The Yucatan Institute for Sustainability is dedicated to preserving traditional knowledge and promoting sustainable design through education and research, while involving and supporting the local Maya community. Our vision merges principles of sustainability and alternative energy systems with traditional cultural knowledge to shape the interface of human cultures with their environment. The campus serves as a hands-on, real-world laboratory for experimentation and education. The goal is to provide a center where international scholars from diverse disciplines can work, study, interact, create, and exchange ideas while exploring common themes of sustainability, preservation, and innovation. It also supports the neighboring Maya community of Espita while its members confront the challenges of maintaining their cultural heritage.
The Maya have lived in the dry tropical forests of northern Yucatan for over 3,000 years. Despite the environmental hardships of periodic droughts and thin soils, ancient populations were able to prosper, as the elaborate architecture of their abandoned ancient cities attests. This course frames modern principles of sustainability and ecological design within a broader perspective gleaned from thousands of years of human habitation. Students will learn traditional building and design techniques collaborating with the local Maya community. Students joining this initial season of a new educational venture will literally have a hand in guiding its development as we explore the intersection of traditional culture, ecology, and sustainability. The result will be an unforgettable experience helping to design and build a new center for research and education in a tropical setting.
Students will complete the course having gained an intimate standing of human-landscape relationships in Yucatan from a millennia – long perspective. The course will illustrate the challenges and advantages to sustainable design in a tropical environment. Students will gain an understanding of the principles of historic conservation and learn traditional building techniques varying from wattle-and-daub and thatching to masonry walls and lime plastering. Finally students will have the chance to help design an educational and research facility completely off the grid. The master planning and design component will shape the direction for future courses.
The two course sessions will be offered this summer:
Session 1: June 14 – July 4
Session 2: July 5 - 25
Tuition for each session is $2200.