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Studio Culture Policy

The studio experience is a time of intense individual and collective effort, resulting in much self-scrutiny. It consists of a pedagogy and language of expression that are radically different from conventional classroom settings. It requires a set of skills not always anticipated by beginning students, including time management, research, teamwork, and clarity of written and verbal presentation.

The design studio is a rich learning environment, a voyage of discovery and growth where discrete disciplines are synthesized in the design process. The Department of Architecture and Interior Design at Miami University emphasizes a studio atmosphere where students take the initiative in learning with instructors. A departmental focus on student/professor interaction is achieved through an appropriate student to instructor ratio. This fosters strong communication during designated studio hours but also allows for interaction throughout the academic week. Critique is encouraged from both faculty and fellow students to create the most helpful instances for learning.

In order to foster successful learning experiences among students and faculty alike, an atmosphere of respect, clear communication, and understanding is necessary. To establish these goals the studio experience should embrace the following four core principles: responsibility, academic awareness, personal exploration and growth, and community.

Responsibility

An accredited professional degree in architecture must operate according to a clear set of standards. It is assumed that students and their professors will attend studio regularly and on time; that any anticipated absences or delays be communicated in advance whenever possible; that the work environment be respectful in terms of noise level and cleanliness; that studio time be used for studio work; that posted materials relate to studio projects; and that spoken and written language is fully respectful of each individual’s integrity. Students shall receive a written syllabus for each studio setting forth a schedule, bibliography/resource list, explanation of grading criteria, and professor’s office hours and contact information. Work shall be completed on time and meet established presentation requirements. Reviews will be conducted in an atmosphere of civility.

Academic Awareness

The design studio plays a crucial role in student learning in architectural education. The expectations for studio will consume much of the student’s time, but it is necessary to emphasize the importance of other academic responsibilities and course requirements. Studio schedules should not interfere with other classroom obligations as much as possible. Therefore, studio reviews should be correlated with due dates in other courses to avoid the kind of congestion that leads students to cut classes or hand work in late. Studio faculty should schedule field trips and other special events during studio time. If the nature of the event requires a student to miss all or part of another class, the studio instructor should clear this with the other teacher so students are not placed in a difficult position.

Personal Exploration and Growth

The Department of Architecture and Interior Design encourages students to participate in leadership opportunities through both architectural and university-wide activities. By engaging in experiences inside and outside of the department, students are able to explore values and identity and to understand how these influence their personal perspectives creating opportunities for better design understanding.

Community

It is essential studio members work to create an atmosphere of community which strives for inclusivity by respecting gender, race, sexual orientation, and other aspects constitutive of people’s identities. The Department of Architecture and Interior Design encourages students and faculty alike to respect members of the respective majors and programs. Studio members prize shared efforts and mutual support in the task at hand. This entails meeting expectations for team projects, helping each other learn new skills, and sharing resources. At the same time, it means recognizing that we all have other concerns in our lives—family, job, health, etc.—and being understanding and supportive of this reality. A healthy balance between these two spheres will enhance student learning and the studio environment.

Workloads and due dates can be demanding but should not be unrealistic. While “all-nighters” may sometimes be unavoidable, the Department strives to create a culture that does not accept them as a given. It is essential, for example, that students get the amount of sleep they need to function safely and productively. Mostly it means establishing a culture of generosity that will help ensure that our time at Miami University is one within a positive atmosphere that produces collective success.