Studio Culture Policy
Indiana University Miller M.Arch. Program
The Republic Building, Columbus, Indiana
According to section I.1.2. (“Learning Culture”) of the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB) Conditions for Accreditation,
- The program must demonstrate that it provides a positive and respectful learning environment that encourages optimism, respect, sharing, engagement, and innovation between and among the members of its faculty, student body, administration, and staff in all learning environments both traditional and non-traditional.
- The program must have adopted a written studio culture policy that also includes a plan for its implementation, including dissemination to all members of the learning community, regular evaluation, and continuous improvement or revision. In addition to the matters identified above, the plan must address the values of time management, general health and well-being, work- school-life balance, and professional conduct.
As a new program, the Miller M.Arch. program is faced with a number of opportunities. One of those is the opportunity to create a positive studio culture from scratch. It is also our responsibility to come up with a system for ensuring that this positive studio culture continues to thrive as well as adapt over time.
WORKING IN STUDIO
A unique part of architectural education and practice is the studio environment. The studio creates both a pedagogical and spatial framework for learning about and exploring design concepts and processes. Working in an open studio reinforces important traits that all architects will need to succeed in their careers, including:
- A collaborative and team-driven mindset
- An aptitude for healthy dialogue and critique
- Respect and care for the creative ideas and personal space of others
- Understanding and knowledge through iterative making
The Miller M.Arch Program is founded on a belief in creative excellence fostered by a rigorous exploration of ideas in art and architecture within the context of the design studio. As a result, the curriculum is built around the idea of two parallel studios. The first is rooted in visual studies and explores drawing, painting, and representing objects and spaces from observation. The other explores a full range of architectural problems and design briefs at multiple scales.
M.Arch. students are expected to work hard to earn their degree. Yet working hard should not be confused with the low-productivity, sleepless (“all-nighter”) lifestyle that, in the past, has too often been associated with architectural education. For their own sake and for the sake of their future careers, students must learn to budget their time wisely. This means that they must preemptively set aside time to complete different tasks. They must also begin completing these tasks long before they are due. By using time management strategies, students can ensure that they do not find themselves in a situation in which they are putting their heath, as well as the quality of their work, at risk. Such skills are essential to getting the most out of graduate school. They are equally useful when employed in a professional environment.
For more information on resources that Indiana University offers to help you with time management, visit https://ud.indiana.edu/faq/articles/time-management.html.
HEALTH AND WELL-BEING
If students, faculty, and staff do not take good care of their health, then they not only make it more difficult for themselves to fulfill their educational and professional duties, but they also make it more difficult for the Miller M.Arch. program as a whole to succeed. Conversely, by staying healthy, each member of the program strengthens the well-being of everyone else involved in it. The Miller M.Arch Program recognizes that each person has a unique physiological and mental make up and that health is a very intimate and personal matter. However, if a specific situation has the potential to impact classroom activities or the health and well-being of others, students should alert a faculty or staff member immediately.
Regular exercise of any kind is strongly encouraged. Consult with your doctor to discuss which exercise routine is most appropriate for you. Sometimes getting away from your desk to move around, even if only for a brief walk, can trigger fresh ideas about the design problem that you are working on. Educate yourself about the severe back-strain that is caused by sitting down for extended periods of time. Also, be proactive about avoiding carpal tunnel syndrome, which is often triggered by poor ergonomics in computer workstations.
Students, faculty, and staff should take advantage of their Indiana University health fee or health insurance benefits to perform regular medical check-ups. IU offers free annual health screenings to full-time faculty and staff employees eligible for IU medical plans. See https://healthy.iu.edu/health-screenings-assessments/screenings/index.html for more information. To learn more about the IU Health Center in Bloomington, which offers highly discounted routine check-ups to full-time students, visit https://healthcenter.indiana.edu.
Please consult the large array of health and wellness resources available to IU Bloomington affiliates: https://studentaffairs.indiana.edu/health-wellness/index.shtml.
Contrary to popular belief, being passionate about architecture (or any other creative field) while being highly proficient in it, should not entail sacrificing the rest of your life to its demands. It is just as important for you to cultivate strong, meaningful bonds with friends and family as it is for you to produce top-notch design work. One can certainly do both, even if it means that there may be moments when one side of your life temporarily takes precedence over another.
Engaging in a diverse set of interests, hobbies, and/or recreational activities outside of attaining an architectural education is strongly encouraged by the Miller M.Arch program. We recognize that no member of the program can or should spend all of their waking hours devoted to it. At the same time, we also expect the best from each student, faculty, staff, and visitor who participates in the program. Being strategic and balanced about about how you spend your time in each area of your life will make it easier for you to achieve your objectives in all of them.
Faculty and students have a responsibility to provide constructive criticism in studio as well as classroom environments. This compels us to be watchful about the language that we use to describe each other’s work. Rather than merely telling someone that we do not like their project, which is not a useful form of criticism, we should decipher exactly which aspects of the project need improvement and why. Moreover, it is difficult to identify which parts of a project need improvement without identifying which parts are successful.
For more information about constructive criticism, see https://iuhealth.org/news-hub/constructive-feedback-advice-for-giving-and-receiving .
Per Indiana University policies, discrimination of any kind will not be tolerated, either in studio or in any other campus environment. Discrimination can be described as bias incidents, which is to say events or comments that target an individual or group based on age, color, religion, disability, race, ethnicity, national origin, sex, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, marital status or veteran status. If you witness a bias incident, you should submit a report online (biasincident.indiana.edu) or call the IU Dean of Students Office (812-855-8187).
Like many professions, the architectural profession has unfortunately long turned a blind eye to the deep-rooted problem of sexual harassment. We can no longer ignore its prevalence or gravity. Sexual harassment of any kind, and in any setting, is completely inappropriate. Please consult the IU sexual misconduct policy, available online here: https://policies.iu.edu/policies/ua-03-sexual-misconduct/index.html
All members of our program—students, faculty, staff, and visitors—are expected to act professionally in all situations, no matter the location or time of day. We encourage students to consult the IU Code of Student Rights, Responsibilities, & Conduct: http://studentcode.iu.edu
DISSEMINATION OF THE STUDIO CULTURE POLICY
This policy will be posted to the Miller M.Arch. website for easy consultation by students, faculty, staff, and visitors. A PDF copy will also be uploaded to the Canvas website of every studio in the program, whether it be a Visual Arts studio or an Architecture studio.
REGULAR EVALUATION AND IMPROVEMENT OF THE STUDIO CULTURE POLICY
Miller M.Arch faculty and staff will meet with students regularly to discuss studio culture and how to continuously support a healthy and creative learning environment. This document will be periodically updated with new insights gleaned from these meetings.