The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Designing America's Difficult Past in Public Space

Course Code
AMST 2559
Kirt von Daacke
Assistant Dean and Professor
Elgin Cleckley
Assistant Professor

This course represents a virtual interdisciplinary exploration of historical interpretation and design challenges in public spaces and places that have an important story to tell about slavery, racism, and resistance in American history. Beginning right here at the University of Virginia, the students will learn how scholars and designers work in conversation with those who develop and interpret public spaces as part of efforts to tell more inclusive and honest histories. Students will engage with historical interpretive methodologies, public history theory and practice, museum best practices, and architectural and design theory and thinking. 

As we virtually visit sites across the South, students will work in teams to create multi-media travelogues analyzing the good, the bad, and the ugly of the history, the built landscape, the interpretations of the places we experience together. The students will be challenged to create their own team design proposals for a university or college struggling to reinterpret a specific space on their campus, employing public history theories, practices and design thinking.