It’s too late for pessimism

How the Deep Adaptation Agenda is relevant for teaching in the spatial disciplines





Deep Adaptation Agenda, University teaching, Spatial practices, Climate crisis


The crises we face today call for a careful assessment of our collective and individual understandings and responses. The past decades have shown us that acknowledgement of the emergencies alone is not sufficient to address the problems, especially within the complex context and conditions of the built environment. In the face of ‘inevitable’ change, and of current and future challenges, this urges us to direct a critical glance towards how we understand and frame the problems as spatial practitioners, how we position ourselves towards them, and how our ethical and professional responsibilities and agencies must change. As an open question and a long-term endeavour, this echoes within the context of academia. However, a central position has yet to emerge. In this article, we give an account of our experiences by taking a closer look at the approaches, formats, and method we have employed at the Professorship of Urban Design at TU Munich and elaborate on how these concerns can be embedded in the content, systems, and structures of teaching, and how the Deep Adaptation Agenda plays a facilitating role in this ongoing attempt.

How to Cite

Zwangsleitner, D., Carnelli, E., Boucsein, B., & Fettahoglu-Özgen, E.-S. (2022). It’s too late for pessimism: How the Deep Adaptation Agenda is relevant for teaching in the spatial disciplines. SPOOL, 9(2), 57–64.




Ben-Yishai, S. (2020, November 12). Sivan Ben Yishai, what is postpandemic theater?

Brand, U., & Wissen, M. (2017). Imperiale Lebensweise: Zur Ausbeutung von Mensch und Natur im globalen Kapitalismus. Oekom Verlag.

Brand, U. (2009). Die multiple Krise. Dynamik und Zusammenhang der Krisendimensionen, Anforderungen an politische Institutionen und Chancen progressiver Politik. Heinrich Böll Stiftung, Berlin.

Awan, N., Schneider, T., & Till, J. (2011). Spatial agency: Other ways of doing architecture. Routledge.

Bendell, J. (2020). Deep adaptation: A map for navigating climate tragedy. IFLAS Occasional Paper, 2. (Original work published 2018.)

Bromwich, J. E. (2020, December 26). The Darkest Timeline. The New York Times.

Cuff, D. (1991). Architecture: The story of practice. MIT Press.

David, R. (2017, June 11). There’s a huge gap between the Paris climate change goals and reality—Vox. Vox.

Fezer, J. (2018). Parteiisches Design. In C. Rodatz & P. Smolarski (Eds.), Was ist Public Interest Design? (pp. 215–226). transcript Verlag.

Fisher, M. (2009). Capitalist realism: Is there no alternative? Zero Books.

Foer, J. S. (2019). We are the weather: Saving the planet begins at breakfast. Hamish Hamilton.

Ghosh, A. (2016). The great derangement: Climate change and the unthinkable. The University of Chicago Press.

Harriss, H., Hyde, R., & Marcaccio, R. (Eds.). (2021). Architects after Architecture: Alternative pathways for Practice. Routledge.

Laboratory for the Everyday City. (n.d.). Post-Acceleration Urban Development | A manifesto: April 2019. Retrieved December 6, 2021, from

Meadows, D. (1999). Leverage Points: Places to Intervene in a System. The Sustainability Institute.

Nicholas, T., Hall, G., & Schmidt, C. (2020, July 14). The faulty science, doomism, and flawed conclusions of Deep Adaptation. OpenDemocracy.

Nordgren, A. (2021). Pessimism and Optimism in the Debate on Climate Change: A Critical Analysis. Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics, 34(4), 22.

OECD. (2019). OECD Regional Outlook 2019: Leveraging Megatrends for Cities and Rural Areas. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Thrift, N. (1996). Spatial formations. Sage.

Till, J. (2009). Architecture depends. MIT Press

Tsjeng, Z. (2019, February 27). The Climate Change Paper So Depressing It’s Sending People to Therapy. Vice UK.

Vollmer, L., & Michel, B. (2020). Wohnen in der Klimakrise: Die Wohnungsfrage als ökologische Frage: Aufruf zur Debatte. suburban. zeitschrift für kritische stadtforschung, 8(1/2), 163–166.

Watson, R., McCarthy, J., Canzani, P., & Nakicenovic, N. (2019). The Truth Behind the Climate Pledges. FEU-US.

Watts, J., & Mann, M. E. (2021, February 27). Climatologist Michael E Mann: “Good people fall victim to doomism. I do too sometimes.” The Observer.