Flipping the Script: Foregrounding the Architecture Student
James Thompson, PhD
University of Washington, Seattle, USA
James Benedict Brown
De Montfort University, Leicester, UK
Charrette, the journal of the Association of Architectural Educators (AAE), first published in 2013, is now well established as a pioneering journal for academics, practitioners, and theorists engaged in design teaching practices and theoretical debates. For this issue (Volume 6, Issue 1), Charrette invites papers and essays that foreground the experiences and perspectives of architecture students.
Traditionally, educational theories have foregrounded teaching by focusing on aspects like pedagogy and curriculum from the position of the educator. Whereas learning has certainly been stated as a chief objective of education, the assumption has been that learning can be expected to occur if teachers are knowledgeable and passionate. Consider Donald Schön’s infamous portrayal of Petra as an (uncritical) architecture student who models the behavior of her tutor Quist. In the time since this publication, a paradigm shift within higher education has engendered theories of learning and practices that acknowledge the agency of students in the learning process. Education is frequently conceptualized as more than transactional but as a narrative of personal and social transformation. Despite the growth of scholarship in this area within professional fields like medicine and social work, educators in architecture have been relatively slow to adopt this perspective. In addition to our general lack of reflection on our teaching and learning practices, most of what still gets considered “research” on architectural education celebrates bloviating over empirics, product over process, and ostensibly educators over learners. Students typically appear much like clients do in accounts of architectural design projects—as recipients more than contributors, objects more than subjects. Yet change is evident. Parallel to new educational approaches in architecture programs around the world, scholars are beginning to take into account themes and methods appropriate for examining how students navigate architecture school and transition into the complex professional world. This issue seeks to exhibit and build on the momentum of this work while further fostering scholarship on architectural education that considers learners’ points of view.
This issue of Charrette seeks to foreground the student experience in architectural education—including themes of learning, student agency, and identity transformation. How can the perspectives of learners help inform and improve our teaching practices? What role do students themselves actually play—in operative, performative, or normative terms—in shaping architectural education? (How) has this changed over the past several decades? How do levels of student participation differ based on different cultural contexts within academia, and what effect does this have? What can we learn from case studies of student governance and models of self-education? How do architecture students sustain their identity and wellbeing while developing a sense of purpose and belonging? In what ways can the perspectives of traditionally underrepresented voices challenge dominant preconceptions of the (ideal) architecture student? What impact have attempts to expose architecture’s “hidden curriculum” had on design education? What are the most effective ways to elicit perspectives of architecture students given inherent power differentials and typical shortcomings of strategies like course evaluations? How can research be designed to position students as protagonists in the story of architectural education? Do the first-person accounts and concerns of students compel us to revise existing theories of architectural education?
Possible Topics for Articles
Based on the issue’s theme and the preceding questions, contributions are invited from teachers, mentors, and learners (past and present) that address one or more of the following:
- Becoming and being an Architecture Student; Becoming and being an Architect: Professionalization as Identity Transformation
- Student Agency, Participation, and Governance in Architectural Education
- Access, Diversity, and Gatekeeping in Architectural Education
- Approaches to Student-centred Teaching and Curricula in Architectural Education
- Novel Approaches to Research and Teaching Related to Learning and Learners
In their expression of interest, authors should clearly indicate which of the following formats they are submitting under:
- Conventional Essays 5,000 – 8,000 words (including all references and endnotes). Essays will explore a topic or topics on architectural education and connect to contemporary scholarship. Authors must demonstrate their intellectual and theoretical context, as well as their methodological approach, and have a clear conclusion.
- Personal Narratives 3,000 – 5,000 words (including all references and endnotes). Submissions to this section will substitute traditional “academic” data with descriptive and reflective content related to personal experiences of architectural education. Authors are welcome to submit their narrative work in written and/or graphic form.
Queries regarding the theme of this special issue should be directed to the Guest Editor, Dr. James Thompson email@example.com.
500 word expressions of interest should be submitted in the body email, containing author name(s), affiliations and contact details to firstname.lastname@example.org according to the timeline below. Selected authors will then be invited to submit a full paper for double blind peer review and editorial review.
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