Learning and Teaching Policy

Learning and Teaching Policy

Intention of the Policy

This Learning and Teaching Policy is intended to set the conditions for students, faculty and staff to collectively fulfill Yale School of Architecture’s mission to educate architects, scholars, teachers, and leaders who will shape the future through design. The culture within the school is a living and evolving context created collectively by a changing group of colleagues, and this policy is intended to be a collaborative and active document, annually reviewed and updated by members of the student body, faculty, staff and administration.

School Culture

Engagement with the Outside World

Yale School of Architecture is committed to excellence in architectural design and the education of architects, scholars, and leaders prepared to positively impact the future of the built environment. Students are encouraged to embrace the roles of creative makers, critical thinkers, and local and global citizens. In pursuit of these goals, the school supports a series of initiatives that expand learning, research, and engagement beyond the walls of YSoA to the university, the community, and the profession.

Through YSoA’s interdisciplinary approach, supported through its integrated curriculum and interdepartmental course cross-listings, students can broaden their knowledge, acquire skills, and widen their perspective by taking classes across Yale University, courses that fulfill graduation requirements. YSoA also offers two joint degrees with the School of the Environment and the School of Management. Beyond the University, YSoA actively engages the New Haven community through the Building Project, where students and faculty members work with local organizations to understand community needs before contributing much-needed housing through design and construction.

As students approach graduation, YSoA offers career services aimed to help new graduates in their transition from academic life to a professional career in architecture. YSoA’s alumni community constitutes a valuable network that continuously supports recent graduates entering the profession and the school in its efforts to offer an architectural education that responds to the contemporary challenges of design and the built environment.

Inclusivity, Equality, and Diversity, Mutual Respect

Yale School of Architecture aspires to sustain a school culture that is rooted in inclusivity and collaboration. YSoA welcomes many perspectives and backgrounds. The responsibility of sustaining a positive, respectful learning environment is shared by the entire YSoA community, including the administration, faculty, staff and students.

YSoA is committed to understanding the needs of staff, faculty and students of diverse backgrounds and establishing a system of equitable support. Faculty receive training towards fostering a culture that encourages respect, collaboration and engagement. Students are expected to follow the Code of Conduct and Social Rules developed by EiD to create an atmosphere of mutual respect that encourages the free exchange of ideas both in and outside of class time. Particularly during remote courses, faculty should acknowledge students’ varied accessibility to resources, and should not evaluate student work based on the students’ access to technological and financial resources.

Student groups focus on academic, cultural, political, and community-based interests that reach beyond academics. YSoA alumni and student organizations aim to sustain the same culture in both the school environment and the larger professional practice. YSoA encourages and supports the effort and engagement from alumni and student organizations to collaboratively create a culture of equality and inclusivity.

Health and Wellness

While the Yale School of Architecture acknowledges the intensity of studio-based architecture education, the school community values a healthy work-life balance as much as it values intellectual pursuits. Time management and well-being are encouraged by YSoA’s faculty and administration and valued within YSoA’s school culture. Faculty and students should both encourage responsible and balanced work ethics. Faculty are expected to assess workload and coordinate deadlines with all required courses. Faculty and students should mutually respect the varied commitments of each individual, and work together to manage expectations of time and effort devoted to assignments and reviews.

YSoA also regularly evaluates the environmental health conditions within the building, and students must follow all health and safety regulations when using the school facilities.

All members of YSoA are encouraged to use the Health & Wellness resources at Yale University.

Integrity, Honesty

YSoA’s school culture creates a safe environment for free expression, values intellectual curiosity, and encourages a spirit of inquiry. All YSoA members are subject to the rules of academic integrity, and are responsible for holding each other accountable. Faculty should be impartial and fair to all students by establishing and following clear criteria when evaluating student work. Faculty are expected to use constructive language when discussing academic performance. YSoA follows fair and transparent criteria for resource distribution, such as awarding teaching fellowships and graduation awards.

Ethos of collaboration

Architecture education is rooted in collaboration and the exchange of diverse perspectives both in and out of the school environment. All members of YSoA are encouraged to actively engage with the world beyond the academy to create ethical, relevant architecture and critical, open discussion that supports a sustainable, resilient planet.

Open communication

At YSoA, the administration, faculty, staff and students have a collaborative relationship and share the same goals. The school encourages open communication between members of the community and active engagement in all academic and school activities. Members of YSoA work together to shape the future of the school through honest feedback and open discussions enabled by mechanisms such as semesterly evaluations, joint faculty/student committees, annual environmental surveys and regular town halls.

Non-discrimination Statement

Yale University is committed to basing judgments concerning the admission, education, and employment of individuals upon their qualifications and abilities and affirmatively seeks to attract qualified persons of diverse backgrounds to its faculty, staff, and student body.

In accordance with this policy and as delineated by federal and Connecticut law, Yale does not discriminate in admissions, educational programs, or employment against any individual on account of that individual’s sex, race, color, religion, age, disability, status as a special disabled veteran, veteran of the Vietnam era or other covered veteran, or national or ethnic origin; nor does Yale discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. The University policy is committed to affirmative action under law in employment of women, minority group members, individuals with disabilities, special disabled veterans, veterans of the Vietnam era, and other covered veterans. Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 protects people from sex discrimination in educational programs and activities at institutions that receive federal financial assistance.

Academic Environment

Mission of teaching and learning excellence

YSoA is committed to excellence in learning and teaching of architecture to prepare architects, researchers, and leaders for the future stewardship of the built environment.

Interdisciplinary approach

The school encourages an interdisciplinary approach to the programs’ curriculum that integrates architecture with other disciplines, promotes cultural literacy, and widens the students’ perspective on the frontiers of architectural knowledge and its capacity to respond to contemporary issues.

Open, enriched curriculum

The faculty and administration are collectively committed to forging an open, evolving and inclusive curriculum that responds to student interests, current circumstances, and a diverse set of constituents and audiences. This extends to all forms of academic learning including travel, lectures, exhibitions, publications and media and fabrication facilities, and it is informed in particular by student-run organizations and publications within the school.

Inclusive teaching methods

The faculty and administration are collectively committed to engaging students through a broad array of teaching methods. Teaching is an adaptive practice that relies on continual exploration of new inter-personal, pedagogical and technological means and methods.

Balanced curriculum

The school continually seeks to balance and coordinate between study areas so that students can find both resonance and synergy between the complex web of aesthetic, historical, theoretical, technological, social, cultural, environmental, economic, and ecological influences that shape the build environment.

Evaluation Methods

YSOA is committed to ensuring that all methods of evaluation are fair, constructive, and support the learning process. Instructors are expected to state clear expectations and articulate verbally and/or through written evaluations each student’s performance in relation to those expectations. Faculty are expected to be available both during the course and at the end of the semester to further explain their evaluation and answer students’ questions.

Studio Culture

Expectations: instructors (including guest critics)

Faculty members should value and pursue teaching excellence through a stimulating and enriched curriculum open to student interests, and through committed pedagogical engagement that treats all students with dignity, integrity and fairness.

Faculty members are expected to be clear in their expectations for students throughout the semester, and evaluate student work following clear criteria. Throughout the semester, faculty members should communicate with students clearly and in a timely manner when expectations are not being successfully met. Faculty members are also expected to facilitate the students’ intellectual curiosity and spirit of inquiry by offering constructive feedback when evaluating student work.

Faculty members are expected to relay the same values to invited guest critics and hold them accountable to the same standard of behavior.

Expectations: students

Students at YSoA act on intellectual curiosity and a spirit of inquiry to explore, research, experiment, and invent solutions to real design challenges and opportunities. Students should collaborate and support one another. Students should value and pursue academic excellence.

Students are expected to pay attention to the guidelines and criteria for each course, and work towards fulfilling course objectives and expectations. Student criticism and communication with faculty members are essential to studio-based architecture education, and the process of design is as important as the final result or evaluation.

YSoA encourages students to communicate with faculty members in a timely manner when the learning objectives are not made clear or if students have constructive feedback for the course.

Desk crits and pin-ups

Studio work is evaluated through the unique formats of desk crits and pin-ups. Desk crits allow for a one-on-one dialogue between the student and instructor. A pin-up is an opportunity for a student to layout and present their work collectively. This is usually held with peers and the instructor, encouraging the inclusion of many voices. In both formats, students and faculty are expected to listen and then exchange ideas and suggestions openly based on the work that is presented, without personal bias. The role of desk crits and pin-ups are to critically engage with the students’ intellectual curiosities and approach to a design problem. The instructor is expected to give productive feedback that helps the student productively develop their project. Each student is to be given the same opportunities, time and resources while presenting and receiving feedback.

Studio reviews

Studio reviews usually occur as mid-semester and final semester presentations. The goal of these reviews is to evaluate students’ work, give constructive feedback and to have the time and space to discuss, engage and disseminate themes and knowledge relevant to the discipline. Guest critics should reflect diverse backgrounds and expertise in order to give rich and constructive feedback.

Studio reviews are to be conducted with respect, integrity, honesty and equality. The feedback from students, faculty and visiting critics is expected to be constructive with the primary goal of supporting the development of the project to achieve architectural and intellectual excellence. Each review should be given the same amount of time, quality of feedback and number of jurors. All students are given the same time, opportunities and resources to complete their presentations. Students are expected to participate in the entire review.