Azra Akšamija
Nolan Dennis
MW 9:30-12:30

Culturally Sensitive Design is a cross-disciplinary course that explores art & design methods in the humanitarian context with a focus on the revitalization of cultural memory and the advancement of transcultural understanding. The course investigates how artistic translations of historical cultural forms could provide means to address the loss of history, memory, and identity of displaced communities. This course springs from an understanding that culture is a basic human need, and an essential form of response to conflict and crisis. An understanding of creative expression in different cultural contexts and the re-interpretation of cultural heritage in the built environment within the context of refugee camps is therefore indispensable.

This hands-on course involves a collaboration of MIT students with refugee learners in the Al Azraq Camp in Jordan and students from the German-Jordanian University (GJU) in Amman, Jordan. The class results in the collaborative creation of components for an immersive cultural / educational space in the Al Azraq refugee camp through three design exercises: ceiling, floor, and seating. The design work represents the contemporary re-interpretation of regional cultural forms, such as the three-dimensional Islamic geometrical stalactites (muqarnas), digital textile crafts and sand-based techniques to be invented and adjusted to the specificities of the refugee camp.

The course is developed through the J-WEL Grant in Education Innovation. Interested students will have an opportunity to build on this course in the summer in the Al Azraq Camp. Students of all backgrounds and disciplines are welcome.

Limited to 20.