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Conference on Education and Training in Sustainable Built Environment Mumbai, October 4-5, 2005. Cross-border Collaborations in Architectural Education A G Krishna Menon.
Cross-border Collaborations in Architectural EducationA G Krishna Menon
i. Education and Training are neglected areas of reform. Even as more institutions are created - in 2004 we had 114 Schools of Architecture in the country and 26,240 registered architects - the curriculum and pedagogy in these Schools remains antidiluvian. There is reform in governance, IT sector, industry and agriculture, but not architectural education.ii. Each School is expected to conform to a prescribed curriculum which had its genesis in colonial times. Even the introduction of computers has only reinforced the prevailing education intent.
A. In our globalising world, what are the prospects for cross-border academic collaborations ?B. Who benefits and what are the benefits from such collaborations ?C. What are the options for promoting equitable international academic collaborations ?D. And finally, I will offer some Inferences and Conclusions.
We can examine this question in two parts : a. The de jure situation: WTO agreement on Services and AICTE/ CoA policies, etc. b. The de facto conditions : the prevailing practice
i. From January 1, 2005 the WTO agreement on cross- border trade in Services - including educational services became operational, but negotiations between governments on its terms are still being worked out.ii. The debate in professional fora have centered around the issue of foreign architects practicing in India, and not on its impact on architectural education.
i. There are increasing numbers of academic exchange and research programmes between individual institutions in India and foreign ones. By and large they are ad hoc in nature and remain opportunistic in practice with no scope for sustained continuity.ii. These programmes are generally in the form of accommodating foreign faculty in Indian institutions or undertaking joint research/ studio exercise with foreign students on projects located in India. Conferences and seminars with foreign participants are another avenue of cross-border exchange and dialogue.
i. In most of these cross-border academic exchanges, the flow of information is either structured to benefit the foreign collaborator directly or the agenda to benefit local students/ institutions is determined by them. Typically, these benefits “trickle down”, because no comprehensive reform is attempted.ii. At least, the local student/ faculty gets “exposed” to their foreign counterparts, but after the exercise, it is business as usual as prescribed by the CoA curriculum.iii. The local collaborator is often able to leverage the links that are forged through such exercises to enhance their own academic and professional goals abroad.iv. In sum, the balance of benefits favours the foreign collaborator.
i. To begin, the disparity between the collaborators must be accepted as an issue and factored into any cross- border academic collaborations.ii. The disparities could be material or cultural in nature. To overcome these disparities should be the raisond’être of any equitable academic dialogue. Example : The joint studio project on “Homelessness” between the Westminster University, London, and the TVB School of Habitat Studies, New Delhi.
i. Some of the characteristics of contemporary architectural education are : a. The statutory/regulating authorities expect the standard (minimum) curriculum to be followed by all institutions. This imposes uniformity. However, the CoA curriculum does permit individual institutions to determine for themselves 25% of the curriculum, but this opportunity is seldom taken advantage of. Example: When the TVB School of Habitat Studies was established it was an independent institution, and so it devoted 25% of its curriculum to the problems of the urban poor, studying vernacular traditions and alternate building materials and technologies. However, after it was forced to affiliate to a local University, no deviations from the prescribed curriculum was permitted.