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Rebuilding Puerto Rico

Spring 2019: Tuesday and Thursday, 10:30-11:45 am
Ross-Blakely Hall, Room 171

What are the responsibilities of citizens and the state in the rebuilding process?


What are the moral and political issues involved in disaster response and rebuilding?


What claims of justice do those affected have?


How have race and ethnicity shaped the U.S. government’s response? 


Does rebuilding create opportunities for positive change from the pre-disaster status quo? If so, how can that change be brought about? 


This course will reflect on global challenges that precipitate natural disasters, like the one experienced in Puerto Rico, and explore the reasons that have constrained recovery efforts.

In September 2017, Puerto Rico was devastated by an unusually powerful hurricane, which rendered the island’s physical and socioeconomic systems nearly powerless. Almost a year later, none of those systems has recovered. Why is it taking so long? The challenges posed in rebuilding Puerto Rico reflect the challenges of urban and human resilience in the context of climate change and the expected higher frequency of extreme weather phenomena.

The Rebuilding Puerto Rico Humanities Lab will investigate the ethical and political questions, as well as the technological and strategic ones, entailed in this and other disaster recoveries. This lab will empower students to address these and other questions through interactive, team-focused, question-based learning, whose outcomes will be shared on campus and in the larger community.

Course Learning Outcomes

  • Develop proposals for sustainable recovery
  • Develop collaborative skills around an idea or argument
  • Develop proposals for environmental justice in recovery
  • Develop standards for judging proposals
  • Develop a conceptual vocabulary to talk about what happened in Puerto Rico
  • Discuss how to share learning in the Lab with the broader public
  • Evaluate mock funding proposals for projects to aid Puerto Rico
  • Identify which features of Puerto Rico’s urban development make the Puertorrican experience a salient cautionary tale about the challenges faced by many Coastal cities throughout the world as they adapt (or not) to extreme weather events made more intense and frequent by climate change.

The following semester, four students from the Rebuilding Puerto Rico Lab extended their work within the Lab into a Beyond the Lab project. Read about their work here.

Enrollment Information

Spring 2019: Tuesday and Thursday, 1:30am-2:45am

 Ross Blakely Hall, Room 171

Humanities Lab Philosophy
HUL 394  PHI 394
School of Sustainability
SOS 394

*SOS prerequisites can be waived. Talk to your advisor today!


Instructional Team

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Faculty: Jose Lobo

Sustainable Cities
School of Sustainabilty

Faculty: Elizabeth Brake

School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies
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Librarian: Lisa Kammerlocher

Head E-Learning and Instruction
E-Learning and Instruction
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Librarian: Wes Edens

Liaison Librarian
Social Science Division

Instructional Team