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Sharing Your Institutional Experience with the SAH Data Project

by SAH News | Jul 01, 2020
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A global pandemic makes it hard to respond to surveys, even ones as closely related to one’s intellectual interests as those launched in February by the SAH Data Project. Particularly challenging is the survey designed to collect enrollment data and other institutional trends. Indeed, we have not—yet—had the kind of robust response to that survey that we had hoped for. Certainly, we understand why: the department chairs and program administrators we had originally imagined as respondents have been pulled away from their on-campus offices and required to focus on much more pressing issues. We wish them strength, courage, and fortitude as they continue to plan for the next academic year.

At the same time, institutional data is vital to the SAH Data Project. Indeed, the project grew out of a conviction that architectural history—broadly defined to include the history of interiors, landscape architecture, urbanism, and the cultural landscape—is central to a healthy democracy, one in which citizens are prepared to make informed decisions about the public realm. Enrollment trends over time, one of the survey’s main concerns, will shed light on the degree to which students have access to the critical perspectives on the built environment that will make them more effective participants in the world they inhabit.

To encourage additional responses to the institutional survey (as we are now calling it), we have taken five steps:

  • We are asking architectural history faculty members to take a leadership role in ensuring that information from their home institution is included in our final data set. This may mean asking the department chair for a bit of help, reaching out to colleagues for information they might have, and even providing estimates informed by experience. If you can serve this role for your institution, thank you!
  • We trimmed the survey down significantly to minimize the time it will take to respond. Everyone’s time is particularly precious these days.
  • We added a PDF of the institutional survey to the SAH Data Project website, so respondents can gather the data points they will need to respond to the survey before sitting down in front of the computer. Again, this is a way to honor the time and effort of busy respondents.
  • Sarah M. Dreller, the SAH Data Project’s researcher, has reserved time on Zoom twice a week to answer your questions about the institutional survey: Tuesdays 11–11:30 am CST, beginning July 7; and Thursdays 2–2:30 pm CST, beginning July 9. No advanced registration is required. You can find meeting links on the SAH Data Project’s website.
  • We have extended the deadline for completing the institutional survey to August 15. We hope this will make it possible for many of you to find the time and presence of mind needed to give the leaner survey the attention it deserves.

If you have not already done so, please fill out the faculty survey or the student survey, as appropriate to your situation. Please also encourage those in your professional networks to do so as well. Like the institutional survey, these surveys will be open until August 15.

Let’s do this together.




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.
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