Week 13, April 26: Open Session

via Zak Jensen; used with permission

Again, we’ll keep this week open to respond to your evolving interests and needs and our evolving pandemic policies. We could plug in a lesson I’ve already (partly) assembled, crowdsource a new lesson, host a workshop, or, if public health conditions allow, plan a field trip or design a short team ethnography.


This week we’re taking a field trip to Little Island! We’ll consider how the space might serve as a pedagogical platform for learning about a variety of subjects – from climate to botany to structural engineering to real estate to urban history to philanthropy to (landscape) architecture to environmental psychology to anthropology and beyond.

After our tour and exploratory exercise, we’ll eat some pizza 🍕!

To Prepare for Our Visit:

  • Student Request: If you haven’t done so already, please share a brief overview of your final project in the #our-final-projects channel on Slack, so you and your classmates know with whom you’d like to discuss your work.
  • Pray for good weather!! 🙏🌞
  • Please peruse the Little Island website – including the sections on History, Design + Construction, and Explore the Landscape (you might want to check out a couple of the audio tours, too).
  • Read (1) Michael Kimmelman, “A New $260 Million Park Floats on the Hudson. It’s a Charmer,” New York Times (May 20, 2021) (if you hit the paywall, you can access the Times through the TNS Library!); (2) Justin Davidson, “Little Island Won Me Over,” Curbed (June 1, 2021); and (3) Henry Grabar, “The Big Problem With Little Island,” Slate (June 7, 2021). Yes, there’ll be some redundancy in these pieces, and that’s okay! We want to understand how these three critics observe differently, and what we can learn from their complementary methods! (e.g., Kimmelman pays a bit more attention to urban context; Davidson, to the affective and symbolic value of forms and materials; and Grabar to funding and politics).
  • Now, let’s think about Little Island’s potential as a pedagogical space: Read Conor Williams, “The Perks of a Play-in-the-Mud Educational Philosophy,” The Atlantic (April 26, 2018) and think back to Leanne Betasamosake Simpson’s “Land as Pedagogy.”
  • Please bring any of the following; a sketchbook and writing implements, a jar for collecting specimens, a microscope or telescope, or any other field collection + documentation tools you’d like to try out!

We’ll meet at the north entrance, just below 14th St @ West St, at 6:15pm. I’m happy to meet folks on the “Coach Corner,” the SE corner of 16th and 5th, at 5:50 if you’d like to walk over together!

Here’s our field booklet (thanks, Henry!)