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Join Parsons Badges: Urban Jam

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To The Teenagers of New York City:

New Yorkers are constantly learning. They can’t help it. Every day, the city changes just a little bit – a new building pops up, a favorite restaurant closes, a bus drives along a detoured route. The city evolves, and its residents adapt.

Wouldn’t it be great to get some recognition for all the things we learn just by living in a big city? We get grades for Algebra and English and earn a diploma for surviving high school. Why not get some credit for knowing how to live in the city? Why not get some respect for knowing how the city lives – how it works and how it evolves?

It takes some smarts to be a New Yorker, and it’s about time that counted for something.

Starting this fall, you can rack up some recognition for living and learning in the Big Apple. Join Urban Jam, a self-guided exploration of urban living and the environment in New York City developed by Parsons Badges, an initiative of Parsons The New School for Design. The Urban Jam experience lets you earn digital “badges” for successfully completing a series of explorations and hands-on projects out and about in the city. You’ll earn badges on your own time, completing as many – or as few – projects as you want.

By the time you’ve worked your way through the “badge stack,” you may have…

Drawn maps of your neighborhood;
Photographed the city from a floating balloon;
Interviewed community gardeners;
Toured inaccessible and hidden parts of the city;
Described a day without water in NYC;
Explored street art and graffiti in one of the city’s five boroughs;
Discovered overlooked historical artefacts right outside your door… and much more.

The Urban Jam experience focuses on exploring and understanding the history, ecology, and everyday workings of the city. You will watch videos, read web postings, tour museum exhibits and, most importantly go outside to rediscover New York. To earn badges, you will create photos, drawings, video clips, short essays, and diagrams that track your discoveries.

To sign up, fill out the Form at We’ll be in touch with instructions before the fall. In the meantime, feel free to visit Mozilla Foundation to find out what it means to learn with badges. You may also want to check out and to get to know the programs that support Urban Jam.

Come out and learn with us. New York still has a lot left to uncover.


Parsons GeoSpatial Lab
Urban Jam Team: Liz Barry, Philip Silva, Leif Percifield

Parsons Badges: Urban Jam

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Hive Digital Media Learning Fund Awards Grant to Parsons Badges for Youth Summer Program
The Parsons GeoSpatial Design Lab (SDS) and the Urban Programs (BS Urban Design / BA Urban Studies) at The New School, in partnership with Parsons SPACE and The New School Office of Admission, are pleased to announce that they have received a $7,000 HIVE Digital Media Learning Fund matching grant. The grant will support their collaborative proposal to develop and implement a Parsons Badges for Youth program this summer, May–October 2012.
Parsons Badges for Youth is a pilot program designed to help high school students navigate the increasingly informal and digital educational experiences that form our contemporary urban curriculum. Through location-specific projects, quests, and games, the program’s digital learning strategy features curricular themes that focus on place-based inquiry, engaging youth who lack a clear path into the exploration of creative technology and urban design. Students will learn to make sense of the information layers streaming through everyday urban environments, allowing them to benefit from their hours both online and outside. This approach plays off youths’ own “turf” expertise to draw attention to additional, unnoticed aspects of their everyday environment while introducing new attitudes, concepts, and skills.
Modeled as a hybrid after-school program / independent detective agency, this summer’s pilot will offer a series of summer workshops and fall after-school events hosted by Parsons, merging online interactions and in-person attendance. A key component of the project is its implementation of Mozilla’s OpenBadges platform, which was developed to give value to distributed and digital learning experiences that may not be recognized in traditional school contexts. Parsons Badges for Youth will use this emerging technology to award Parsons-curated badges to participating high school students in recognition of the experiences and skills they gain through the program.
Parsons Badges for Youth / Hive Digital Media Learning Fund
Parsons GeoSpatial Design Lab (Ed Keller [SDS] and Liz Barry, working with Leif Percifield [AMT] and Phil Silva [Lang])
The New School Urban Programs (BS Urban Design BS / BA Urban Studies: Victoria Marshall, Scott Salmon)
SPACE (Summer, Pre-college Academy, Continuing Education: Anne Gaines)
The New School Office of Admission (Chris Ferguson)
HIVE Network
About Hive Digital Media Learning Fund and Hive Learning Network NYC
In December 2010, The New York Community Trust joined with the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to create Hive Digital Media Learning Fund to promote adolescents’ learning anytime, anywhere through digital media. With additional contributions from the Joan Ganz Cooney Fund in The New York Community Trust, $1.525 million has been raised for grants this year. The Fund is governed by an advisory committee comprising representatives of its major donors, including the MacArthur Foundation’s director of education and Kerry McCarthy, arts program officer at The Trust and the commissioner of the City’s Department of Cultural Affairs. To foster collaboration and information sharing, all grantees become part of Hive Learning Network NYC, a project of the Mozilla Foundation.
For more information, visit and

Harvard Landscape Infrastructure Symposium

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Liz Barry will be presenting “Citizen Cartographies” during the Representing Infrastructure panel, Harvard Landscape Infrastructure Symposium, on Saturday March 24, 2012.