Josh Fowler here,
And for my final post I would simply like to comment on my experiences as a graduate architecture student. As well as possibly pass along some parting words of wisdom. As my many years in academia are swiftly coming to an end I would like to look back at all that I have learned. One subject in particular is that of where the field of architecture is headed and where it is now. While learning about codes and specifically ethics in the field of architecture, it seems to me that American architecture ethics have followed suit in the capitalistic corporate ethics. Meaning that is seems that more focus in the field of architecture is put on saving money rather than influencing culture and community. It seems as though we are often taught in architecture school to consider community and designing better places, but out of school, at least from my perspective, we become employed by firms and people who, in the effort to make more money, look for the large corporations and wealthiest developers and wealthiest people to fund the building of these "better places." But it would seem as though all they seem to care about as well is saving as much money as possible. There are most certainly exceptions to this, lying often in non-profit architecture firms as well as such organizations as Habitat for Humanity and Architecture for Humanity.
People have been asking me what I want to do when I graduate and my answer has always been " To find a job." And why is this my answer? Probably because with all the debt I have incurved going to school, I feel pressured into just find any kind of job to pay off my debts. I mean don’t get me wrong, I do want to become a registered architect, but what I want to do with that license may be a bit non-traditional. I would really like to help people, communities, and civilizations in developing countries and those who truly need help and the assistance of an architect. I suppose the notion of working for a firm whose clientele consist primarily of those with money and not necessarily those who truly need help, does not excite or encourage me at all. I would truly love to apply my skills and design knowledge to a means that helps more of everyone that a select few. I am still trying to figure it out and for right now I would still like to work in major and minor firms to confirm or rethink my attitude. I can only hope that I don’t fall prey to the greed of money and that I can obtain more of a sense of purpose with architecture.
This being said, I would like to leave with some parting words of wisdom in regards to my experiences as a, hopefully, graduating masters student:
Attempt to know yourself as a person:
Now this may seem a bit obvious and a little on the yoda-esk side, but it is entirely true. It is a difficult time during graduate school as one contemplates how exactly they may want to spend the rest of their life. So knowing yourself and being honest with yourself will hopefully allow you to make decision to lead to a more fulfilled life. That being said your opinions and attitudes are always changing and in no way shape or form do you have to decide right now who you are and what you stand for, but start to think about what some of your attitudes are in life, and of course architecture or any other related field. This can also be helpful in searching for jobs and writing your resume. It will convey to others as well as yourself what your values and ideals are and help you find the right type of job for you.
Think about your thesis… yesterday:
If you function anything like me, then you need all of the time in the world to research and discover a little bit about everything regarding a subject matter. I knew what I wanted to research in regards to my thesis and figured I had a lot of time to finally decide. The truth is, if you are attending SIUC's graduate architecture program you should know exactly what you want to do by the end of the first semester in the summer. This will help when you have to begin writing your thesis during the following fall semester.
If you have an obscure thesis topic, be prepared for a little resistance / difficulty:
If you opt for the more traditional thesis, one where you are actually researching and theorizing new, well, new-ish, ideas be prepared to either meet some resistance with your committee members, be on your own because your committee members don’t have much knowledge in the subject matter, and/or constantly fear whether your thesis is up to par with other university research/ thesis. I feel as though I have chosen a topic in which I have a great deal of interest and some knowledge in, however because most of my committee is not too familiar with the subject matter I feel as though I am on my own and being met with resistance. My advice would be to understand the entire faculty's background in architecture and or your thesis and relate your interest toward a subject where there will be substantial support. In any case however, you are the one in charge of your thesis not them.
These topics are three of the main topics I have been pondering during my graduate career here at SIUC and I just wanted to voice my experience and knowledge of these topics as well as to say a final farewell to all and have a wonderful life and good luck in all of your endeavors.