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PostTeaching Design in the Developing World: Four Divided Nations (Marga Jann, -UK, 08/10/12 4:59 pm)
JE: Last month Marga Jann sent me this extraordinary report, "Challenges to and Recommendations for 'Visitors' Teaching Design in the Developing World towards Sustainable Equitable Futures: Four Divided Nations." My extensive travels of the last several weeks kept me from giving it the attention it deserves. (Meaning, I apologize to Marga for the delay in posting.) I'm now pleased that Marga's essay is uploaded to the "publications" section of the WAIS homepage:
Click for the PDF file next to Marga's name.
Since 2005, Marga has had the unique experience of teaching design for an academic year or more in Sri Lanka, Northern Cyprus, Korea, and Uganda. Each of these nations has either historically suffered from strife and separatist conflict, or is presently still divided, as is the case in both Cyprus and Korea. Marga's reflection on sustainable design and architecture in all four nations is a remarkable study of contrast that reaches a number of surprising conclusions: who knew, for example, that Sri Lanka's low construction costs have led to some notable extravagances, such as swimming pools in bathrooms?
Although Marga directed a number of successful construction projects, she is also very honest about the hurdles and frustrations. Corruption and nepotism can be endemic, except in S Korea. Marga was particularly frustrated by the academic culture of Northern Cyprus, which closely monitored faculty activities, and required teachers to dutifully staff their offices from 9 to 5 daily. Punctuality and academic honesty were also challenges Marga faced.
I took away from Marga's essay some excellent recommendations: first of all is to instill a notion of "ethical intelligence," which is an eloquent way to describe an adherence to the highest standards of probity in one's academic and professional endeavors. This can be as minor a thing as punctuality, which is culturally relative (once again, not a "problem" in S Korea), to ensuring that architecture and design do not cut (corrupt) corners that may endanger a population.
Marga concludes her essay with an annex on fascinating architectural achievements in her four nations of residence. My personal favorite, if you can call it that, is the behemoth Ryugyong Hotel in Pyonyang, quite possibly the most dystopic structure ever built--or not built, as the hotel remains unfinished.
I sense from Marga's reflections that her favorite nation of the four was Uganda, where one can appreciate the marvels of nature, or what the author terms "Divine Design."
I am pleased to add Marga's essay as one of the inaugural publications in the WAISworld "books and essays" link. I urge WAISers to give it a read and send their comments.