VISITING CRITICS BROADEN STUDENT
KNOWLEDGE OF THE CULTURES
The challenge for fifth-year architecture students is to design an arts center for a community none of them has visited, in a culture and climate vastly different from their collective experiences. As the students sketch and build small scale models of their ideas, Soo Chan, principal architect of SCDA Architects, Singapore, moves among drafting tables offering suggestions and answering questions.
The students are working in one of several Visiting Critics studios offered in the School of Architecture this academic year. Also running studios are Andrea Ponsi of Andrea Ponsi Design, Florence, Italy; and James Garrison of Garrison Siegal Architects, New York. The intensive eight-week program allows upper-division students to study with outstanding professionals from around the world without leaving campus.
The visiting critics, selected by Dean Bruce Abbey, represent a wide range of experience, backgrounds, and professional focus. Last semester, faculty members Brian Andrews and Timothy Swischuk also taught Visiting Critics studios.
Many students choose Chan's studio because it provides an opportunity to work on a design problem in Asia. "Asia is not discussed much during the course of our program," says fifth-year student Peter Kladias. "I thought the issues raised in this project would run parallel to things I would like to do with my senior thesis."
Chan asks students to design a building located in Singapore's museum district. Students use site maps and photos, and also have to understand climate and cultural conditions that affect design. "The students are encouraged to think differently about building enclosures, walls, and the way space is organized," Chan says.
This approach allows Nancy Cottone '99 to look at space in a new way. "The climate of Singapore is consistent year round," she says, "which means we have to incorporate into the design different types of screening from the sun and courtyards for light and ventilation. "
Jae Woo Chung '99 says the challenges have helped to improve his design capabilities and research strategies as well as broaden his knowledge of other cultures. "The problems we have to deal with are completely different from those found in other projects," he says.
And that's exactly the point of the program. "The practice of architecture is actually quite global and international," Chan says. "The Syracuse program is special because it has an international outlook. The Visiting Critics program offers students a different point of view and totally different approaches to design problems."
ALLPORT PROJECT PREPARES PSYCHOLOGY STUDENTS FOR TOMORROW'S CHALLENGES
It's an ambitious time for the psychology department. As the links between psychological and physical health push the field in new directions, faculty members and students are implementing the Allport Project, a multifaceted endeavor designed to stretch the boundaries of the psychology curriculum.
"The Allport Project is being developed to create a central focus for undergraduate education in psychology," says Professor Craig Ewart, department chair. "It is a pilot program to facilitate innovative problem solving and active research projects for undergraduate psychology majors."
One of the project's main objectives is to involve students in research projects early in their college careers. Students like Anthony Acquaviva '99 had opportunities to participate in research projects, but he says many of his classmates did not. "There are a lot of research ideas we would like to explore, and the Allport Project is a great way to make that happen," he says.
Ewart says the initiative will include a new model for advising undergraduates while offering ongoing assistance and resources to students working on research projects. The project is named in honor of Floyd Allport, a pioneer in the field of social psychology who spent nearly three decades as an SU faculty member.
A pilot group of 5 faculty members and 10 students launched the project last fall; it will gradually be implemented during the next two years. The goal is to help students develop and nurture what faculty members have identified as the distinguishing characteristics of an SU psychology graduate. "We needed a clear set of goals for our graduates," Ewart says. "We just have to bring together what already exists at Huntington Hall."
Since the project is viewed as an experiment, Ewart says, participants can explore a variety of approaches and see which ones might be worth developing on a wider scale.
"The Allport Project is based on recent discoveries about the psychology of creativity and innovation," Ewart says. "Students will learn to apply thought processes and work habits used by highly innovative people. With a faculty advisor, they will develop 'learning contracts' to demonstrate improvements in key thinking skills. These student-learning projects will take advantage of faculty research programs."
This spring the project was given a home in a renovated suite at Huntington Hall. While the program initially targets the department's top students, Ewart says many more undergraduate psychology students will eventually be involved. The project will also provide opportunities for collaboration among departments. "For different projects, it makes sense to couple different disciplines," says psychology professor Michael Carey.
Robert Jensen, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, predicts the project will have far-reaching benefits. "I hope it will become a focal point for the school," he says. "This is very important for the college and for SUto develop a program that links classroom knowledge with practical, hands-on research."