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The Master of Science in Design Theory and Pedagogy is a one-year, three-semester program that addresses the growing ambiguity between practice and academia and prepares students for a new kind of hybrid career that has emerged in architecture: the architect-theorist-educator.

Constructing a New Apparatus for Design Education

Designed to be a platform from which a new generation of academic architects can evolve, the Design Theory and Pedagogy program at SCI-Arc examines the history of architectural education, its current pedagogies, and encourages the development of unconventional design research that uncompromisingly expand the scope of traditional programs of advanced architectural scholarship to construct a new apparatus for the production of design theory.

Students in the Design Theory and Pedagogy program experiment with new forms of architectural scholarship, receive hands-on teaching experience within the remarkable studio culture of SCI-Arc, and develop an intellectual framework that can sustain a life-long theoretical project in architecture. Throughout the program, Design Theory and Pedagogy students are given substantial opportunities for acquiring practical teaching experiences combining writing, critical thinking, lecturing, and curriculum design that reconsider contemporary pedagogical practice.

Reconsidering Contemporary Architectural Pedagogy

The first two Design Theory and Pedagogy studios use SCI-Arc as a live-teaching laboratory, integrating students into the teaching practices of the school’s core curricula and the pedagogies of its advanced Vertical Studios as they develop syllabi and studio briefs. The concluding studio asks students to develop design projects following their Vertical Studio briefs from the spring semester.

Design Lab coursework in History + Theory builds a deep historical and theoretical understanding of design theory and pedagogy and challenges students to develop their own theoretical positions and strategies for conducting scholarly research in anticipation of building a career in academia.

Furthering research opportunities, the required Advanced Architectural Studies seminar sequence provides a forum for SCI-Arc EDGE students to discuss the theoretical problems that impact design and the contemporary world. Students form interdisciplinary teams to produce and execute a fully-developed research proposal. The sequence culminates in a postgraduate colloquium where resulting research projects are presented. Each semester, EDGE students are able to select an elective course from SCI-Arc curricula in Applied Studies, Visual Studies, History + Theory, or Liberal Arts.

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“We’re focused on building discourse. Students graduate from the Design Theory and Pedagogy program with an ability to perform their pedagogy through both design and theory. Each of our graduates has constructed a discourse in the context of the program that they bring into the world. This discourse shapes how we collectively reflect on the discipline and the practice of architecture. Therefore, the academic careers we create are not parallel careers in anticipation of practice; they are a form of practice.” — Marcelyn Gow, Coordinator

Design Pedagogy in Practice

Graduates of the Design Theory and Pedagogy program have gone on to hold faculty positions at SCI-Arc, UCLA, Cal Poly Pomona, California College of the Arts (CCA), Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), Städelschule, Kent State University, Pratt Institute, The Ohio State University, Universidad Iberoamericana, and New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT). Others have entered PhD programs to continue their pursuit of architectural scholarship.

The program requires attendance in the fall, spring, and summer terms.