Design Fundamentals, Design Research & Design Ethics

Pedagogy is reductively understood as the methods of teaching employed in lectures, seminars and studios to impart knowledge and skills to students. In the School of Architecture, we take the term to mean the broader context within which learning takes place. This includes not only the methods of teaching but also the physical, political, social, and cultural context within which it occurs. We take direction from John Dewey’s understanding of pedagogy as a vehicle for student self-realization. We are also guided by the work of critical pedagogy— Paulo Freire, Edward Said, and bell hooks— that education, research and creative practice is always in dialogue with society’s evolving concerns and must critically examine its prevailing paradigms.

We situate our pedagogy to address three imminent challenges facing society:

  • Climate change and its impending environmental and social problems and how architecture can support living in the Anthropocene;

  • Artificial intelligence and the development of smart buildings and cities and how architecture can support human agency and living in a posthuman society;

  • Social justice and the need for greater equity and inclusion of race, gender, and intersectionality in our politics and communities and how architecture can support cultural and social diversity.

To prepare our students to address these three challenges of climate change, artificial intelligence, and social justice, the school is developing three separate but interrelated pedagogies in Design Fundamentals, Design Research, and Design Ethics. Our goal is to continue to develop these pedagogies informed by the global context and to foster an ongoing dialogue within the school across our public programs, coursework, and collective thinking.

Design Research

The Design Research pedagogy focuses on developing new knowledge and innovation in architectural design. It embraces interdisciplinary, industry, and community engaged approaches to develop better design practices and new technologies.

Design Fundamentals

The Design Fundamentals pedagogy articulates an expansive approach to teaching core architectural competencies. It builds on learning through drawing and making (hand and digital), supported by computational, building science, and ecological thinking. It embraces Indigenous and global historical models that demonstrate care and responsibility for the environment.

Design Ethics

The Design Ethics pedagogy addresses the role architecture can play in creating more equitable, inclusive, and just communities at every scale. It promotes democratic approaches to design and recognizes the agency of humans and nonhumans in the sustainability of our built environment. It also takes a critical approach to design education that has been exclusionary and instead aspires to bell hooks’ formulation of education as a “practice of freedom.”

Pedagogies 2020

Our Pedagogies emerged from a strategic planning process, titled Pedagogies 2020, which reviewed the school’s mission, values, and programs and developed an actionable vision to address some of the significant challenges facing architecture and the built environment in the 21st century. 

To address these challenges, Pedagogies 2020 was divided into three unique but interrelated pedagogies: Fundamentals, Design Research, and Race & Inclusion. Each was tasked with using the Fall 2020 semester for “stocktaking” to engage faculty, staff, and students in conversations and information gathering. In Spring 2021, we translated these efforts into actionable items that better aligned our mission, programs, personnel, facilities, and resources to address the global and institutional challenges we had laid out for ourselves.

Read more about Pedagogies 2020



Professor & Head

Associate Studio Professor & Associate Head for Design Fundamentals

Assistant Professor, DEI Director & DDes Track Chair

Associate Professor & Associate Head for Design Research

Associate Professor & Associate Head for Design Ethics