Studio Culture Policy
Expectations + Support
In 2000, the American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS) formed its first Studio Culture Task Force in an effort to critically examine the state of architectural education. In the years that followed, the task force released “The Redesign of Studio Culture” which led to a new condition of accreditation: studio culture. The 2014 Conditions of Accreditation state:
“The program must demonstrate that it provides a positive and respectful learning environment that encourages optimism, respect, sharing, engagement, and innovation between and among the members of its faculty, student body, administration, and staff in all learning environments, both traditional and nontraditional. The program must have adopted a written studio culture policy and a plan for its implementation, including dissemination to all members of the learning community, regular evaluation, and continuous improvement or revision. In addition, the plan must address the values of time management, general health and well-being, work-school-life balance, and professional conduct.”
The purpose of this document is to not only define the expectations of our studio and community, but to also ensure that all of its members can achieve our academic pursuits in a healthy and supportive environment.
Architecture, both the profession and our academic department, is a community. All architectural educators share a common interest in providing an education that prepares students for leadership roles in the architecture profession. All architecture students share the desire to have the best education possible. The culture and atmosphere within the studio play a vital role in the quality of architectural education. Our community of educators, scholars, students, and professionals brings us in frequent contact with others sharing similar interests. Such a shared culture does not, however, suggest conformity. The success of our educational community depends on the ability of everyone in it to speak freely, to take risks, to dissent from the majority opinion, and to seek new and untested ways of doing things. It is the intention of the Department of Architecture at Penn State to provide and promote an atmosphere that fosters respect and cooperation among the members of our community. A healthy studio culture cannot be created by the faculty alone. It requires the full participation of our students. The academic setting is structured to encourage different viewpoints, various methods of teaching and inquiry, and the dissemination of knowledge by traditional and nontraditional methods. Each member of an academic community is unique, having a variety of different experiences, educational and family backgrounds, as well as aspirations.
All members of the Stuckeman community are to respect one’s individual differences. The differences in our diverse community allow for us to enjoy a complex and enriching environment. This includes respect for others without discrimination to a group or individual’s race, religion, nationality, language, gender, sex, or sexual orientation. Harassment, discrimination, or intimidation of any kind will not be tolerated.
We also strongly encourage our community to respect the different ideas, philosophies, and methods of all our students, faculty, and staff. We strongly encourage our faculty to respect the ideas and individual goals of our students, understanding that a diversity of ideas and goals among the student body is a great asset. Individual actions that are disrespectful of others cannot be tolerated in our community. Freedom of expression must be carefully balanced with freedom from intimidation or ridicule.
We do not pretend the choices members of a community must make to productively coexist are easy ones. At times, the desire to express oneself and the need to treat the opinions of others respectfully may come in conflict. In these instances, the highest standards of ethical professional behavior must be our guides. We are going to have differences of opinion; in any community there will always be individuals whose company we do not enjoy. For the greater good of our community, it is necessary to refrain from publicly discussing individuals in a negative manner. It is also necessary to separate, as much as possible, disagreements over ideas from our opinions of the people with whom we disagree. This is equally true for faculty and students.
Disputes and Appeals
Feedback and criticism allow for all us to better ourselves, therefore should a specific problem arise in a course, students should first speak to the instructor who teaches it. Advisors may be of assistance in this process. If the result of these discussions is not satisfactory, students should then meet with the department head. Students should feel comfortable working with faculty and staff in solving concerns.
Respect for property, both individual and institutional, is fundamental to our studio culture. Students must always respect the products of their classmates’ work. As the designers of buildings and environments, it is also incumbent upon all of us to show respect for the facilities we occupy. Students are expected to be cognizant of the spaces we share. Each student’s and faculty’s supplies, materials, and space should be respected; treated well if borrowed, never stolen, and properly returned. Spaces for working, making models, printing, meeting, and laser cutting should be kept clean; scraps, food, drinks, and other trash will be discarded in the appropriate bins. If we do not respect the places in which we live and work, we set a poor example for those around us.
The AIAS believes in the importance of healthy and well-balanced lives. A healthy and well-balanced lifestyle is essential to success in the studio environment. It is important that everyone’s time be respected. Students have a right to expect that faculty will be on time and prepared to teach and will acknowledge and respect students’ nonstudio time commitments. Likewise, students have the responsibility to be in studio on time for class, prepared to work.
Students are expected to develop work schedules in order to manage their time and prevent overworking, and the quintessential ‘all-nighter.’ Students are also encouraged to pursue activities outside the classroom and become active members of the larger university community. Students should also manage their time such that they devote sufficient attention to these subject areas, as well as to recreational and cultural activities.
Faculty are expected to be mindful of students’ time to ensure that they can perform to the best of their abilities. These may include: setting deadlines in advance, making sure students are on track with expectations and production, and being mindful of other coursework or activities all contribute to a creative, constructive, and collaborative studio environment.
One should expect that the individuality of design takes time, practice, and effort to complete. One’s creativity is also established by their studio culture lifestyle and contribution. In order to be successful, one must be patient and ready to perform production.
Architectural education employs a variety of means to review the ideas and work of students, and these periods of assessment are an essential element of the culture of the studio. Reviews are both an opportunity to facilitate discussion of greater issues as well as an occasion to consider differing viewpoints and possibilities. For formal reviews, students and faculty are expected to arrive on time and stay engaged as active participants throughout the review process. In advance of the reviews, faculty are responsible for informing invited guests and reviewers about the project intentions and background, as well the expectation that the review will reflect the Department’s commitment to a culture of respect, engagement, and professionalism. Students are expected to be prepared to discuss their work, as well as to participate in the discussions of their peers’ work.
We expect everyone in the Department of Architecture to promote and enforce a safe, efficient place of work. The harassment of others has no place in our community. Harassment is not limited to overt actions, but also includes creating situations that interfere with another’s performance, or the fostering of an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment. Please be aware that the memorabilia, photographs, and posters you display on your desk and around your workspace may be offensive others. At the same time, members of any community must practice tolerance. Plagiarism in design is not tolerated. One must not copy or discredit a source for design projects.
For more information on conduct and academic integrity, see the University’s guidelines on academic integrity.
The Stuckeman community respects the choice of extracurricular activities outside of studio for students, faculty and staff, and administrators. It is encouraged to get involved with the larger Penn State community and its opportunities. We honor and recognize each other’s commitments and responsibilities outside of Stuckeman. The importance of academics and studio work should be balanced and time managed with personal obligations.
Please work together to promote a positive spirit of unity without conformity, of cooperation balanced with respect for individual expression. Although founded on an unshakable commitment to architectural excellence, our community of scholars is a living and breathing entity. Each member of our community contributes something to our studio and institutional culture. As people come and go, as ideas find favor and then fall out of fashion, our culture must adapt. With your help, we can continually reinvigorate our scholarly community of architects and would-be architects, creating an environment and a school of which all can be proud.
Published March 2019
Facilitated by the AIAS Penn State for the Stuckeman Community and endorsed by: Students, Faculty, Staff, and Administrators