Resilience in a time of crisis

Published March 22, 2020


COVID-19 Response Website

Blue square with COVID-19 Update and url:

Check this page regularly for the latest on our response to the COVID-19 crisis and for helpful links and resources as we transition to a completely remote/distance learning community.

Dear Students,

Over the past week, our university, nation, and the world have witnessed the rapid escalation of the COVID-19 crisis and confront together a new reality of drastic, unprecedented measures to protect the health and safety of the public – even as we seek to maintain continuity and quality in our academic programming.

Now more than ever, we draw upon the spirit of experimentation that has underpinned the School of Architecture and Planning – since its founding 50 years ago – as we transition our entire program to 100% online learning. Never before have we had to make such a significant shift in our pedagogy in such a short time.

We enter this adventure with a real curiosity about both what we teach and how we learn in collaboration with schools of architecture and planning all over the world. This will be a real challenge and a great experiment in approaches to learning – and you will be part of it. We will generate novel modes of learning and, if we watch ourselves carefully, we will see a need to expand the experiment. For instance, how can we capture important parts of what needs to be taught that are not now well supported by our initial distance learning approaches, or that are not well supported by the curriculum we have been using the past several years?

You are active participants in this global experiment. When we conclude, we will have new ways to teach to add value to what we already know works well. Your faculty and staff, like you, are very interested to see what we can learn from this experience and translate that learning into the next 50 years of teaching, research, and learning at the school. 

Perhaps more importantly, if we can change our teaching program this dramatically in two weeks, and change the behavior of global citizens in just two months, think about what that means for the global challenges we face as professionals. Think about climate change, the extinction crisis, and the dynamics of equity and inclusion through the agency of architecture, planning, and real estate development. There are opportunities to learn from our response to the pandemic – now and in the spring and summer to come. This situation has taught us about making rapid changes when such changes are required.  

    Circulating on the web now is this dialogue:

    WORLD: There is no way to shut everything down to lower emissions, slow climate change, and protect the environment.

    MOTHER NATURE: Here’s a virus. Practice.

As we wade into this experiment tomorrow, visit the school’s COVID-19 response website for answers to frequently asked questions and to review what resources are available to you in this transition in the educational approach by our school. Stay in communication (not “in touch”) with your faculty and staff. Stay safe. We will want to hear from you and to make regular improvements to our work together. It will take all of us working collaboratively to succeed.

All the best,

Bob Shibley