Arijit Sen & Chelsea Wait: How the Field School is Transforming Higher Education

by WORT FM | May 31, 2022

It’s a common experience for many university undergraduates: You’re told to spend a certain number of hours doing community service, you log the hours during the semester, you get the grade, you move on.

This setup often benefits the student more than it does the community organization, who has to manage a rotating cast of untrained volunteers, fill out paperwork on their behalf, and start all over again four months later.

But there are other ways to think about university–community partnerships. One nationally recognized example is right here in our own backyard: the Buildings-Landscapes-Cultures Field School, a collaborative program at the University of Wisconsin’s campuses in Milwaukee and Madison.

The Field School has done a number of projects, including sustained work in Milwaukee neighborhoods like Washington Park. This work has been featured on the Human Powered podcast from Wisconsin Humanities, the Love Wisconsin project, and most recently in The Progressive magazine.

For today’s show, guest host Richelle Wilson is joined by architecture professor and Field School co-founder Arijit Sen, architecture PhD candidate Chelsea Wait, and professor and reporter Douglas Haynes

They talk about the transformative work of the Field School, the role of reciprocity in university–community partnerships, the importance of care work, the argument for repair over redevelopment, and how higher ed can and should reimagine itself in the wake of the pandemic.

Listen to this broadcast on WORT Community Radio, Madison, WI.

Arijit Sen teaches architectural design, urbanism, and cultural landscapes at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee. He is co-founder of the Buildings-Landscapes-Cultures Field School.  He initially joined SAH in 2016.  He served on the H. Allen Brooks Travelling Fellowship Committee in 2016, and on the SAH Board from 2016-2019.  He was a speaker at the 2017 and 2019 SAH annual conferences.  In 2022 he was named a Fellow of the Society of Architectural Historians.

Chelsea Wait is a PhD candidate in architecture at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s School of Architecture and Urban Planning. Chelsea joined SAH in 2017 and was a speaker at the SAH 2018 Annual International Conference.  

Douglas Haynes is a professor of English at the University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh and an affiliate of the Sustainability Institute for Regional Transformations.

Founded in 1940, the Society of Architectural Historians is an international nonprofit membership organization that promotes the study, interpretation and conservation of architecture, design, landscapes and urbanism worldwide. SAH serves a network of local, national and international institutions and individuals who, by profession or interest, focus on the built environment and its role in shaping contemporary life. SAH promotes meaningful public engagement with the history of the built environment through advocacy efforts, print and online publications, and local, national and international programs.

SAH thanks The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation
for its operating support.
Society of Architectural Historians
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Chicago, Illinois 60610