Bringing "Active Learning" Modules into Design Education: A Manifesto for a Socially Engaged Architecture

By Ramsey Awad, Justine Chambers and Julie Jupp.

Published by The International Journal of Diversity in Education

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: May 9, 2014 $US5.00

In post-disaster settings and in countries undergoing economic transition, architects have largely been disassociated from social development and the wider concerns of reconstruction. In these situations, equity and diversity concerns have been too frequently overshadowed by private sector interests. Researchers of architecture and architecture education have noted these failings and have called for architects to engage more strongly with epistemological and ethical questions in education and practice. This paper argues for the inclusion of "active learning" modules within the architecture discipline, which integrate the technical and practical education of undergraduate students in post-disaster risk management and reconstruction. The growth of university-community service-based learning modules that link architecture schools with NGOs in post-disaster and development settings offer educational opportunities that can equip young architects with the skills they need to operate as global citizens. This paper provides practical recommendations for a more socially engaged architecture, placing the emphasis on architects as future mediators and educators. It offers an effective means of rethinking architectural practice and education, challenging the master narrative of architecture, and raising important questions about the relevance of architectural design in a development context.

Keywords: Curriculum and Pedagogy, Social Justice, Social Development, Engaged Architecture, Social Citizenship, Active Learning

The International Journal of Diversity in Education, Volume 13, Issue 3, May 2014, pp.55-64. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: May 9, 2014 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 301.299KB)).

Ramsey Awad

Senior Lecturer, The School of Architecture & Built Environment, The University of Newcastle, Newcastle, NSW, Australia

Ramsey is currently a Senior Lecturer in the School of Architecture and Built Environment at The University of Newcastle. As part of this role he has recently established, in partnership with an NGO, a Study Elective for architecture students to participate on disaster relief projects in the Australiasian region. In 2007 he was Executive Director with Ernst & Young’s Government Advisory Practice delivering advisory projects specialising in government, health and major infrastructure. Prior to this he held several Senior Executive positions within the NSW Government. His formal qualifications and training include a Bachelor of Architecture (Hons), Bachelor of Science(Arch), Bachelor of Construction Management; certificates in executive education from both The Harvard University Business School and The Cambridge University Business School; and a Contractors License (Building).

Justine Chambers

Masters Student, Social Development, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Justine researches communities and cultures at the margins in India and Southeast Asia. Her work focuses on developing more effective policies and training for students and NGOs seeking to engage with vulnerable communities.

Dr. Julie Jupp

Associate Professor, School of the Built Environment, Faculty of Design, Architecture and Building, University of Technology, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Dr. Jupp has broad interests in design innovation, project management, and digital technology. Julie is currently Associate Professor at the School of the Built Environment, University of Technology Sydney. She holds a Doctorate of Philosophy, Architecture from the University of Sydney, and undertook part of her PhD at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) as an academic visitor to the prestigious Media Lab. Dr Jupp also holds a BA in Architecture (Deans Medal) and a BA in Sci. Architecture. Her research, teaching, and managerial experience, obtained in the construction industry over a 15 year period, provides a unique skill set spanning practical and theoretical work.