Dialectic is a peer-reviewed journal of the School of Architecture at the University of Utah. The recently published tenth volume, DECARBONIZING DESIGN / MOBILIZING AGENCY, was edited by Assistant Professors Michael Abrahamson and Dwight Yee.
The editors decided to foreground environmental sustainability and resilience, which has undeniably become the defining issue of our time in the discipline and the profession over the past several years. A dialectic typically involves opposing sides, but here the editors are positing two aspects of the same problem: the unsustainability of our built environment industry. In the call for proposals, Assistant Professors Michael Abrahamson and Dwight Yee posed a series of prompts to situate a dialog between two suggestive phrases, “mobilizing agency” and “decarbonizing design.” The former was intended to elicit new ways of discussing, theorizing, or conceptualizing the issues of sustainability and resilience. The latter would elicit questions about current and hypothetical implementation paths.
The submissions that were received did not precisely fit that categorization; the difference between them is more nuanced and fluid. The authors in this issue of Dialectic have directed their attention to culture, as much as technology, and inward toward “developed” nations and economies. As prime culprits for carbon emissions, the cultural field in such affluent societies must rapidly and urgently be ready for a transformation.
Questions of environmental responsibility have also proven central to the evolution of Dialectic’s publishing format. This volume is the first to adopt an online multimedia platform fully. This is partly an acknowledgment that the dialog on contemporary practice has shifted, with digital platforms becoming hubs for these conversations. The importance and success of these digital-first platforms are mainly due to their ease of access and the opportunity for a more diverse and equitable representation of architecture from around the world.