This page focuses on the course EC.716 D-Lab: Waste as it was taught by Kate Mytty and Pedro Reynolds-Cuéllar in Fall 2015.
This course provides a multidisciplinary approach to managing waste in low- and middle-income countries. The course focuses on understanding some of the multiple dimensions of waste generation and management. Topics are presented in real contexts, through case studies, field trips, labs, civic engagement, and research. Topics include consumer culture, waste streams, waste management, entrepreneurship and innovation on waste, technology evaluation, downcycling/upcycling, Life Cycle Analysis, and waste assessment.
Course Goals for Students
- Gain a better understanding and appreciation for the challenges related to waste management, both locally and abroad
- Learn how technology, society, and art relate to the problem of waste through a project-based approach
- Act on important waste issues through building technology (design), civic engagement (dialogue) or artistic expression (dissemination)
Every fall semester
Material flows are a major influence on the way we live our day-to-day lives and on the types of things we consume. The purpose of this class was to help students become more cognizant of the types of systems, technologies, and actors that exist within those flows.
— KATE MYTTY
Below, Kate Mytty describes various aspects of how she taught EC.716 D-Lab: Waste:
- Instructor Background
- Grounding the Course in Tangible Experiences
- Using Written Reflections to Encourage Students to Explore Waste through their own Lenses
- Designing and Assessing the Open-Ended Final Project
- Co-Teaching the Course
- Fostering Personalized Relationships with Students
The students’ grades were based on the following activities:
- 20% Readings, Attendance and Participation
- 20% In-class Presentation
- 15% Reflection Writings
- 15% Waste Tech Designs
- 30% Final Project
Instructor Insights on Assessment
Read Kate Mytty’s insights about designing and assessing the open-ended final project.
Breakdown by Year
Graduate students and fellows
Breakdown by Major
Students and fellows came from a variety of academic areas, including aeronautics and astronautics, industrial design management, business, computer science and urban planning.
Typical Student Background
Only about 1/5 of the class had professional experience in the waste and sustainability sector. Most students had thought about waste generally, but wanted to understand material flows in a more nuanced way.
HOW STUDENT TIME WAS SPENT
During an average week, students were expected to spend 9 hours on the course, roughly divided as follows:
3 hours per week
- Met 2 times per week for 1.5 hours per session; 26 sessions total.
- Class sessions included team work, discussion, exercises, and a presentation.
2 hours per week
- Met 1 time per week for 2 hours per session; 11 sessions total.
- Labs included field trips to waste management facilities in Cambridge and Boston and hands-on experiences.
- Students also viewed films centering on waste management and production.
Out of Class
4 hours per week
- Students prepared their assignments, writing reflections and final projects outside of class.
- Collaboration on projects and assignments was encouraged.