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The Liberal Arts curriculum at SCI-Arc reimagines the training of young architects by challenging them to develop critical thinking skills that best complement a design studio education.

lecture in keck hall

Masterclass Instructor Sianne Ngai

Heading titleThe Value of a Liberal Arts-Based Education

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 within the core concentrations of art, philosophy, science, and history. The curriculum then continues with a flexible selection of elective seminars taught by leading thinkers, writers, theorists, and practitioners in a wide range of fields and subjects, from media theory to gender studies to biophilic exploration.

Courses offered within Liberal Arts focus on topics such as the history and theory of art and film, contemporary science and technology, history of civilizations, rhetoric and debate, and philosophy. The curriculum also includes an ongoing series of Masterclasses with international academic figures who lead engaging lectures and workshops throughout the semester.

graham harman portrait grey background

"Architecture, like philosophy and the arts, is a form of cognition without being a form of knowledge. It responds to the allure of a real that is not knowable."

- Graham Harman, Liberal Arts Coordinator

Heading titleWhat the humanities offer architecture

Recognizing that architecture is a broadly humanistic endeavor, SCI-Arc’s B.Arch program asks students to explore how the discipline exists simultaneously as a form of knowledge, a set of built objects, and a unique discourse that continuously informs the work of contemporary architects.

Incorporating other humanities disciplines into a professional architecture program, SCI-Arc’s B.Arch challenges undergraduate students to engage with ethical questions surrounding architecture by emphasizing the analysis and exchange of ideas.

Ann Gutierrez

"SCI-Arc has allowed me to experience an architectural education that blends aspects of technology, philosophy, art, urbanism, and politics. It is this exposure to multiple disciplines that has made my view of architecture a much more dynamic and open one."

Ann Gutierrez B.Arch
Philosphy class taught by Graham Harman

Heading titleLed by Distinguished Philosopher Graham Harman

As the role of the architect is redefined in the twenty-first century, there is a growing emphasis on the development and communication of ideas, which are central to the study of philosophy.

Representative of an institution of higher learning which champions the deepening and expansion of the field, Graham Harman’s appointment as LIberal Arts Coordinator reflects a commitment to using advancements in the humanities to shape the way students think about architecture and the world.

Harman is Distinguished Professor of Philosophy and Liberal Arts Coordinator at SCI-Arc. He was included among the 50 Most Influential Living Philosophers* and his work in metaphysics led to the development of object-oriented ontology (OOO).

* according to Best Schools’ 2016 ranking

Heading titleContextualizing Architecture

SCI-Arc values the intellectual life and breadth of its students. Many Liberal Arts seminars are structured specifically to help students build confidence as they learn to formulate and effectively communicate ideas.

Beyond the classroom, Masterclasses, B.Arch Salons, public programs, and live forums provide students with a platform to develop the rhetorical skill sets through which they can articulate, strengthen, and defend individual positions within the contemporary architectural discourse.

Social Media vs. Architectural Discourse: A Conversation

Social Media vs. Architectural Discourse 2.0: The SCI-Arc Conversation Continues

Tom Wiscombe in conversation with Rick Carter, Production Designer for Avatar.

Heading titleMasterclasses

As part of its Liberal Arts curriculum, SCI-Arc offers one to two Masterclasses each semester. Taught by leading thinkers, theorists, and academics who are not architects or designers, Masterclasses bring students into direct contact with thinkers whose expertise provides an interdisciplinary perspective to their architectural studies.

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Molly Jong Fast, The Daily Beast and Tom Nicols, The Atlantic in conversation with Tom Wiscombe for Basecamp 2020

Heading titleSCI-Arc Cinema Series

In spring 2017, SCI-Arc introduced the Cinema Series as part of its liberal arts curriculum. The school hosted a lecture by Jan Harlan, Stanley Kubrick’s producer from 1975–1999, and a conversation between architect Craig Hodgetts and Syd Mead—the renowned science-fiction designer known for his work on Blade Runner, Tron, 2010, Aliens, and Blade Runner 2049.