Living atlas of quality
in architecture and the built environment

CIS #16: Teaching and Learning from Indigenous perspectives at McEwen School of Architecture (Laurentian University) - 08.03.2024

Integrated resilienceIntegrated resilience


Over the last 15 years, the McEwen School of Architecture developed a curriculum with the indigenous community, the university and others that led to a radical reformulation of subjects and ways to teach that included Indigenous knowledge and worldviews. Elders participating in Design Studios, valuing student experience, and sharing lessons regarding Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) led to new paths. Indigenous faculty were hired to lead discussions about experience and identity, and funding was raised for indigenous students to succeed in the program.

This seminar introduces some of the design experiments and courses that all McEwen Architecture students experienced. Many of the courses and design-build activities are experimental in nature. We have had an intentional focus on hands-on learning and fieldwork. Faculty members and knowledge keepers often work together with students. Topics to be addressed include how sharing and respect were fostered in this model, at an intersection where sustainable design meets Indigenous worldviews. Further reflection on the difficulties of actually changing paradigms leads directly to issues regarding “quality in the built environment.”

About the presenters:

Terrance Galvin, FRAIC, is presently Professor and Founding Director (2012-2017) of the McEwen School of Architecture at Laurentian University (LU) in Sudbury. He holds degrees in architecture from the Technical University of Nova Scotia (TUNS), the History & Theory of Architecture Program at McGill University, and a PhD in Architecture from the University of Pennsylvania (PENN). He has taught design and histories + theories of architecture at McGill University (Montréal) and at Dalhousie University (Halifax), where he was Director of the School of Architecture. Nationally, Galvin served twice as President of the Canadian Architectural Certification Board (CACB-CCCA) that accredits professional programs of architecture. Current research includes being a site leader at LU in the SSHRC ‘Partnership Grant’ “Quality in Canada’s Built Environment: Roadmaps to Equity, Social Value and Sustainability.” Galvin is a Fellow of the RAIC and a Paul Harris Fellow of the International Rotary Club.

Shannon Bassett trained both as an architect and an urban designer. She holds a Masters of Architecture in Urban Design (MAUD) from the Harvard Graduate School of Design and a Bachelors of Architecture with Distinction from the Carleton University School of Architecture. She is currently completing her PhD at Laurentian University in Human Studies and Interdisciplinarity, where she is investigating “Decolonizing Cities through Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK)”. (working title).
Her research, teaching, writing and practice operate at the intersection(s) of architecture, urban design and landscape ecology. She is the Co-Founder and Chair of the Advisory Board for BEA(N) – Building Equality in Architecture North.
She was recognized for her work in integrating diversity into the architectural curriculum with the 2023 ACSA Architectural Education Award, Diversity Achievement – Building Equality(ies) in Architecture North Coalition Building Category Honorable Mention.
Her design work and research has been exhibited both nationally, as well as internationally, including most recently at the “Time Space Existence” exhibit as part of the European Cultural Centre (ECC) biennial exhibition, and at the Hong Kong Shenzhen Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism and Architecture (2012). She was awarded a National Endowment for the Arts grant for (Re)Stitch Tampa. Ensuing from this research platform was the publication, “(Re)Stitch Tampa: Designing the Post-War Coastal American City through Ecologies", published by ACTAR.
Shannon is currently collaborating with the Delhi School of Planning and Architecture (SPA) in India on the conservation and urban redevelopment of the old walled city of Delhi, "Reducing Risk, Raising Resilience: Recovering the Public Spaces of Shahjahanabad through Participatory Conservation and Ecological Urbanism". This research is supported with an Insight Development grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. She also served as an Invited Critic to the Bhopal SPA for a landscape studio focussed on the preservation of Sacred Groves in India as protected cultural landscapes.
Watch the recording of the CIS here: