Remade In China

The global economic system has been producing social inequality, exploitation of cheap labor and incredible amount of waste. China and the United States are listed as the largest economies in the world, as well as the countries that generate most waste. While countries have been trying to deal with more than a billion ton of trash we produce annually, a Chinese woman has become the richest woman in the world when she saw an opportunity in buying trash, transforming it into something valuable and then selling it again as a new product.

Re-make: make (something) again or differently.
In this class students will investigate why China has ­become the world’s largest importer of waste. They will study local communities in China, how they manage their waste, and explore innovative ways to transform discarded materials or products around us into something new and precious in areas such as art, graphic and industrial design, architecture, fashion, textiles, etc,. Through research and development, students will learn how traditional techniques and new technologies among the sustainable design philosophy can be utilized as powerful tools for addressing social and environmental problems.


Our Collective Goals:

  • Create the NYU Shanghai Re-Maker Space
  • Covert trash into a something extraordinary
  • Get engaged with locals (communities + organizations)

Learning Objectives

  • Students will reflect on perceptions of value and preciousness
  • Students will improve social responsibility and citizenship skills.
  • Students will learn about ideation, research and development skills by experimenting and producing a range of samples, test pieces and models exploring materials, processes and ideas.
  • Students will learn to develop, articulate and express personal content, as well as ways to become self-directed and to sustain intellectual and creative growth.
  • Students will learn critical thinking through writing assignments, presentations, participation in class discussions and critique

Learning Outcomes

The following learning outcomes are anticipated upon completion of this course. Students will demonstrate:
Research and Development Skills
Class projects will require students to research various factors and search for deep data in order to complete assessments of sustainability impacts across natural, human, and financial capital areas. Additionally, students will make things and propose solutions as a result of their research and critical thinking.
Collaboration Skills
Most of the projects in this class will be team-based, requiring extensive interaction in accommodating various personality differences and managing the range of creative confidences. IMA is about collaboration and sharing, but this class will attempt to take it to a whole new level. We will think of ourselves as a design firm. Our goal is to become as knowledgeable as possible about our subject, and to come up with viable project ideas and prototypes that can be sustainable and fair business models generating a positive social impact for local communities. To get there, we’ll have to share the load. You will be expected to learn everything about plastic and plastic pollution, as well as to help your classmates learn. And you’ll be expected to provide constructive and critical feedback, to improve the overall quality of our work. Basically, you are going to have to talk and share.
Understanding: Sustainability
The readings, articles and videos will focus on all aspects of state-of-the-art understanding of sustainability. Students will constantly be required to assimilate the vocabulary of sustainability, as well as frameworks, and demonstrate both in their discussions and deliverables. Guest lectures will allow students the opportunity to interact with members of a Chinese community, as well as with sustainability professionals from a variety of backgrounds and with a variety of perspectives.
Creativity and Critical Thinking Skills
All of the projects in this class will require innovative and dynamic problem solving initiatives. Project outcomes must demonstrate confident approaches with relevant and thought provoking solutions. Students are critiqued on the originality and creativity of their proposed solutions.


Course Structure

Learning will take place through lectures; guest speakers; regular reading assignments; interactive discussions in the classroom and online; student presentations; project critiques; group projects; hands-on activities; and review and reinforcement of critical knowledge and skills. Consider everything an experiment*. As your interests emerge, we’ll work to put you in touch with people who can specifically help you think through your projects. As such, this syllabus will continue to evolve over the next seven weeks. Expect change. It’s coming.

* Rule 4 in John Cage’s “10 Rules For Students and Teachers”


Individual Online Journal

Students are required to maintain an online journal as well as acquiring materials necessary to complete a proposal, project and report / presentation.


Your grade will reflect your level of participation in class offline and online, as well as your work on group projects along these seven weeks.

Class Participation – 20%
Attendance, punctuality, discussion, preparation, familiarity with the readings, dedication and contribution to the team.

Individual Online Journal – 40%
Contribution, quality of the content, consistency, and completeness of a journal documenting thoughts, references, findings, experiments, failures, success and progress.

Research and Projects – 40%
During the next seven weeks, students will produce and present a large amount of research as well as hands-on work, building machines, making experiments and developing prototypes including a final prototype for production throughout the course that will be the result of their research. Students will be graded on the novel applications of their proposals, coherence between the research and their proposals, and the thought and work dedicated to develop them.

Attendance Policy

You are expected to attend all scheduled classes. Greater than two unexcused absences warrant a fail. Tardiness counts as 1/3rd of an unexcused absence. If you are unable to attend a class, notify me before that class. If you are ill and need to miss more than a week of classes, you must speak to the Health & Wellness Office in order to get an excused absence. I will not look at doctor’s notes, both for your health privacy reasons and because I cannot verify the authenticity or content of the notes. Please also note that classes begin at 16:45 sharp; unless I specifically indicate to the contrary, you may not use a mobile or laptop in class; and you may not make a personal recording of the class.

Submission of Late Work

Assignments are due at the date and time indicated in the syllabus. Missed assignments will be earn an F. Exceptions can be made only with the prior approval of the instructor.

The late penalty for the final paper/project is one third of a letter grade per day. So, an ‘A’ project that is one day late will be graded an ‘A−’, two days late a ‘B+’, three days late a ‘B’, etc.

Academic Integrity Policy

Students are expected to read and understand the university’s policy on academic integrity as laid out in the Undergraduate Bulletin. Plagiarism and cheating will be penalized. If you have any questions or doubts about plagiarism, please do not hesitate to come to my office hours.


Students with Disabilities

NYU is committed to providing equal educational opportunity and participation for students with disabilities. It is NYU Shanghai’s policy that no student with a qualified disability be excluded from participating in any NYU Shanghai program or activity, denied the benefits of any NYU Shanghai program or activity, or otherwise subjected to discrimination with regard to any NYU Shanghai program or activity.

The Henry and Lucy Moses Center for Students with Disabilities (CSD) in New York determines qualified disability status and assists students in obtaining appropriate accommodations and services. CSD operates according to an Independent Living Philosophy and strives in its policies and practices to empower each student to become as independent as possible. Their services are designed to encourage independence, backed by a strong system of supports.

Any student who needs a reasonable accommodation based on a qualified disability is required to register with the CSD for assistance. They should contact the Director of the Academic Resource Center, Cydney Delia ( for assistance in registering.

Tutoring and Writing Support

The Academic Resource Center (ARC) provides tutoring and support to students looking to reach their highest academic potential. Students can schedule a meeting, or drop by, for any of the following:

  • Individual and small-group tutoring in over 30 STEM and Business & Economics courses
  • Individual writing consultations at any stage of the writing process
  • Academic coaching in areas such as time management, reading & note-taking strategies, exam preparation, and goal setting
  • Workshops on writing, academic skills, and technologies
  • Group study and conversation circles

Students are also welcome to study on their own in the comfortable, supportive atmosphere of the ARC.

Library and Research Services

The Library is available to support your research needs. We have access to 14,000 print resources, 2,000 DVDs, and 1,000 databases (including over a million e-books, as well as streaming audio & video and image databases).  Librarians with expertise in fields such as Business, Economics, Humanities, Science (STEM), and Social Sciences are available in-person and online to help you with your research. Our services include:

  • One-to-one consultations to help you with your research projects
  • Reference Desk hours in the library for immediate help with finding & using resources
  • Workshops throughout the semester on research strategies, special databases, academic integrity, and using citation tools.

Visit the Library on the 4th floor, or go to to learn more.