On July 20th, the Georgia Tech College of Architecture (CoA) announced a new "strategic emphasis on interdisciplinarity." This effort centers on structural and curricular changes including eliminating the undergraduate degrees in architecture, building construction and industrial design. The current degrees will be replaced with a generically focused BS in design.
Dean Alan Balfour and Senior Associate Dean Doug Allen are leading the process. Associate Dean Sabir Khan is leading development of the new curriculum.
It is our belief that this combined degree will be detrimental to the college and the institute. Students will graduate without adequate skills or an appropriate credential to seek meaningful employment in their preferred discipline. Particularly with respect to industrial design and building construction, graduate education is not required, nor is it common when entering the field. The move to a generic BS in design will put Georgia Tech graduates at a distinct disadvantage to their peers from other universities.
CoA acknowledges this position by saying "This [curriculum] enables students to develop expertise in an area of interest as well as prepare themselves for their chosen field of graduate study. The curriculum is designed to enable students to receive a Masters in Architecture or Masters in Industrial Design degree in two additional years, or to receive an MS degree in Building Construction in one additional year." It is of note that the current undergraduate curriculum prepares students to receive these same advanced degrees in the same amount of time, while still having the option to enter their chosen profession after completing a bachelor's degree.
We believe the smaller programs in the College, industrial design (193 students) and building construction (320 students), will likely suffer the most with this new degree. It is inevitable that greater emphasis will be placed on architecture (582 students) than on the other disciplines in the combined curriculum, resulting in less focus and expertise in the areas of industrial design and building construction.
Evidence of this skewed emphasis is seen in the curriculum for the Common Freshman Year (CFY). Designed to provide incoming students with background in each of CoA's disciplines, the CFY has been taught predominately by architecture faculty, with a predictable focus on architecture. The CFY experience provides little confidence that the proposed BS in design will be much more than the current BS with a Major in Architecture.
We understand the economic pressures that face the College of Architecture. It is undeniable that the combined BS in design will lower the cost of delivering undergraduate education within the CoA. Further, we understand the impulse throughout all of higher education to push larger and larger numbers of people into graduate education. However, we believe the competitive costs to the Institute will be severe. If this plan is instituted, it would be a very difficult case to make to a prospective student that a generic BS in design from Georgia Tech is preferable to a BS in Building Construction from the University of Florida or a Bachelor of Industrial Design from Auburn. The former will be well qualified to apply to graduate school, while the latter will be welcomed by the professional world as well as having the option of continuing their education.
Please sign this petition in support of keeping the existing undergraduate degree programs in the CoA at Georgia Tech. Additionally, please reach out to all interested parties at Georgia Tech and the Board of Regents to express your concerns regarding these potential changes.
Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia
270 Washington Street, SW
Atlanta, GA 30334
ATTN: Erroll B. Davis, Jr.
Additional information can be found here: http://www.coa.gatech.edu/academics/cfy/index.php
We the undersigned appreciate your interest in evolving the curriculum for the undergraduate students in the College of Architecture in order to better prepare these students for the interdisciplinary collaboration required by business in the 21st century. However, we do not believe that a Bachelor of Science in Design will accomplish this goal.
It is our belief that this combined degree will be detrimental to the college and the institute. Students will graduate without adequate education, skills, or an appropriate credential to seek meaningful employment in their preferred discipline.
We ask that you abandon this approach and reinvest in the existing undergraduate programs, curriculum and faculty in order to insure that these programs become leading edge within their disciplines.
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