Where Did We Turn Left

In reflecting how far I have made it to my goal for this course thus far, I have decided that I have grown quite a bit. This course is structured in a way that I feel as though I know what is coming each class and it has made learning significantly easier for me. I understand exactly what my professor is expecting out of me, and I can confidently say I come out of every class with another step towards my goal made. With the readings, pre-discussion questions, discussions, and lectures I learn something new every class. What I learn always consists of not only new information but also new ways of looking at the world/problems that our world faces. This has positively impacted my learning in ways I didn’t think it would at the beginning of the semester. My major is architectural engineering construction project management, during both lecture and discussion I have found myself thinking of solutions I have seen or think of that can be applied to my field of study. This shows growth that has occurred within me because I am no longer thinking of things that are considered “normal” solution within my field, but I now think of solutions that may work better. This is because during class I have listened to other people thoughts/concerns and applied them to my own way of thinking to come up with solutions that benefit not only the problems I’ve thought of but also problems that concern others. Being exposed to other problems that in the back of my head I knew existed but never really spent time thinking about has also fostered growth. I’ve been given a setting specifically set aside for thinking about problems that exist in our world, what my opinions on those problems are, what ways can those problems be solved, how do those problems affect others’ lives, and how likely are those problems to be the reason the world ends. 

It’s important to learn what exists in our world only to destroy so that as we continue through future generations such things can be avoided. This is much easier said than done. Our generation has adapted a way of living that makes life less complicated and a lot of fun, however its overly detrimental to our environment. One might argue that if we go back to the way our ancestors lived, we will be fine. To be quite honest that’s what I would’ve argued before this course. Now that I’ve been in the course for a minute and have heard others’ point of views, I’ve learned there’s too many different problems that need solving to have such a simple answer.

In reflection I’ve also learned that while we can suggest changes healthy for our environment all we want unless society deems it popular it won’t be implemented on a large scale. As an architectural engineer, problems that I am going to face in my field regarding sustainability will sound like too much demolition waste, not enough building supplies to keep our country building in the future, costs of materials rising due to demand, family’s incapable of huffing the bill for construction of their new home, customers wanting to use the most environmentally detrimental materials for their building projects, etc. These are all issues with surely many solutions however, how many of them will be implemented on a large scale? Will smaller architectural engineers be able to slowly implement better material usage and the rest of the world eventually catch on? Will society turn to more earth-friendly materials on its own? All of these are questions are extremely pressing yet have no definitive answer. This course has made me question which direction the future of architecture and construction should go versus the way it is seeming like it is going to go. How did we get to a place where we pick development over protection of our home? When did we take the turn from taking care of our environment to making sure we are making the maximum amount of money out of the biggest building possible at the expense of land? Not only at the expense of land but also at the expense of naturally made materials and habitats for animals necessary to our ecosystems. How will we continue when every inch of our country is covered in buildings? Answers to these questions look like reusing buildings, recycling demolition materials, setting aside land that can’t be built on, slowing production of detrimental materials, replanting what is taken out of the ground, etc. However, not everyone is on board with these changes. As a matter of fact, most people aren’t on board with these changes. For those not on board with these changes they will continue on with the methods currently in place and depending on numbers the architectural and construction world will not change. 

The problem lies in the fact that people like “new and shiny” not “old and loved”. New and shiny does not involve recycled materials, or repurposed buildings, or land prohibited from having buildings on it. New and shiny is where we went wrong. New and shiny is what has caused the influx of old buildings coming down and a new one going right back up in its place. New and shiny is what has been destroying our land, taking away habitats for animals, making the cost-of-living rise, making the cost of materials rise, etc.

That was a little insight to what this course has given me the ability to realize about the field I am studying. I still have a way to go regarding ways to implement positive change within my field however, I’ve made a strong first step. From here my knowledge of wicked problems can only increase and the solutions to these problems are endless. The important thing is finding which one society will accept and sticking to it for the betterment of our earth. My hope is that someday I will be able to say what I am doing is not detrimental to the earth.

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