers, The Guardian David Abram (1997): The Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More- Than-Human World, Vintage Publishing, pp Donna Haraway (2016): Tentacular Thinking: Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Chthulucene, E-flux Journal, vol. 75, pp Dorothy Halbrock (2018): Floating University: Making a place out of a dump, Actors of Urban Change Gabriel Wulff (2014): "Collective Counter Cartography from Prinzessinnengarten, Berlin, disclosure: A Journal of Social Theory, Vol. 23, Article 6, pp DOI: Georgina Kenyon (2019): If the land is sick, you are sick : An Aboriginal approach to mental health in times of drought, Scroll.in Magazine, pp Gilly Karjevsky, and compiled contributors (2018): Lexicon The Floating University Jared Gradinger (2016): Impossible Forest Jo Blason, Basia Cummings and Ciarán Fahey (2015): Nazis and candy drops: Tempelhof airport through history in pictures, The Guardian
7 Kamel, Louafi (2014): Green Islands in the City: 25 Ideas for Urban Gardens, Jovis Publishers, pp 6-11, 14-17, 24-25, 32-33, 40-41, 48-49, 58-59, 70-71, 74-75, 86-87, 98-99, , Kito Nedo Interview with Martin Clausen (2013): Urban Gardens: Sowing the City of Tomorrow, The Social Design Public Action Reader SLUM Lab Sustainable Living Urban Model, Issue 8, pp. 1-3 Mark Pagel (2011): Cities as Gardens, Edge, pp. 1-7 Mark, Vernon (2018) ed. Marina Benjamin: The Say of the Land, Aeon Magazine Permaculture Ethics and Design Poster, Permaculture Principles Pty Ltd, Licensed Permaculture Flower, Permaculture Principles Pty Ltd, Licensed Robert Macfarlane (2010): Atlas of Remote Islands by Judith Schalansky and Infinite City by Rebecca Solnit: Review, The Guardian Robin, Kimmerer (2017): Speaking of Nature, Orion Magazine Starhawk (1993): The Fifth Sacred Thing, Excerpted text for Earth Activist Training Manual 2014, pp. 1-9 Vanessa Watts (2013): Indigenous place-thought & agency amongst humans and nonhumans (First Woman and Sky Woman go on a European world tour!) Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education, & Society, Vol. 2, No. 1, pp Remarks: Please note that our four excursions will take place as double course sessions, with a time frame of 3 hours. Before each excursion, we will set a meeting location at the site. Please come prepared to stay there for the entire allotted period and arrange travels and other plans accordingly. Bring a notebook, water, and snack if needed. Written assignments during the course should be uploaded to Moodle up to one day before the next class session. These are intended as brief personal response to the reading with any associations, linkages, questions or curiosities that may arise. This classroom strives to be as safe a space as possible for the diversity of thought, culture, age, race, gender, sexuality, and ability. Differences and diversity in our international classroom are welcome assets to the learning process. Critique or disagreement will be handled with integrity. Our class culture will make space for all that is present with respect and openness towards one another and in our encounters with local sites and guests. Attendance will be noted at the beginning of each session and a minimum of 80% attendance is required in order to pass, absences must be excused and backed up by doctor s certificates. Students are welcome to contact the teacher for support with course materials or English language aspects. Arrangements can be made to support each students needs but must be communicated and agreed upon.
8 No plagiarism will be tolerated in this course.