On May 14th, 2018, we hosted our own Problem Project Expo. Made possible through funding and support from the Gallatin Student Resource Fund, the event blended academic inquiry with artistic expression and thoughtful design in a true interdisciplinary style. Our goal was to create an opportunity for NYU, Gallatin, and our broader NY community to have a public conversation on the importance of education reform in the modern era. To help lead us in this conversation, we invited a panel speakers including feminist and psychologist Carol Gilligan, Steinhardt Department Chairs James Fraser and Catherine Milne, and education entrepreneur Devanshi Garg.
Photos and video coming soon...
A Few Words on Money and Safety
Yes, our proposed renovations are expensive. No, we do not think they are unrealistic, but we do acknowledge they are a far reach in the current political paradigm which prioritizes battleships and stealth drones over school supplies and teacher pay. No, we do not think this is a copout. We must decide collectively where we want to invest our resources to strengthen our country and prepare for the future, and we think it is clear brains wins out over brawn in the long run. In our designs we have created opportunities for students and teachers to work together to provide value to their community, raise money for their school, and fund a portion of their programs, but public schools cannot exist without public funding. Our hope is that our designs inspire legislators to rethink their investments in our children's future.
Given recent events, we think it likewise important to address safety and security. The school we have redesigned currently keeps its doors closed, and its curtains drawn. There are access scanners at the front entrance, but only teachers and one student with a disability have keys, and the doors lock automatically behind you. This makes sense for security reasons, but creates an atmosphere that feels more like a prison than an inspiring place for learning. In our designs we chose to embrace the floor to ceiling windows that surround the school, and added a three hundred and sixty degree glass ring for full viewing of the fantastic surrounding landscape. We also cut out the middle section of the school between the gym and the auditorium, and added a lofted Student Atrium with revolving glass doors for free fluid flow from the front of the school to the back.
The school we have designed does not exist in a country which lacks adequate gun control laws, and prioritizes the safety of our children over our right to bear semi-automatic weapons. Instead of constraining our architectural designs and tailoring them to a weaponized country, we made the conscious decision to focus on designs that build community, give students agency in their learning, and cultivate a sense of belonging, which we hope would prevent students from building the resentment and contempt that fuels violent acts of revenge in the first place. When students feel they are being valued as individuals and have a meaningful role to play in their community, our belief is that they will focus on contributing to the collective, rather than seeking to destroy it.
Community is everything, and in the 21st century, when our attention is increasingly spent online funding large corporations with no regard to local communities, we believe reforming our schools to serve as empowering and inspiring community centers is a strong step towards a brighter future for all.