Teaching and Learning Culture Policy

Iowa State University Department of Architecture: Administration, Faculty, and Students

Architecture is a profession, a calling, and an art. It requires dedication, discipline, and hard work. Studios at Iowa State are the spaces that will shape and influence the next generation of architects and citizens. The culture of our studios should reflect the values, ideals, and ethics that we believe are vital to the discipline and to the communities that it serves. Studios should be places of respect, achievement, and collaboration where students come to understand their roles as participants in, and as shapers of, a broad physical, social, and environmental future.

Architects have responsibilities to their clients, to the public, to the future, and to history. Architecture affects people in real, meaningful ways, and it is incumbent upon architects to recognize and respond to a broad range of diverse concerns and interests.

Architects are also individual people, pursuing fulfilling lives as well as fulfilling careers. Architects are at their best when they are broadly educated, with wide interests and a clear understanding of the range of knowledge, interests, values, and traditions surrounding them and their work.

Architectural students should understand the challenges of their chosen discipline and should acquire the depth of experience available in an academic setting. They should leave with a grounding in the complexities of the path ahead, with a strong sense of what they can accomplish through dedication and hard work as individuals, as collaborators, and as citizens, with a broad education and with strong social and cultural connections.

Architectural classrooms and studios should offer rigorous, supportive, and inclusive learning environments, in which students become active participants in their own learning. A place where they are encouraged to expand their skill and knowledge toward myriad challenges and, through a combination of an effective learning environment and their own dedication, discover their potential for accomplishment. The classroom is a place of creative engagement and authentic learning experiences, and an environment where students not only learn from one another, but also form lifelong friendships and relationships.

We are committed to creating an inclusive learning environment – a community that supports the free exchange of diverse ideas. Therefore, we will work to promote awareness and exchange of these ideas in constructive and educational ways while engaging in honest discussions and disagreements. We are committed to a culture of exchange, with respect for one another and our diverse experiences, backgrounds, and aspirations.

As a faculty, we are committed to making our college a lively place where learning occurs through a variety of means – via engagement, by doing, through participation, and prompted by curiosity. While we do not believe students should fear or shun hard work, we do believe that design course work must be seen in balance with other important life experiences. Learning should be seen as an extension of our lives and the communities we inhabit, and not as a separate endeavor.

The studio and labs, in particular, are places where knowledge can be synthesized into creative, deeply important work. This is an experience that not all disciplines have, and it is fundamental to the formation of a competent, responsive architectural mind. We acknowledge our responsibility to support this learning in the context of our students’ overall education, in the context of their social development, and in the context of their self-realization.

We also expect our students to share in this responsibility for their own development.

Toward these ends, we commit to the following:

That our Pedagogy:

  • Offer students challenging projects driven by authentic and important questions that demand sustained inquiry through design.
  • Share agency with the voices and choices of students to help navigate this work.
  • Integrate regular moments of reflective and formative assessments into the learning environment.
  • Progress from exposure, to capacity building, and ultimately to responsibility and synthesis.

That the Faculty:

  • Provide constructive, supportive critiques centered on student learning.
  • Respect the diverse backgrounds of our colleagues and our students.
  • Respect the limited financial resources that students often have.
  • Encourage, through individual and group interactions, extra-curricular events, and leadership, a climate of mutual support and respect.
  • Recognize and support the broad intellectual and social contexts in which studio occurs, while recognizing student involvement and leadership in university-wide activities.
  • Support and challenge students in ways that promote growth, responsibility, and self- discipline.
  • Provide mechanisms, such as timely schedules, that encourage healthy time-management.
  • Promote and strengthen key traditions that connect across generations, backgrounds, and interests.
  • Foster collaboration between disciplines, particularly the richness of disciplinary expertise within our college.
  • Encourage communication and a shared sense of mission and values amongst students, faculty, and administration.
  • Foster opportunities to learn from, and engage with, the communities that surround us – including both the College of Design community as well as the broader region that surrounds us.

That the Students: 

  • Recognize the responsibilities of practicing architects and the dedication and hard work this entails.
  • Acknowledge the role of studio courses in building and reinforcing this sense of dedication and/or professionalism.
  • Understand their role in maintaining a healthy, secure physical and social studio environment.
  • Accept responsibility for managing their time appropriately.
  • Recognize that the studio is a place of learning, as well as teaching, and that they, through their actions and attention, are primarily responsible for their studio outcomes.
  • Respect the experience, dedication, accomplishments, and knowledge of the faculty, and the traditions of the profession and the department.
  • Recognize that students represent a wide range of diversity in many ways and appreciate these differences and treat each other with respect.
  • Build on Iowa State’s background for design excellence.
  • Participate in a structure that encourages communication and a shared sense of mission and values amongst students, faculty, and administration.

That the Department: 

  • Encourage frank, constructive debate and discussion.
  • Provide a structure that encourages communication and a shared sense of mission and values amongst students, faculty, and administration.
  • Support healthy, secure studio environments, both physical and intellectual, through proper attention to facilities, security, and to teaching effectiveness.
  • Maintain safe, secure learning environments, free from harassment and discrimination, in other learning contexts – including those stewarded by outside guests, lecturers, or other visitors to our college.
  • Recognize and value the rich differences that diversity can provide the academic situation, the profession, and the larger society.
  • Provide mechanisms such as grade reviews that ensure students and faculty are treated fairly, and can seek redress without intimidation.
  • Represent the needs and aspirations of the students and faculty to the larger university and communicate the unique achievements and challenges of our curriculum and the studio structure.
  • Serve as a conduit to other resources in the university and assist in providing access to state-of-the art technology, software, and physical tools.
  • Reinforce the mission of the professional program to educate future architects and recognize that rigor can assist our graduates in their diverse futures.
  • Review this statement and associated policy with students and faculty regularly and adopt appropriate measures to ensure that the values we profess are supported and practiced.

Conduct and Redress

Both students and faculty have fundamental responsibilities with respect to conduct that provides a context for Studio Culture. The encompassing Iowa State community has several specific policies in place regarding conduct and grievance processes. The following links include important content regarding governing policies and procedures that may be of interest.

Student Conduct: General Site for Student Life: http://policy.iastate.edu/policy/student-life. This site includes many policies regarding student life, categorized so as to highlight:

  • Conduct & Ethics
  • Equal Opportunity & Diversity
  • Privacy
  • General Student Policies

Faculty Conduct:

Grievances should be addressed using the following resources:

Students who believe there has been academic or other forms of misconduct by faculty and/or fellow students should bring their concerns to Student Services advisors, the Multi-Cultural Liaison Officer, associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Department Undergraduate Program Coordinator or Director of Graduate Education, Department Chair or Dean of Students Office. Confidentiality beyond those persons directly involved in a grievance will be maintained. As each situation is likely to be unique, recommendations regarding next steps toward resolution of the specific case will be proposed.