Sharon E. Sutton
Instructor-initiated and department-approved systematic study and offering of specialized subject matter. Topics vary and are announced in preceding quarter.
The overarching purpose of this seminar is to demonstrate that architects, past and present, have architects have exercised civic leadership in orchestrating the design process and affecting public policy. However because Architecture is both an art and the embodiment of a country’s social values at any moment in time. It involves negotiation between an artistic vision and the public’s notion of the ideas and ideals it wishes to express through architectural form. But who is included in “the public” has evolved over time, reflecting changing notions of democracy as a basic emancipatory thrust in society moves toward greater inclusiveness in the decision-making process. Thus, the story of how architects have forged common ground with the public throughout American history is an ever evolving one that requires careful consideration of the larger societal conditions.You will learn about five historical periods in relation to the architects who exemplified civic leadership during each of those periods.Then you will investigate contemporary situations in which an architect was able to build common ground within today’s complex social and spatial context.
Student learning goals
Gain a critical understanding of civic leadership in the field of architecture
Learn about architects’ role in society and how their built projects contribute to social change
Explore architects’ future as civic leaders, given today’s social and environmental challenges
General method of instruction
This seminar includes presentations by the instructor and active class discussion based upon weekly readings. Students conduct independent research to complete a short essay.
General knowledge of the field of architecture
Class assignments and grading
(1) Seminar Participation This seminar is a laboratory intended to encourage dialogue and debate about the nature of civic leadership in architecture. It requires weekly completion of reading assignments and discussions among peers (40 percent of the grade) that will help you successfully complete an essay (60 percent of the grade). A draft essay is due at midterm (when no reading assignment is due), and a refined version is due at the end of the term. The historical sessions will begin with a presentation of the social context for that week, based on optional readings. Then you will discuss the required readings, which focus on one or two architects who worked with in that context. The instructor will begin this portion of the session by posing one or two broad questions about the readings; students will respond round robin, hopefully making links between the social context presentation and what you have read about a particular architect. The contemporary session will be entirely in discussion format. Because of the interactive nature of the seminar, only one absence is permitted. (2) Required Reading Approximately fifty to sixty pages of non-technical readings are provided for each class. The readings about more established architects are more formal, but readings about the more recent or less well known architects include informal sources (websites, news articles, notes). The quality of your class participation will depend upon the degree to which they draw upon, and demonstrate familiarity with, the assigned readings during the discussions. All the readings are on reserve or e-reserve in the AUP Library. (3) Essay Early in the quarter, you should identify a social or environmental issue and begin a mini literature review of the issue, which can include formal and informal sources. The paper should be no more than 5-10 double-spaced pages, tersely written with substantial references (in-text or footnotes) in the following format. Please consider that your audience is not the professor but a general one—allied professionals in the design and construction industry, along withmembers of the general public who have an interest in architecture, design, and planning. Therefore, you should write in a straight-forward, compelling manner. Avoid using jargon, the past tense, “to be” verbs, and sentences that begin with “this,” “that,” or “there.” Do use the active tense, action verbs, and “I” (be sure to put yourself in the picture as an aspiring civic leader).
Class participation (only one absence is permitted) and timely completion of assignments are necessary to your individual success, and the success of the seminar. You will receive a in-progress grade at midterm for class participation and the draft essay, which will be on a scale of 1 to 5, with 3 indicating average performance, 5 indicating clear strength, and 1 indicating clear weakness. Criteria for Evaluating Class Participation (40 Percent) 1. Engagement with the Readings. Do you use specific information from the readings to contribute to the class discussion? Do your comments offer a critical perspective on the readings? Can you connect the readings to other knowledge and experiences that you may have? 2. Engagement with Your Peers. Do you build on, or react to, your peers comments in a constructive manner? Are you an active participant in defining what is civic leadership? Are you an active listener as well as an active speaker? 3. Engage with the Seminar. Are you present, on time, and prepared? Criteria for Evaluating the Essay (60 Percent) 1. Quality of the Argument. Have you selected a compelling issue and presented it clearly? Does your analysis represent a believable understanding of the nature of civic leadership in architecture? Would a reader who is unfamiliar with this class, its readings, or the issue find the piece interesting? 2. Use of Supporting Material. Have you drawn upon materials from the assigned readings, from other published sources, and from personal experience? 3. Quality of the Writing. Have you avoided jargon and presented your idea in an active, accessible style. Have you used appropriate grammar and present ideas in a logical sequence. Have you used citations correctly? Would a reader who is unfamiliar with this class, its readings, or the topic understand the essay?