Encounters in the field of architecture
Rebecca Williamson, Coordinator of the PhD Program in Architecture in the College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning at the University of Cincinnati, discussed the history of doctoral programs in architecture. She described the origins that underlie the variety of approaches among PhD programs in architecture today, making reference to and comparing those that focus on the history of architecture and build on the long-standing models of research in art history programs with others that ally more closely with social science or hard sciences.
At Cincinnati, the PhD in architecture must connect to the concerns of architectural practice and relate to contemporary architectural discourse. The study of history and theory, in this context, encounters contemporary problems, including those related to the environment, technology, and politics. The three-semester theory sequence begins with the earliest architectural texts and proceeds through the mainly Western treatise tradition, complemented by exposure to non-Western texts to reveal exchanges, parallels, and contrasts. Through these readings, the students gain a critical perspective to prepare for evolving institutional and professional conditions. There is not a predominant discourse in the school; instead, a diverse group of faculty and students define research topics to prepare for teaching and practice in a global context.