independent school for the city

Citizens of the Anthropocene

A two-week studio exploring four philosophical viewpoints towards the Anthropocene and what it means for our urban surroundings, taking place from 16 - 27 March 2021

The Anthropocene – the geological era marking the dominant human impact on the Earth’s systems – is increasingly becoming a factor in the way we organize our cities. Many small-scale spatial initiatives in Rotterdam are taking steps towards a resilient and CO2 neutral city. These steps differ from technological solutions to the promotion of changes in social behaviour. Other parties simply deny our contribution to climate change or retreat into post-apocalyptic visions. How is Rotterdam still stubbornly depending on fossil energy, in daily life as well as in its economy? What positions can we distil from the city’s policies, existing initiatives and from our own ideas? How can we formulate a fertile approach to changing the fossil economy?

In this two-week studio we will discover the ultimate consequences of our attitude to the Anthropocene and what this means for our urban surroundings. A matrix of four basic attitudes towards the Anthropocene and a confrontation to the causes and effects of climate change, biodiversity loss, land use change et cetera will help us bring the effects of our actions close to home, literally and painfully. From the abstract levels of dealing with the climate in terms of policy, economy or science, we will dive right down to the level of everyday life in the city, in your own neighborhood, in your own street. If you are a denialist, expecting that the current upheavals are part of a geological cycle unaffected by humans, then how will you work, live and travel in the future, relieved of all restrictions and feelings of guilt or responsibility? What will your street look like? If your attitude is one of Deep Ecology and you feel that man should take steps back and realize he’s only a small cog in a living web of a myriad of species then how would you spend your days and your life. But what if you are a techno-optimist, expecting solutions from technology that would allow us to keep on developing, growing and innovating, without endangering our future, how would daily life be redesigned? And what if you would accept that our only way to survive and come to terms with the damage we have already done, is a radical deprogramming after a millennium of a fundamentalist belief in growth? How would we live then?

This studio is part of our intensive three-month programme on contemporary urbanism 'Dirty Old Town', but can also be taken separately. Regular tickets are available for 500 euro. Student tickets are available for 400 euro. The course is subject to Corona measures. We will determine in February 2021 whether the course can take place. You can register for this studio by sending an email to The payment should be completed by invoice two weeks before the start of the course. For practical reasons, a maximum of 15 participants (including the Dirty Old Town Participants) can take part in this course.

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