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Continuing the Discussion

Thank you to everyone who has participated in the discussion regarding language within our school.  I appreciate the range of opinions represented – and I hope that we will continue to challenge one another to re-think the way we present and represent our work.

Some question the need for such a discussion – but if we can’t practice our advocacy or test our beliefs here, then where?  This, more than anything else, convinces me of the need for continued discussion, dialogue and debate within the School.  We shouldn’t have to declare a “public forum”.  Our school should already be one.

How can we move forward?  I was reminded this week of our school’s “Studio Culture” document, which reads in part,

Behavior is neither set or directed by any single statement, organization, person, or set of rules, nor is it ungoverned. Undergraduates are admired for their voraciousness and risk-taking – an enthusiasm that is only dampened by their ability to make noise. Graduates are admired for their commitment, breadth of consideration, and focus. Personal property goes mostly unguarded; personal safety is closely watched. Intellectual content is, guarded as it might be, open to respectful and vigorous challenge by anyone at any time. Studio is a place of success and failure, but risk and failure are often rewarded over cautious but limited success. Studio is a place for both practicing the craft of design and negotiating the ever-evolving cultural definition of what “good design” is. Learning the necessary skill of criticism, both self and communal, happens through open discussion and argument that, though often inefficient, is meant to be constructive.

Lastly, as with any diverse group of individuals who come from and to some degree represent different cultures with different mores, studio is the primary place within the School where broader cultural issues are exposed, criticized, championed, and struggled with – be they economic, political, racial, or personal. Studio is a small society that is willingly though naively entered and from which everyone leaves more mature, knowledgeable, and, though often a little “dinged up”, changed for the better.

It is the work of any culture to nurture what it finds valuable while struggling constantly with the pressure to evolve. Ultimately studio culture is a culture of choice, and it is that act of choosing that is encouraged and thrived on. (download “STUDIO CULTURE” full text)

How might we adapt this statement to describe our School as a whole– graduate and undergraduate students in all departments, as well as faculty and staff?  How should this statement be updated to reflect who we are – our goals and beliefs – in 2011?

Please comment below on changes you would propose to this document.  Thank you again for your thoughtful participation.



3 thoughts on “Continuing the Discussion

  1. dont you have anything better to do during charette? get a life.

    Posted by currently rendering.... | April 25, 2011, 4:27 am
  2. I would also like to take a minute to thank everyone for participating in this Public Forum. We hope that people may begin to feel more comfortable initiating these types of conversations in the future.

    For those of you who kept taking down our posters – please remember the First Amendment to the US Constitution. We find it troubling that you are not even willing to discuss something as simple as what a word may mean to different people. We don’t ask that you agree with us. There were respectfully given alternative viewpoints. We simply ask that you consider the effect that a word’s meanings can have on different people.

    I believe that one of UVa SoA School Culture’s strongest assets is their willingness to discuss ethics as part of design. What do buildings mean? While they may not be enough to solve social issues, they do constitute the stage set of human cultures. Will you work to undermine human culture or to ameliorate the best of it?

    Posted by sjlarch | April 25, 2011, 9:35 pm
  3. I was quite disheartened by some students’ responses, particularly their immediate urge to disparage and undermine one’s right to voice an opinion. I think perhaps we should nurture a dialogue in which there are two main challengers, such as is done in The Economist. That could, perhaps, be an interesting platform for future debate. . .


    Posted by Sarah B | April 25, 2011, 11:40 pm

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