Spring 2020

Humanitarian Design in Theory and Practice

Listed in: Architectural Studies, as ARCH-250  |  Art and the History of Art, as ARHA-250


Gabriel A. Arboleda (Section 01)


(Offered as ARCH 250 and ARHA 250) This course explores the challenges and possibilities of humanitarian design, a growing area of interest in architectural practice. The course includes a field trip to Ecuador, to take place over Spring Break. This field component is deeply integrated into the course contents. During the first part of the semester, students become familiar with relevant theoretical and practice-based approaches to disaster reconstruction. With that, they gain an understanding of the complexities of this area, and a good grasp of the tasks and issues to be dealt with in the field. Upon returning from Ecuador, the rest of the semester is devoted to debriefing, producing and analyzing documentation, and drawing general lessons for the theory and practice of humanitarian design. The main case study is that of post-disaster reconstruction following Ecuador’s 2016 Pedernales Earthquake, which killed over 600 people and injured over 16,000. We will study the outcome of diverse reconstruction efforts and approaches four years after the earthquake. In order to compare and contrast approaches, our fieldwork will focus on two settings, an urban and a rural one, both located in the coastal Manabí province.

Limited to 12 Amherst College students. Admission with consent of the instructor. There will be an application process before pre-registration. Those students selected will have their travel expenses covered. Spring semester. Assistant Professor Arboleda. 

[Update November 2019: The course application process is closed and students have already been selected. This course is open to Amherst College students only].

If Overenrolled: All students (including over-enrolled students) will submit an application, and if approved they will be authorized to register for the course.


Artistic Practice, Attention to Issues of Class, Attention to Issues of Social Justice, Attention to Research, Community Based Learning, Transnational or World Cultures Taught in English


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020