Requirements + Assignments

Your Contributions

  • Attendance and Participation: 20%
  • Reading Responses: 3x between January 31 and March 14; due Wednesdays @ noon: 15%
  • Project Plan + Environmental Scan: Due Friday, March 16* @ 5pm: 15%
  • Precedent Analysis: Due April 4 @ noon: 15%
  • Final Project: Due Wednesday, May 9, before class: 25%
  • Self- / Group Analysis: Due Thursday, May 10 @ 5pm: 10% (Since we’ve got no group projects, we’ll just skip this 🙂


Our class is a mix of seminar and workshop, and its success depends on your regular attendance and reliable participation. We need each other to show up on time, having completed the readings, and prepared to engage constructively and respectfully with one another.

[I apologize for the pedantry of the following, yet I’ve learned that it’s necessary to spell this out:] 

If you must be absent, please notify me in advance. One absence will not affect your grade. Two absences will result in a “one-step” reduction in your final grade (i.e., from an A to an A-). Three absences will result in a “two-step” reduction. Four absences will result in failure of the course; to avoid the ‘F’ on your transcript, I’ll instead advise you to withdraw from the class. Please note that absences include those days you might miss at the beginning of the semester because of late registration. Please note, too, that an absence does not entitle you to a private reenactment of the missed class.

I am required by The New School to take attendance at the start of class. Students who arrive more than 15 minutes late will thus be marked absent. Your timely arrival is appreciated. Students who are consistently late disrupt their classmates and impede our class progress.

[I have adapted the following from my colleague Amir Husak:] While I am happy to work with you to tailor the class’s content and assignments to your interests, and to develop strategies for project planning and time management, I also recognize that “it is every student’s right to fail.” There are myriad circumstances — personal, professional, cultural, etc. — that might prevent you from fulfilling the class requirements. While I appreciate that these circumstances are often difficult, the class requirements remain the same for everyone. 

Your attendance and participation account for 20% of your final grade. 


As I explain in my “notes about the weekly readings/screenings/listenings,” we won’t discuss everything you’ve been asked to read for each week. And that’s okay; your thinking about our course material should extend beyond the brief time we spend together each week. Yet in order to make sure our in-class discussions do address those texts, themes, challenges that resonate amongst, or beset, many of you, I ask you to submit at least three brief reading responses during the first half of the semester, between January 31 and March 15. You’re encouraged to choose those weeks during which the readings evoke a strong response – whether epiphany, joy, rage, whatever. These 150- to 300-word (maximum!) responses should involve some critical, synthetic reflection on the week’s assigned texts (by “synthetic,” I mean thinking across the texts, rather than focusing on one and ignoring all the rest), but would also ideally include: ideas and/or passages you find particularly captivating or frustrating; questions you’d like us to address as a group; connections you’ve drawn between the readings and your own interests  (and which you might like to pursue in your final project); questions about method or relevance or ethics, etc. Please post your responses as comments to the appropriate day’s page on our class website by noon on Wednesdays before class (if you’re uncomfortable sharing your work online, talk to me; we’ll devise an alternative delivery method). Your responses account for 15% of your final grade.


Throughout the semester we’ll examine the myriad human and non-human intelligences that are built into our smart cities, and that have historically been present over the longue durée. We’ll also examine different approaches to operationalizing and evaluating intelligence, including scientific, administrative, designerly, and artistic approaches to monitoring and testing smart cities. Your challenge will be to choose an epistemological and methodological orientation and develop a “test kit” (broadly conceived!) with which we can evaluate – earnestly, speculatively, or parodically – various forms of “urban intelligence.” Your kit might take any of a variety of forms: an instrument, an interface, a tool, a text, etc.

While you’re free to work independently on your projects, you’re also welcome to join forces with one or more students to produce a more comprehensive “kit of parts.” Ideally, our various group-project-based labs – from Week 3 through Week 8 – will help you to identify like-minded folks, and our proposal presentations on March 28 will tease out potential intersections.

Please note, too, that because our class is a practice-based seminar and not a traditional design studio, we’ll start the semester with several weeks of research (usually paired with labs in which we apply our theoretical and historical readings in a creative activity) before we turn our attention to the execution of your final projects. That said, design-oriented students are welcome to begin thinking about potential final-project outcomes early in the semester and to apply our critical lessons through independent prototyping.

You can read about last Spring’s student projects here.


You are responsible for submitting a final project proposal to Shannon and Jonas by Friday, March 16 @ 5pm, via Google Drive (in edit-able form; i.e., no pdfs, please; tips here). I set the deadline before Spring Break so as to preserve your vacation. If you’re having trouble, I’m happy to chat with you in advance of the deadline to help you develop your proposal — and, if necessary, to consider potential extensions.

Your 900- to 1500-word project plan and environmental scan (shorter for individual proposals, longer for groups) should address the following:

  • the critical ideas informing your project
  • the various stakeholders in those critical concerns
  • your design concept (e.g., are you writing a policy paper, designing a guidebook, inventing an intelligence-testing instrument, creating a kit of tools, etc.?)
  • your primary audiences / user groups, and the desired impact on each
  • the “tone” of your project (realist, activist, speculative, functional – in other words: is it meant to work in the “real world,” or is it a utopian/dystopian/jokey thought experiment?)
  • the material properties of your “deliverable,” and how that/those format(s) serve(s) your larger goals
  • the environment(s) in which user groups will engage with your project
  • your project’s functionality – or, how it will ideally work (particularly if you’re making something non-textual)
  • precedent projects (include multimedia documentation, if appropriate)
  • relevant critical literature
  • a tentative development plan

These bullet points needn’t dictate the organization of your plan; you’re free to determine the structure of your document, so long as it addresses the above issues and any others that you regard as pertinent.

You’ll be sharing your proposal in class, in a five-minute-per-person presentation, on March 28. We’ll prepare a collaborative slideshow on Google Slides. Each student will be allocated five slides: (1) a title slide, where you’ll put your name and (tentative) project title; (2) a slide with a brief description of the critical themes and topics informing your project; (3) a slide describing the material format of your project; and (4-5) two slides to use as you wish. You’re encouraged to incorporate images and other media.

Your project plan and environmental scan account for 20% of your final grade.


We’ll be exploring precedent projects throughout the semester. Each of you should choose one project – a testing rubric, kit, plan, performance, method, etc. – that has some epistemological interest at its core, and that pertains to your own topical interests in the class. Ideally, your case study will be drawn from the “environmental scan” you completed for your proposal. Assess its (1) subject matter or purview; (2) its underlying epistemology and methodology; (3) how its format or mode of execution serves, or fails to serve, its purposes; and (4) its weaknesses or unexplored critical dimensions.

By noon on April 4, please post your 600-word (undergrads) or 900-word (grads) analysis to our class website. Jonas will have created a wordpress account for each of you, and you’ll find posting tips here. Please include images and other media; you’ll need to draw on this material for our in-class exercise: we’ll organize you into thematic groups, your groups will create “science fair posters,” and then we’ll do a show and tell.

You can see last Spring’s precedent analyses here. Your precedent analysis accounts for 20% of your final grade.


Because we’ll be publishing our work in a booklet (you’ll find formatting guidelines here), all individuals and groups will be responsible for submitting carefully edited and formatted documentation of their final projects. We’ll discuss publication specifications in class near the end of the semester. Final projects and documentation are due before class begins on May 9, and they account for 30% of your final grade. 


Edit: April 24: This exercise was meant to allow you to assess the contributions of your group members — and to hold them accountable. Since we’ve got no group projects, we’ll just skip this, and you’ll all get ten free points 🙂

By 5pm on Thursday, May 10, each student must submit to Shannon and Jonas, via Google Drive, a brief evaluation of their own, or their group’s, overall accomplishments and, if applicable, each group member’s individual contribution. Self-assessments (~600 words) or group assessments (~ 900 words) should include the following:

  • a brief restatement of what you or your group set out to accomplish and an evaluation of whether you met those initial goals, or how your goals might have evolved over the course of the semester
  • if applicable, a brief discussion of your group’s dynamic and work process, and how they might have evolved over the course of the semester
  • if applicable, a brief discussion of each group member’s contribution (including your own), including any challenges individual members might have presented
  • any additional big-picture reflections or minor details you’d like to share.

Your assessment accounts for 10% of your final grade.

Images: Present & Correct