Special course packages for Design by Deficit

Lecture courses

Discussion Guide

Wild Site Evaluation Exercise

Further Reading list

Complimentary instructor paperback copy of Design by Deficit

Reading Groups

Discussion Guide

Author Q&A

Additional author talks available (additional fee may apply)

Custom packages available (fees may apply)

Studio courses

Discussion Guide

Site Design by Deficit Project Brief

Chaos at the Bus Stop Project Brief

Complimentary instructor paperback copy of Design by Deficit

Independent Study

(Ages 15 and up)

Discussion Guide

Wild Site Evaluation Exercise

For Further Exploration Guide

Project Coaching Available

[The class] cultivated free thinking… the most fun I have ever had in a class


Experience and Innovation in the Classroom

Susan has nearly 20 years of teaching experience in university settings, including creation of experiential, discussion, and lecture courses. We specialize in working with diverse audiences, including first-generation and under-represented students. We teach students in a variety of academic disciplines, including design and planning, natural resources, natural sciences, geography, environmental health, and sustainability.

 Course Topics

  • People in the environment
  • Sustainable development
  • Urbanism and urban design
  • Experiential/design studio instruction
  • Sociocultural issues and the environment
  • Environmental design research
  • Design site materials and construction

Chelsea Andersson, Studio|Next, Spring 2014

Michael Frederick, Sam Kolb, Curtis McMahon, and Gena Morgis. LSA 327, Spring 2013. 2013 ASLA Research Honor Award

Xin Jin Huang, LSA 326, Fall 2011

Selected Classes

People in the Environment

Graduate/undergraduate, interdisciplinary. 2011-2014

Do people need nature? 

What makes a place feel safe or dangerous, interesting or confusing, welcoming or alienating?

What do these questions have to do with real places?

This course will answer these questions, principally by delving into the world of Environment and Behavior (E&B) research, which provides a powerful body of evidence to inform and justify decisions about shaping places for people. Learning about the material in this course will help you design, enhance, and preserve places that make people feel comfortable, interested and safe, and minimize places that make users feel uncomfortable, bored or threatened. These objectives are central to successful design, planning, management, and policy. This course takes an applied view of E&B research, focusing on the “greatest hits” of the research.

City Wild Seminar:

Abandonment, Invasives, and Losing Control

Graduate/undergraduate, interdisciplinary. 2013-2015

In the shrinking city, this is a moment of increasing wildness, at the intersection of increasing invasive species, abandonment and vacancy, and an apparent loosening of control over public and private green space. Phenomena and trends from economics, politics, demographics, and the natural sciences converge at this effect: increasing disorder and decay, with a resurgence of nature and unkempt spaces. As humans, we have a long cultural and evolutionary history with wilderness and nature, narratives that continue to develop today, impacting how we react to, perceive and ultimately live within the wilder city.

Studio | Next

Building the Post-Carbon City

Graduate/undergraduate, architecture. 2016

Postindustrial cities currently face the challenge of climate change, failing infrastructure, and technological innovation, demanding practical visions characterized by innovation and synthesis: aka design thinking. In this studio, we engage these challenges with the tools of urban design, addressing economic, political, and ecological issues through their effect on the urban environment and its residents. Our main project will harness the current moment of action on clean energy at the federal, state, and local levels to make the postindustrial city a better place for people.