Art History Develops New Degree Program in Architectural Studies

The School of Humanities and Sciences is proud to announce a new major in architectural studies, offered through the department of art history. Beginning this fall, the architectural studies B.A. program will provide the kind of preprofessional training that students who are interested in careers or master's-level study in architecture or design need to thrive. "The new major responds to student demand," explains Lauren O'Connell, chair and associate professor of art history. "Over the years we have seen a steady stream of students catch the architecture bug in our classrooms and then either transfer elsewhere to pursue design training or brace themselves for a lengthy master's program after graduation. It has long been a dream of ours to develop our course offerings in architecture into a full-fledged major that would serve students thinking of careers in design-related fields." That dream has now become a reality. "The new major has been years in the planning, and we're very excited to see it coming to fruition!" says Professor O'Connell.

Courses will be staffed by current art history faculty members O'Connell, Nancy Brcak, and Stephen Clancy, as well as Itohan Osayimwese, a newly hired assistant professor, who will be developing the department's brand new two-semester design studio sequence, and an array of new courses in world architectural history. As Osayimwese puts it, "The new architectural studies major will offer students the opportunity to study the built environment more comprehensively than was previously possible at IC. A holistic understanding of the built environment is more important than ever as we become more aware of the environmental and social impact of buildings."

To accomplish the goal of giving students a holistic understanding of architecture and its applications, the program will emphasize an interdisciplinary approach. Students will take classes in history, architectural design, urban design, urban studies, physics, mathematics, environmental studies, political science, sociology, and philosophy; in addition, they will be provided opportunities for experiential learning inside and outside the classroom. Osayimwese explains, "Simulating contemporary practice, architectural studies courses will integrate different modes of analysis including writing, reading, critical debate, field observation and archival research, 2D and 3D computer visualization, manual drafting, model-making, etc., into the study of the designed environment. With these tools at their fingertips, IC students will be better equipped to participate in creating a more responsible way of life."