The International Journal of the Constructed Environment offers an annual award for newly published research or thinking that has been recognized to be outstanding by members of the Constructed Environment Research Network.
Educators increasingly pursue inter- and transdisciplinary pedagogies to facilitate more holistic approaches to the design, use, and interpretation of built environments. Through the presentation of one particular example of such efforts—an introductory, mixed qualitative methods, undergraduate course—this article explores three pedagogical principles central to its integrated approach: pre-disciplinarity, experiential and place-based learning, and instructional scaffolding. The course cultivates awareness of overlapping transdisciplinary themes of contemporary relevance beyond its immediate context, incorporating traditional lectures, curated city walks, small group discussion sessions, and a series of written reflections. Following a brief description of the class’s content and its successful implementation, the article demonstrates how such courses can yield meaningful experiences that promote critical engagement with the city and desirable lifelong learning for future design professionals and others.
The process of writing and publishing our “A Pre-disciplinary Approach to Built Environments Education: Teaching Seattle on Foot” essay proved to be both a pleasant and inspiring process through which we came to better know ourselves, our city, our university students, and our own professional goals. Through exploring our own work in developing the introductory built environments course—the subject of the article—we learned a great deal about various pedagogical approaches to pre-disciplinary teaching, cultivated productive relationships with mentors, and identified successful teaching methods employable in difference contexts and classrooms. All of this has been our pleasure to share and through the process we have been happy to receive helpful feedback and thought-provoking responses. Since publishing the essay, the “Seattle on Foot” course has continued at the University of Washington, and the article remains an important tool used in the incorporation of new instructors and course content there. Just as we learned through the process of teaching and writing, we hope that others may build upon our work in the development of inspiring, meaningful teaching opportunities for the next generation of built environments professionals and scholars.
— James Thompson and Daniel E. Coslett
Caryn Brause, The International Journal of the Constructed Environment, Volume 7, Issue 1, 43–54