News Brief

Ecological Design and Building Schools: Green Guide to Educational Opportunities in the United States and Canada

by Sandra Leibowitz Early. New Village Press, Oakland, California, 2005.

Softcover, 178 pages, $19.95.

Update: (March 29, 2006)

New Village Press has posted this book's missing page on its website. To view it, visit www.newvillagepress.net/cover_ecoDesign.html, and click on "Errata page 84/85."

Searching for a master’s in architecture program myself, I was delighted to hear about

Ecological Design and Building Schools. I have been looking for a school that places ecological design at the center of its curriculum and not at the fringe; I’ve also been searching for reputable programs that would add practical, hands-on building experience to my design education.

One of the strengths of Earley’s book is that it includes programs that meet both of these interests. It lists a total of 82 programs, in varying shades and styles of green, in three categories:

•Continuing education, nonprofessional—owner-builder schools and educational institutes offering workshops of all types and styles;

•Continuing education, professional—associations and resource centers, including the U.S. Green Building Council, that offer training programs for professionals; and

•Higher education—colleges and universities offering degree programs.

At the heart of the book, 24 pages of charts of survey results offer meaty information about what type and style of teaching is offered where; unfortunately, the results suffer from a format that renders them difficult to read, and some of the content appears to have been jumbled in the layout, with one two-page spread repeated and another omitted.

The charts and listings are supplemented by an excellent overview of the field, first with a historical perspective—beginning with the establishment of the Society of Building Science Educators in 1982—and then with an essay surveying the various types of programs available. Those involved in developing educational programs in sustainable design will also appreciate the directory of curriculum resources.

Though the book is comprehensive in its coverage, it runs into a problem of depth. Short profiles of several programs, survey results, and “lightly edited” blurbs submitted by the schools give the reader the ability to note programs of interest, but in the end the book offers more to students searching for programs with specific courses in specific geographic locations than students hoping to discern between master’s-level programs to make career decisions. It does not give a sense of how various programs are regarded in the field, and it does not provide enough information for the reader to compare programs within the same category.

Nonetheless, the book’s achievement—pulling this wide range of programs into one directory—should not be underestimated. This title is well on its way to becoming a much-needed clear and comprehensive description of the educational offerings available in the field of ecological design.

Published February 1, 2006

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