University of Virginia Vice President for Research
Sustainability Research Initiatives

Morven Courses

movie "interdisciplinary interaction", Ben Cohen, Science, Technology, and Society, College of Arts and Sciences, talking about the separate but mutually supportive interaction among the faculty.
movie "A new way of conceiving of research", Scot French, School of Architecture.

Spring 2012

HIUS 4051: The Early Republic and the Worlds of William Short
Elizabeth Klaczynski Bartlett, History, College of Arts and Sciences; and Laura Voisin George
The long life of William Short (1759-1849) presents a unique opportunity to examine the early national period of the United States. Known as an “adoptive son” and protégé of Thomas Jefferson, the experiences of William Short – one of the first U.S. diplomats, immersed in Enlightenment-influenced salons at the commencement of the French Revolution, an agriculture reformer and an abolitionist, and a successful investor and philanthropist – present opportunities to study the rapidly changing political, economic, and social patterns of the Atlantic World between the U.S. Revolutionary War and the eve of the Civil War. Students will identify research topics related to Short utilizing a microhistory-type approach to frame an individual's life in the context of his time.

Summer 2011

Morven Summer Institute+

Spring 2011

SARC 5500: Cultural Landscape Networks & Sustainable Scholarship
Scot French, School of Architecture
Advanced undergraduate and graduate students participated in a critical examination of current practice in the preservation and sustainability of cultural landscapes, working with faculty in the rethinking of scholarly practice and experimental approaches to research, teaching, and publication. With an eye toward developing new strategies for cross-disciplinary collaboration and community engagement, the course reviewed tools and methodologies currently used to find/store/retrieve data, images, and text, and how they are communicated in academic settings and with community partners. The course also examined the potential of visualization technologies and social media to inform, sustain, and extend this work through information flows and institutional relationships, and the design of virtual and physical spaces for sustainable scholarship. The course was one of the pilot projects of the School of Architecture’s Sara Shallenberger Brown Cultural Landscapes and Sites Initiative sponsored by the REGENERATE Preservation and Sustainability Collaborative.

J-Term 2011

STS 2500: History, Technology, and Sustainable Agriculture
Benjamin Cohen, Science, Technology, and Society Studies

Common to today’s various efforts for sustainable agriculture is an awareness of the downsides to the increasing space between producer and consumers. That space has been growing since the 1800s and has in part been shaped by technological developments. This course enabled students to understand how the modern industrial system was built so that they might engineer solutions to overcome the problems of that system. By discussing the historical, political, and cultural contexts of industrial and non-industrial food systems, with particular attention to the current local food movement in central Virginia, the community engagement-focused course examined sustainable agriculture and its associated elements—organic farming and the local food movement—drawing from the conceptual tools of STS, as well as field trips, and guest speakers from the Charlottesville local food community. The students’ culminating project placed elements of the local food system into their historical and technological context. The course was affiliated with the UVA Food Collaborative and the non-profit Local Food Hub, and presented in collaboration with the Politics of Food class.

PLAP 3160: The Politics of Food
Paul Freedman, Politics, College of Arts and Sciences

How and what we eat is basic to who we are as individuals, as a culture, and as a polity. This course examined the production and consumption of food in a political context. Food politics and policy in the United States have received increased attention in recent years. Legislation, regulation, and subsidies for particular products and practices have critical implications for the environment, for health (including the dramatic rise in obesity, diabetes, and drug-resistant infections), and for other budget priorities. Looking at food politics through a series of “food fights,” the course examined controversies over agricultural subsidies, labeling requirements, issues relating to food and health, and considered ways in which food politics represents a distortion of fundamental democratic principles. The course was presented in collaboration with the History, Technology, and Sustainable Agriculture class.

Fall 2010

Arch 5590:
Bill Sherman, Karolin Moellmann, School of Architecture

As part of the re-programming and re-design of Morven's equestrian barns, this studio explored an alternative approach to providing toilet and bathing facilities within the barns - by developing a free-standing bath house adjacent to the barns. In addition to this site-specific solution which could serve as a model for remote research stations, national parks and youth hostels, the self-contained bathing facility design has potential for both commercial uses, and for humanitarian relief in disaster response situations and to meet basic needs in under-served communities in which access to clean water and sanitary toilets is an urgent demand. Combining materials at the site with prefabricated elements for composting toilets, water supply, waste filtration and energy, the resulting design solution could be implemented in three stages: a technical core of water filtration and composting devices, pre-fabricated units that provide appropriate ventilation, light and hygienic materials, and the combination of earthwork and sheltering structure that minimize site disruption. This organic approach incorporated rituals of bathing with cultural traditions, natural processes, concepts of wellness and environmental awareness, connecting users the rhythms of life and nature that have characterized Morven's landscape for centuries.

LAR 4230/5230: Cultural Landscapes
Ethan Carr and Scot French,
School of Architecture

Cultural geography, ethnography, public history, ecology, historic preservation, and other disciplines are all contributing to new ways of understanding the formation of landscapes. Cultural landscape research has become a central component of historic preservation in the United States and internationally. This seminar examines recent literature and case studies to answer basic questions about this field, with a special emphasis on the management and interpretation of all types of public landscapes, from historic sites to large scenic reservations. How and why are cultural landscapes defined, managed, and interpreted? And by whom and for what purposes?

Spring 2010
Ecosystem Services and Rural Landscapes

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Experimental Grounds
Four UVA faculty members offered three separate courses in the Spring of 2010 — in Architecture, Environmental Sciences, and History — that collaboratively investigated the contributions of ecosystem services, such as forests and carbon sequestration, to ecosystem stability and public health and developed solutions for preserving the benefits of these ecosystems services through appropriate land use, including development and forest management.

ENVSC 4559: Accelerating Landscape Succesion in Virginia Piedmont Forests.
Hank Shugart and Manuel Lerdau, Environmental Science
Studying land management practices that can accelerate natural succession of forests on landscapes in Albemarle County, Virginia, this class focused on ecological landscape dynamics and succession methods using the landscape surrounding Morven as a case study. Student projects contributed to a model-based ecosystem-oriented synthesis of the forest dynamics of the forests of Morven, in particular, and the Virginia Piedmont, in general. These projects provided a valuable quantitative assessment of a number of practical applications, particularly in understanding the dynamics of carbon under conditions of changes in management of environment. By synthesizing past ecological understanding of forest landscapes, this research explores the capability to accelerate ecological succession, promote biotic diversity and carbon sequestration in a local ecosystem.

ALAR 702/802, a graduate architecture design studio on adapting the built environment for sustainability
Bill Sherman, School of Architecture

The guiding intention of the 2010 Morven Studio was to develop a model for a research university in which the land not only provides the setting but also the subject for the research. At the core of the research mission for the site and the institution that inhabits it is the recognition that the future of human habitation and the health of the globe requires a new level of innovation in the understanding of and engagement with our inherited and constructed ecologies. The goal of the studio was to develop a collective vision for a place that operates across disciplinary boundaries, provide a setting for focused investigation and interaction, and a commitment to the exploration of new possibilities in the context of historical understanding. Above all, the intention is design a place with profound aesthetic and ecological connections between human constructs and the site, which inspire both critical reflection and unbounded speculation.

HIUS 4993, Morven Farm: The Rural Virginia Landscape as Social and Cultural History Site
Scot French, History, College of Arts and Sciences
Drawn from third- and fourth-year history majors with prior coursework in relevant fields (such as Virginia, Southern, African American, and U.S. Labor history), and based on the premise that Morven’s landscape provides a cultural service as a site of history and memory, the historical component of this class focused on scholarly debates, key concepts, and research methodologies at the local, regional, national, and international levels. Students received hands-on training in archival research, interpretation of evidence, and presentation of findings. Joined with the weekly collaborative ecosystem services sessions of lectures and presentations by scholars in various fields – history, landscape architecture, environmental sciences, anthropology, etc. – students worked on independent research projects highlighting aspects of sustainability: economics, equity, and the environment.

Spring 2009

Mapping Morven
Richard Price, School of Architecture
This seminar addressed the constraints and opportunities that shape how the land and buildings can be used in the future. To complete the task, the students undertook a detailed mapping of the property, to “render visible” the potential and limitations of the project. This exercise in turn helps the university to develop a framework that can be used to evaluate and shape proposals for its future use. The seminar took advantage of the extensive body of knowledge about Morven from the UVa Foundation and School of Architecture faculty members. The result of the seminar was a series of maps and other graphics that delineate the features and potential of the property, and that can continue to be used as the university shapes the future development of the property.