ARCHITECTURAL STUDIES NOW: A Series of Quarterly Conversations

Organized by the SAH Architectural Studies Affiliate Group

Launched in 2020, the SAH Architectural Studies Affiliate Group is a forum for colleagues to discuss developing and working within liberal arts, undergraduate Architectural Studies programs, whether at a small college or a large university.   If you are currently associated with an Architectural Studies program or interested in learning more about them, you are warmly invited to join the Affiliate Group and participate in our programs.

Architectural Studies Now is a series of conversations, each focused on one of the topics that inevitably emerge from our discussions.  Please note that these will be conversations, not presentations, with everyone present encouraged to reflect on their own experiences and share their thoughts with the group. 

Except for the last conversation, which will take place during the 2023 SAH conference in Montréal, each conversation will take place via Zoom between 11 am and 12:30 pm, Central Time.  In the week before each session, we will circulate the Zoom links to those on the SAH Architectural Studies Affiliate Group roster.  To ensure you receive these emails, please join the group by sending a message to




Conversation One: The Art and Craft of the Assignment

Tuesday, October 4, 2022, via Zoom, 11 am – 12:30 pm, Central Time

In response to interest among its members, the SAH Architectural Studies Affiliate Group is soliciting examples of particularly successful assignments given to students in courses taught in Architectural Studies programs. These will be made available to Affiliate Group members in the fall. In our first Architectural Studies Now conversation, we will discuss some of these assignments with their authors. The program is intended to be an informal, collegial opportunity to share successes and challenges in assignment writing, and consider the ways that revised or new assignments might reinvigorate or even reshape courses.

We thank Trinity University for hosting this Zoom session.

Session organizers:

Kathryn O’Rourke, Trinity University,

Sophie Read, University College, London,




Conversation Two: Explaining Architectural Studies to Students and their Families

Wednesday, November 16, 2022, via Zoom, 11 am – 12:30 pm, Central Time

Prospective and incoming students are often curious about architecture as a field of study.  At the same time, they—and their families—are often confused by the range of programs available to them and sometimes conclude that Architectural Studies programs (whether they offer a major or a minor) are somehow “less than” programs with a professional orientation.   How do you explain the very real benefits of a liberal arts approach to studying architecture to prospective and current students and to their families?    In your experience, what talking points have resonated most strongly with them?  How have you leveraged your website to articulate the advantages of an Architectural Studies program?  

We look forward to a lively and candid discussion of your successes—and your failures—to communicate with these important audiences.   

We thank the College of William & Mary for hosting this Zoom session.

Session organizers:

Abby Van Slyck, Connecticut College, emerita,

Sibel Zandi-Sayek, College of William & Mary,





Conversation Three: Understanding the Experience of Students and Recent Alums

Monday, March 13, 2023, via Zoom, 11 am – 12:30 pm, Central Time


Following our November conversation about prospective and incoming students, this conversation focuses on the experiences of current students and recent alumni of Architectural Studies programs. 


Prior to this session, we will host an informal dialogue for students and alumni from many different schools. (Please help us spread the word, when the time comes!) This pre-session will function as a way to connect our students and alumni to each other, offer them a platform to share their experiences, goals, and ideas with a peer group they may not have yet encountered or considered, and distill themes and priorities across programs.


The March session of Architectural Studies Now will comprise a moderated panel discussion of four student/alumni leaders from the pre-session, followed by ample time for questions and further dialogue. Panelists will address questions such as: What initially interested you in Architectural Studies? What has your experience of your program been? What direction(s) have you taken, either within your Architectural Studies program as a student, or after graduation?  What advice can you offer on crafting and teaching within Architectural Studies programs? Affiliate group members will also be encouraged to share stories about their own students and recent alumni.


We thank the University of Chicago for hosting this Zoom.


Session organizers

Luke Joyner, University of Chicago,

Brett Tippey, Kent State University,




Conversation Four: How and Why to Establish an Architectural Studies Program at Your Institution

At the SAH Conference, Montréal, Quebec (April 12-16, 2023): day and time, TBA

Our final conversation of the 2022-23 academic year will take place in person at the annual SAH conference in Montréal.  This will be an opportunity to talk about the institutional benefits of establishing an Architectural Studies Program within both liberal arts institutions and in professional schools of architecture. Colleagues who are associated with and have founded such programs will reflect on their experiences, while those considering establishing a program can seek guidance and receive practical tips.  Issues to be discussed may include: the benefits to departments, schools, universities, and individual architectural historians; how to conceptualize and construct a curriculum; persuading colleagues and administrators; and potential pitfalls. 

Session organizers:

Daniel Abramson, Boston University,

Gail Fenske, Roger Williams University,



For more information about the SAH Architectural Studies Affiliate Group, including brief reports about these conversations, please visit our website:


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