Course Details

Public Space and Pedagogy

Core Skills – Semester 1, 2009

Monday – Thursday 9:30 – 5:00

Duration 10 weeks

Click here for the Course Schedule

Instructors: Ravindra Gutta, Smriti Mehra, Geetanjali Sachdev

Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology

Prerequisites Foundation year

Course Description

This course explores how public spaces serve as pedagogical sites where individuals learn to construct knowledge, values and identities. Drawing upon Henry Giroux’s work on the concept of public pedagogy, the course uses the street as a pedagogical public location to examine how it functions as a site of learning. It first attempts to understand the nature of the information introduced on the street. It then seeks to uncover the operations by which this information contributes to what individuals learn to know, to value and to identify with as they construct their lives. The last stage of the course involves challenging and reframing these constructions and locating these alternate viewpoints back in the public space as a pedagogical endeavour.

Course Overview and Methodology

The term pedagogy traditionally refers to teaching methods or tools. In this course, we will examine how public spaces serve as pedagogical sites from which individuals learn and which impact the way individuals think about themselves and others. We will be using a blend of approaches over the next ten weeks. Some approaches will involve using public spaces as a location for art and design practice to be housed within, and others will examine it as a specific tool for intervention. We will have taught class sessions, we will work with artists on their projects and we will be introduced to the ideas of invited speakers on topics related to public spaces and pedagogy. Towards the end of the course, you will be asked to respond to all that you have experienced by conceptualizing and realizing an artistic intervention in a public space. The following is a brief description of the nature of workshops that have been planned over the next ten weeks.

Contesting Public Space

What is public space, what does it mean to be a member of the public, what do you consume, knowingly and unknowingly in public spaces and can you contest public space? These questions will drive the first two weeks of the course and will be revisited over the ten weeks, led at different times by Srishti faculty members Ayisha Abraham, Ravi Gutta, Smriti Mehra and Geetu Sachdev.

Theatre in Public Space Workshop, Deepak Srinivasan

Theatre in Public space will form the performative element of the course using the self to  “enter” the space experientially. As an observer of space or an imbiber (from the outside) of information within the space, the “gain” one experiences is far different from one who engages with the space- with the activities of the space consciously. Performance allows for both engagement and observation and has textured pedagogical value. The performative content will emerge from the needs of the students and the space of engagement.

Photography Workshop, Anna Fox

Anna Fox’s photography workshop explores the theme of identity and the modern workingwoman and will use the street as a location within which to explore identities. You will explore the identities of the women in your family and your own identity in relation to the future modern workingwoman of India. What is your ideal, what do you want to change, what do want to keep and how do you compare yourselves with other world-views on the workingwomen? You will take turns at being both models and photographers and will learn how to use a large format camera during this collaborative workshop. You will need to bring your own digital cameras during this time.

Reading, Lata Mani

By drawing upon two examples of what we typically encounter on the street -garbage and the display of goods by vendors – Lata Mani will explore how our perceptual frames shape what we literally see or fail to see in our physical and sociocultural environments. Dr. Mani will argue that our capacity to learn depends on our ability to notice, a skill that in turn depends on our awareness of the socially constructed nature of our ways of seeing.

Local Letterforms Workshop, Mahindra Patel

Mahindra Patel will have a discussion on vernacular typography where you will look at local letterforms and the nature of type on the streets.

Blank Noise Project, Jasmeen Patheja

Jasmeen Patheja will explore further the Clothes Project where you will be able to see how public space is used a tool for a specific public intervention. More information on the project is available on the Blank Noise website.

Course Expectations

Attendance, punctuality, participation and preparation are key requirements. If for ANY REASON a student misses a class, it is that student’s responsibility to check with the instructor to see how the work missed can be made up. Late or incomplete assignments may not be accepted for evaluation.

All work must be appropriately crafted and maintained in good order for the final review. Students are expected to maintain a logbook to document their learning, observations, research and process. Each student should demonstrate a positive attitude toward learning the skills and processes covered in class, together with a willingness to participate in all related class discussions. Expect to spend, on average, at least 12 hours per week outside class time on the assignments.

Course Evaluation

Assessment will be based on willingness to engage with the readings and viewings, participation in class discussions, ability to work in a team and completion of all assignments on time. Assessment will consider whether all the requirements for each assignment have been met, the rigor in research and the aesthetics of the work presented. Assessment will include peer and group assessment.

A letter grade will be given for this course based on:

Participation in class discussions and critique: 20%

Log book: 15%

Studio assignments (group/individual): 30%

Final Project: 35%


Srishti Faculty

Geetanjali Sachdev:

Ravindra Gutta:

Smriti Mehra:

Avy Verghese:

Ayisha Abraham:

Vandana Goswami:

Srishti Research Students

Dharmang Prajapti, Aliya Pabani, Namrata Mehta


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