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Caribbean Futures
Workshop and Symposium

Escalating inequality and accelerating climate change are increasing challenges to just and sustainable livelihoods across the world, but particularly in the greater Caribbean region. The Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico have simultaneously connected and fragmented the more than thirty-five islands, countries, and territories of the greater Caribbean. A complex topography of cultures and languages feature geographic proximity but political disconnection.

To understand human occupation in the world, we tend to understand land as positive and water as negative, unoccupied. This has led to a perception of the American continent as three different pieces, but, if we invert this perspective, the Caribbean Sea becomes the center of the continent and new connections become evident. By focusing on this area, students and faculty at LSU and interested publics in southeast Louisiana will become more aware of the proximity, similarities, and fragility that exist in the Caribbean and Gulf coast region.  

The LSU School of Architecture’s All-School-Workshop 2023 will research initiatives that lead to actionable ideas for living in the greater Caribbean region. Experts from Haiti, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, Brazil, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay, and several institutions in the United States will gather in a four-day intensive and interdisciplinary space to discuss the future–or futures–of this region. Will the Caribbean be inhabitable in twenty or fifty years? How many hurricanes can the infrastructure of the Caribbean sustain on top of previously accumulated damage? What will happen to the food and energy sources of the region? How long will local economies and cultures survive the extractive interests of a globalized world? How will the built environment change in the coming decades?

The Caribbean Futures Workshop and Symposium will last four days. Sabine Malebranche, Nadine Carter Russel Chair, will host the event and present a keynote lecture on the first day, Wednesday, February 8th. The second and third days will kick off with short lectures where experts will present topics related to the region; following that, teams of students will join the expert guests in a workshop to discuss and envision possible futures in the greater Caribbean region. Using maps, collages, drawings, and digital models, each team will represent a possible future scenario in a Caribbean site to be shared out in a celebration on Friday evening. On the fourth and final day, the resulting documents and experiences will be exhibited and discussed in a symposium with the expert workshop leaders, LSU and regional faculty, and students. Before and during the workshop, students will have access to a curated collection of books, media, digital resources, and LSU School of Architecture faculty to enrich their design thinking and explorations.

Will Caribbean Futures be realized through engineered landscapes, coastal restoration, international solidarity, ecosystems protection, sustainable energy sourcing, new political organizations? All or none of these interventions? How can architecture, landscape, and planning contribute to one of the most fragile and culturally diverse areas on the planet surviving the coming years and beyond that, thriving and modeling a spatially just environment built on a history of inequality and liberation?

The Caribbean Futures workshop and symposium will gather scholars, practitioners, and students around the LSU School of Architecture to think beyond the disaster-recovery cycle and imagine how collective action grounded in Caribbean epistemologies could lead to a prolific future.

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