Shelter: Making Ourselves at Home

Shelter: Making Ourselves at Home in a Changing World

Conveners: Laurie Patton and Patrick Bayer
Course Number: ARTS&SCI 390/ECON 390/PUBPOL 290/ENVIRON 390/CULANTH 290/SOCIOL 390
Mondays 6:15 - 8:45, Room 139 SS
Spring 2014

Course Summary:

Ivan Illich once wrote, “Just tell me how you dwell and I will tell you who you are.” Ideas about shelter and home have always shaped human identity and human flourishing. In this course, we will ask: What is “home” and how do we define it? What is the difference between shelter and home?  What is the role of the home and the structure of human settlement in family, cultural, social, economic and natural life? This course begins with an examination of the central role of the home in the organization of family and community life. It focuses on the cultural history of home from the viewpoints of literature, history, religion, and the arts. It then moves to an examination of the role of housing in society and the economy, focusing on the self-organization of societies into cities and neighborhoods and the socioeconomic and political consequences of these structures. The course closes with an examination of the ways that human settlement intersects with natural ecosystems.  A focus of this final segment of the course will be the environmental sustainability of human development.

Building on the previous course themes of “Food,” and “Water,” the third University Course, “Shelter,” gathers faculty, students and administrators together as a university community to reflect on a common concern in a single, credit-bearing class. The course is open to all students at Duke and will host lecturers from across the Schools and Institutes.