Liberal Arts courses at SCI-Arc are taught as an independent cultural exploration to disrupt conventional ways of thinking about architecture, space, and urbanism.
The Liberal Arts curriculum begins with an intensive series of courses in writing, curatorial studies, and contemporary race issues in American culture, as well as film, which connects students to the school's location in Los Angeles, the cinema capital of the world. Students continue on to gain a solid foundation in art history, augmenting their study of architectural history and theory elsewhere in the core curriculum.
Starting at the end of their second year, students begin a five-semester sequence of core seminar classes, pursuing a study of classic primary source texts from the present day back through ancient China, India, and Greece. Readings cover such fields as philosophy, prose literature, poetry, critical race theory, sociology, media studies, biology, religion, psychoanalysis, history, astronomy, physics, military strategy, mathematics, and postcolonial theory. It is a unique series of courses, unparalleled in architecture schools or elsewhere, designed to blend classical rigor with a refreshing gender balance and ethnic diversity.
The core curriculum is just the beginning of the Liberal Arts at SCI-Arc, which continues with a flexible selection of elective seminars taught by leading thinkers, writers, theorists, and practitioners in a wide range of fields, where graduate and undergraduate students meet and exchange ideas. It also includes an ongoing series of Masterclasses with international academic figures who lead engaging lectures and workshops each semester. Past masterclasses have been taught by such figures as art historian Michael Fried, literary theorist Sianne Ngai, photographer Victoria Sambunaris, and philosopher Slavoj Žižek.