WHERE IS CHANGE? All about the 2011 accreditation report – All students must read


9 responses to “WHERE IS CHANGE? All about the 2011 accreditation report – All students must read

  1. This is very well-done. Thanks for the effort, AASA. I really do think one of the most imperative issues, though not so ideological, is the computer crunch. We absolutely need more. This will become worse as the increasing enrollment moves up through later years.

    You mentioned the Waterloo gallery. U of T also has a very impressive gallery, easily accessible and beautiful. We don’t have too much space, and “Middle Earth” is not as public and welcoming to passers-by, but even a poster or two, of reprinted student work, would be rewarding and inspiring.

    I for one am very happy with my education thus far. Our school has a definite style about it, as does any. I would venture to say that we are quite “conceptual” and less practical (for lack of a better word.) But is it not the place of college (vocational schools) and internships to understand the real ins-and-outs of vapor retarders and AutoCAD? I am not posing a rhetorical question here – the whole idea of a “University Education” is changing right now, and the traditional role of University as a really theoretical and knowledge-based system is being challenged. (i.e. people wanting to be career-ready upon graduation) What are some other people’s thoughts on this?

    I hope to see more dedicated studio spaces for the non-design majors in future. What is the status of our expansion? Would love to hear any updates on that front.

    I think the involvement of the professors in presenting their research is a great initiative by AASA. Way to go.

    • I think that’s a good point Aidan, and I appreciate you bringing that up. My peers, we have to realize the function of which a university education is. While we reasonably are frustrated that jobs are quickly being given away to Architecture Technologists for their practical understanding of architectural applications – that is not why we are here. If the yield was to quickly get a job right off the bat – then vocational schools, colleges, the trades are far better to support this particular lifestyle choice. But there is a particular reason why technologists don’t get promoted into higher positions, because they are not formally exposed to more intellectual and creative pedagogical methodologies created to help conceptualize and practice that act of creative applications.

      So in support to Aidan’s comments – as frustrating as it is, is the most important push really so that we turn out education rather into a dry technical education? Or can we rather take advantage of the creative development to push ourselves forward in a generation that appreciates creative thinking applications far more than its techniques.

      I’d like to believe that my education isn’t leading me towards being a CAD-monkey. If this is what you’re going for, spending tens of thousands of dollars for a job-search, there are way better ways of getting you there much quicker for much less. Let’s appreciate our education for what it is – and push its strengths to its limits so that we can become designers and architects leading the 21st century.

      And to oddly counter-argue myself: that doesn’t mean I support the abandonment of digital technologies, but rather to have a deeper understanding of technology as a tool (rather than a lifestyle). We take extremes when it comes to digital technology as an either-or: either we are incredibly non-digital with our play in physical models and hand drawings, or we become controlled by the limitations of our digital tools (i.e. the incredibly non-poetic act of designing in AutoCAD, SketchUp, or Revit). What’s the mid-ground? How is the school teaching us to use digital technology creatively, conceptually, and most importantly – poetically? How can we learn to use digital technology as tools to learn from, rather than merely execute with? We cannot and should not demand digital technology as a mere “because my vocational training requires it” – but rather keep within the realms of the creative, poetic, and expressive education that our school is known for.

      I came to Carleton because of this – I’m not looking forward to a direction where we become more like Ryerson or Waterloo. Which leads back to Carleton’s need for a mission statement and active direction. Who are we? What distinguishes us? What are we doing to support this distinguishably, which is even more pressing as a need for the changes in the 21st century?

    • Good points Aidan. Journalist Mark Mercer recently wrote an interesting argument recently in the Citizen. See: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/university+education+everyone/5635691/story.html

      Seems the entire university system is under review… There is more to an education, in my view, than “job training” – that’s what an apprenticeship is for. Our school has done exceptionally well in developing young creative thinkers (with a very high job-placement rate). Our graduates have the most valuable of marketable tools – their creative minds and dedicated work ethic. This is what we aim to instil.

      But a school is responsible nonetheless for the “foundation” required of its students. We constantly discuss and adjust this within the limits of our resources and yes, we too must remain creative in the way we deliver our program.

  2. Thank you for sharing this document with the school and the student body. I would agree that it is very well put together. The accreditation report raises many of the concerns that I think the students have already been voicing among ourselves.

    I agree with Aidan, there are simply not enough digital resources available considering the direction of the field towards digital means of design and representation. The computer labs are always packed, and many students must design at home or on laptops in the studio in order to complete projects. I also believe there needs to be a much stronger emphasis on teaching design software and practical aspects of building design and construction.

    Although I love the conceptual groundwork that is laid in this program, I would venture to say that there is a need for a more pragmatic approach to design towards the upper years. The fact is, this is a professional program: as well as teaching the theory of architecture, it must therefore also provide the students with the necessary tools to be competitive in the professional field upon graduation. This is an area where we are lacking in the undergraduate program.

    There is also a seemingly sever lack of organization, as noted by the accreditation team, between professors and classes. Clearly presented initiatives are needed for students to gain a coherent and full education.

    Regarding spaces of the other streams, I hope they are given their own dedicated studios soon. I was under the impression that they would have spaces in the fifth floor this year. Will this space be available in the following semester?

    I have noticed many changes this year that leads me to believe the school is making an effort to solve the problems brought forward in the report. There is more of a focus in studio on technical design, and the profs in the pit lectures are bring research to the attention of the student body for the first time. I am hopeful that these changes can continue and begin to spread to other aspects of the school life and education.

  3. Thank you once again for this accreditation report. I completely agree with the commentator above me in regards to having a program that is more technically and digitally competent.

    To balance these new initiatives, I also believe that a formal writing course should be mandatory in the early years of our education (either in first or second year). Most reputable universities have it as a requirement for all of their undergraduate students because being able to write well and concisely facilitates coherent critical thought. This is not to say that critical thought is lacking in our faculty but that it does not have the type of academic rigor that is seen in other disciplines or in the excellent studio projects that we produce.

  4. Thank you AASA for your review of the Accreditation Report. I very much appreciate your in-depth analysis of the Review Committee’s comments.
    I have taken part in 4 Accreditations to date and can safely say that we performed very well. All past and current reports raise (and share) concerns identified in the visit. These are very helpful to the faculty in both reviewing and revising its programs but more importantly in applying pressure on our Deans and upper administration to help us (financially and otherwise) in the delivery of these programs. The CACB visit is not adversarial but intentionally cordial. Often, the findings in these reports can be used strategically by our Faculty Board in negotiations for funds, additional resources (faculty & staff) and facilities, etc.

    I would like to correct a few items:
    1. A 6 year accreditation is not automatic. Some schools get 3, 4, 5 or 6 years between reviews. One school (in Toronto) was on probation for 2 visits and only received 3-year accreditation each time (until they were able to satisfy the concerns). The fact that we were granted a 6-year accreditation (two in a row) means that the concerns, while valid, are not so severe to put us on a shorter term with acknowledgement that we can work towards positive changes.
    2. Significant changes were made since the last accreditation. We introduced the new majors in C&S and Urbanism, as well as the “comprehensive studios” in BAS-Design. Our first groups in C&S and Urb will graduate this year and we are now looking at their applications for the new M.Arch1 (7-term). We’re very excited about this transition. We have recently added one studio course in these 2 majors and hope to see some interaction between them and the BAS Design. (We also recognize that students in BAS Design would like to have access to some of the specialized studies in C&S, Urb. and we plan to accommodate this.) In addition, we’ve hired numerous new faculty to support specializations and added many new elective courses. All of this to say that we are still “in-transition” and we (as a faculty) recognize that our attention needs to remain on ALL undergraduate majors and their relationship to the Masters.
    3. The Visiting Team Report (VTR) follows the Architecture Program Report (APR) produced by the school. It is in the APR that you will find the Mission Statement, Program description and projections, etc. I’d be happy to make a copy available to you. In the APR we identified a number of concerns that were recognized by the visiting team. Things like: computers, exhibition spaces, physical spaces (and the move to the 5th floor), Student concerns (based on student surveys) etc. Appropriately, the visiting team re-iterated these concerns in their report as a sign of their support. We can now focus on these items as we work to make our program better and better.

    One last thing… As some of you know, it is when we witness the work of other schools (in CA and abroad) and recognize the differences, that we most appreciate our excellence. As we build, we must acknowledge that we are building from solid foundations.

    • Thanks Cazabon! I’d love for the APR to become publicly circulated, so students are aware what active efforts the faculty are. Perhaps we could turn this into an annual tradition – where an internal APR is released at an all-school meeting (at the director’s address?) and discussed openly with students.

      This would become a fantastic exercise for AASA as well – to generate a package on a yearly-basis, similar to the one being prepared as a response to the accreditation report, formally aggregating and voicing the concerns from the student body. To facilitate this, AASA could host student-body open-forums once per term.

      Together, this would maintain the “open town-hall” discussion that would support the growth of the community that we’re all part of. I imagine the organization would work in favour for negotiations of funds, resources, and facilities to the University as well.

      I’m appreciating the amount of dialogue happening as of lately, and look forward to all collectively developing our school into the best it can be (from both the student level, and faculty). Thank you everyone who has played an active role – if you haven’t yet, please post your comments and thoughts on the posters located outside 3rd year (along the street) and between 1st and 2nd (along the bridge). All comments will be considered into the student report that is being prepared by AASA for our all-school meeting with the faculty in December.

    • The Urbanism and C&S are perhaps released pre-maturely, as there are no studio spaces arranged for students in these streams. Thus, the sentiment of these streams being the lower class in contrast to the design stream is inevitable.

      From my observation last year, profs were having real trouble promoting these new streams, as they cannot cover up the unfortunate fact that the students in these streams will miss significant amounts of studio time.

      • The structure of the C&S and Urb majors was conceived with the intention that these would lead to the recently launched M.Arch 1 (7-term) with numerous advanced standing credits. This means that within 7 years of study (vs. 6 years for the BAS Design-M.Arch) students in these majors will have a recognized specialization as well as professional degree. This promises to be very competitive in the changing market of architectural practise and is hardly “lower class” in the greater picture.
        Recognizing that additional studio time would be beneficial (and desirable) to both majors, the programs have been modified to allow for 2 studios (each at 1.0 credits and called Urb. in Practise and Conservation in Practise). This will further allow for advanced standing in the M.Arch 1.
        Programs take years to develop and any change is not “retroactive” but rather goes through a one-year implementation and a two year “lag”; this is (sadly) a bureaucratic reality.
        Interestingly, other M.Arch programs (including U of T, Calgary, etc.) have replied positively to our new undergrad strategy and are looking forward to reviewing our BAS C&S and Urb applicants to their M.Arch.
        Further, the Undergraduate Review Panel (made up of Arch’l educators and practising architects) gave a glowing report on the restructuring of our undergraduate BAS with the addition of the new majors and predicted that Carleton’s strategy will be followed by many other schools as an avant-garde response to a changing profession.
        It is only in “general perception” that these programs are seen as ‘second class’ and perhaps this is what we need to address. In my conversation with students in these majors, the general sentiment is very positive and they have been very helpful in the shaping and revising of the programs’ structure and content. In my opinion, given the work and timeline necessary to develop programs, their launching was very timely. We will also see, at the time of the next Accreditation Visit and positive response to current concerns about the BAS to M.Arch sequence.

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