Scholar-Citizen Initiative class to join small house movement

Tiny house in Portland, courtesy of

A 128 square-foot house, built on a 8 x 16 foot trailer.

The rising costs of buying and maintaining a typical American house - about 1,700-square feet - has created the small house movement that advocates living simply in small homes.

Radford University's department of Interior Design and Fashion (ID&F) is launching a three-semester course that will result in the design and production of a fully sustainable, off the grid "tiny house" prototype. The course, DSN400 - Think Through Make: an Interdisciplinary Approach, was recently approved as a Scholar-Citizen Initiative and registration is underway for Spring 2014. Fifteen students from various majors are being recruited to make the course "very interdisciplinary," said ID&F Chair Holly Cline.

"The course will capture the challenge of working across disciplines towards a common goal," said Nathan Bicak, assistant professor of design, who will teach the class. "It will be an opportunity for students to demonstrate the depth of their knowledge in a specific discipline while working together and learning from one another to increase the breadth of their knowledge across disciplines."

By Spring 2016, the class will actually produce a product based on the design that they develop. Bicak said the students will partner with community mentors to develop both the skills and design that will result in a fully functional, quality mobile home of between 100-400 square feet that is focused on simplified living.

"There is a general trend towards small-scale living that is sustainable economically, ecologically and socially," said Bicak. "The excitement is what a student-managed project that incorporates their research will uncover and create."

For more information, students interested in registering for the class can contact Bicak at

Nov 5, 2013