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Becoming cosmopolitan citizen-architects: A reflection on architectural education in a Nordic-Baltic perspective

Becoming cosmopolitan citizen-architects: A reflection on architectural education in a Nordic-Baltic perspective

Title: Becoming cosmopolitan citizen-architects: A reflection on architectural education in a Nordic-Baltic perspective
Author: Santanicchia, Massimo
Advisor: Ólafur Páll Jónsson
Date: 2022-10
Language: English
University/Institute: Háskóli Íslands
University of Iceland
School: Hugvísindasvið (HÍ)
Menntavísindasvið (HÍ)
School of Humanities (UI)
School of Education (UI)
Department: Íslensku- og menningardeild (HÍ)
Deild menntunar og margbreytileika (HÍ
Faculty of Icelandic and Comparative Cultural Studies (UI)
Faculty of Education and Diversity (UI)
ISBN: 978-9935-9700-0-8
Subject: Byggingarlist; Doktorsritgerðir; Architecture; Architectural Education; Cosmopolitanism; Citizenship; Schools of Architecture; Nordic Baltic
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11815/3539

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Becoming Cosmopolitan Citizen Architects: A Reflection on Architectural Education in a Nordic–Baltic Perspective This doctoral thesis contributes to the discussion of how architectural education can be advanced to respond better to the current climate and social emergencies. Architecture as a composite discipline is dedicated to the exploration and design of the relationship between humans and their environment. Architecture is in a key position to educate future practitioners to become capable of dealing with the current man-made crisis. Yet the pedagogical path to follow is uncertain. Even though many commentators praise architectural education’s intention to form skilled, socially engaged, and civic minded professionals, others accuse schools of architecture of producing politically distanced and apathetic individuals, professionals whose main concerns are devoted to geometrical exploration alone. This thesis does not bring a single solution to this broad area of discourse. Instead, it focuses on understanding and advocating for the contribution cosmopolitan citizenship education can bring to architectural education, to advance its societal role by educating architects who are better equipped to deal with grand challenges. UNESCO explains cosmopolitan citizenship education as the acquisition of the knowledge, skills, attitudes, values, and behaviours necessary to become active promoters of more peaceful, tolerant, inclusive, secure, and sustainable societies; its aim is also to form collaborative individuals who have a sense of belonging to the worldwide community of human and more-than-human beings. This type of education emphasises political, economic, social, and cultural inter¬dependency and interconnectedness that exist between the local, the national, and the global. It further emphasises the shared responsibilities that each individual carries as a distinct yet equal citizen of a shared and common world. This focus of this PhD research was not set a priori but is the result of my explorative journey into the practice of architectural education. This journey started with my sincere intention to become a better educator by providing comprehensive learning conditions for my students to develop both their personal interests and their societal agency. The journey involved qualitative mixed-method research that combined autoethnography and interviews with students and educators in architecture. It led to the formulation and activation of a theory explaining my main concern of making architectural education more socially relevant in a time when it is desperately needed. The journey began as an autoethnographic inquiry into my own architectural teaching practice as an educator who started his career in 2004. It uses two case studies of design studio courses, which I authored and supervised at the Iceland University of the Arts (IUA), to critically reflect on students’ intentions and their outcomes. These experiences highlighted the great capacity that students manifest to address and respond to issues of societal concern and use them as drivers of their design process. The journey then continued with the intention of learning from fellow educators and students in architecture at the Nordic Baltic Academy of Architecture (NBAA), thinking together about the societal value of architectural education. What emerged from these dialogues is the shared conviction to use architectural education as a project to develop not only the acquisition of knowledge and professional skills, but also to advance the attitudes, values, and behaviours necessary to respond to global challenges whilst creating conditions for students and educators to locally engage as active citizens in their com¬munities. This led me to investigate the fields of citizenship education, cosmopolitanism, global citizenship education, and critical pedagogy. Reflecting on the relationship between cosmopolitan citizenship education and architectural education guided me to explore how the first could further support the second; this became the central focus of the thesis. This reflection and exploration served as a theoretical framework to analyse and interpret the Nordic–Baltic voices and led me to build a grounded theory which I call Cosmopolitan Citizenship Architectural Education (CCAE). The purpose of this theory is to help students and educators cultivate a language and activate a pedagogy capable of advancing their positive societal agency. I noticed that despite the intentions expressed by the Nordic–Baltic interlocutors to use architectural education to produce citizen-architects aware of and engaged in local and global affairs, they lacked the confidence to fully embrace and include cosmopolitan citizenship education within architectural education. I believe this was a missed opportunity, so I used my research as an instrument to build a mandate for change, to raise questions to expand the meaning and scope of architectural education. To do this, I have presented the findings of this PhD in more than twenty conferences in the fields of education, design, planning, and architectural education and have published twenty articles. My intentions with this PhD are to: 1. identify and critically examine the strong relationship between the field of cosmopolitan citizenship and architectural education; 2. suggest how the first can help form a language and a pedagogy in architectural education capable of supporting students and their educators to further explore their societal roles; and 3. advance the societal relevance of architectural education. This research supports the conclusion that architectural education is a field of study not only receptive to the notion of cosmopolitan citizenship, but one that helps to activate it. As such, architectural education is of paramount importance not only for educating future designers of buildings but also to prepare students for active cosmopolitan citizenship. It is of the utmost importance to educate future architects who can contribute new perspectives and new stories of what architecture is and can do, architects who can enact new societal agencies necessary to face and respond to the present grand challenges and those yet to come.

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