The Conway School is a concentrated, intensive, collaborative, and experiential ten-month Master of Science in Ecological Design program that takes a whole-systems ecological perspective, offering a distinctive academic experience that is firmly rooted in the real world. Students work on real projects for real clients as they are taught and mentored by faculty who are working professionals.
The mission of the school is to explore, develop, practice, and teach design of the land that is ecologically and socially sustainable. This mission guides decision-making at every level, including who is hired, what projects are undertaken, how the curriculum is structured, which guest instructors are invited, and what sites are visited on field trips.
The program is multidisciplinary and highly integrated across classes, studio, fieldwork, guest lectures, and project work. The progression of subjects addressed through the year is shaped by the design and planning projects that are the backbone of each term. In the process of completing three projects (at different scales), each student builds a professional-quality portfolio and prepares for a wide variety of careers. The final design and planning documents are presented to the project clients with the full intention that the projects will be implemented.
The Conway approach is a proven method of teaching ecological design thinking. Our approach is:
· Experiential, with students working on real projects with real clients at different scales, in urban, suburban, and rural/wild contexts.
· Integrated, with classes, studio time, field trips, and guest speakers organized to support and further the projects for each of three terms, rather than around discrete courses on separate topics.
· Collaborative, not competitive, with each student or team of students having an individual project, and everyone sharing the goal of learning about design that is ecologically and socially appropriate.
· Based on observation and analysis to understand underlying ecological and social systems and to design in accordance with them.
· Guided by consideration of values, ethics, and meaning.
· Structured to teach design thinking and communication skills through the lens of ecology, land use planning, and regenerative design, and reflecting an appreciation of individual learning styles.
Conway attracts highly motivated, self-directed learners who want to pursue ecological planning and design careers and who learn best in an intensive and applied program. Conway students have a strong commitment to social and environmental issues. The average graduation rate over the last ten years is 98 percent.
The school is located near downtown Northampton, a small city in the Massachusetts Pioneer Valley, near other educational institutions, socially and environmentally oriented municipal agencies and nonprofit organizations. The campus is adjacent to larger, denser urban environments, conserved farmland, upland forests, sensitive wetlands, walkable neighborhoods, and hiking trails—offering many examples of good and bad design/planning and many opportunities to apply whole-systems design thinking.
The Conway School is a concentrated, intensive, collaborative, and experiential ten-month Master of Science in Ecological Design program that takes a whole-systems ecological perspective, offering a distinctive academic experience…