Environmentally conscious design - educating future architects

Lisa Domenica Iulo, Christine Gorby, Ute Poerschke, Loukas Nickolas Kalisperis, Malcolm Woollen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Purpose: This paper aims to examine how US architectural programs are addressing environmental imperatives through curricular-based initiatives. It offers a brief overview of how environmentally conscious design education has evolved and compares curricular approaches to social, aesthetic, and technical sustainability education from six architecture programs considered to be national leaders in sustainability education. Design/methodology/approach: Views from leading architectural programs on sustainable education were compiled and assessed leading to a curricular study of course and degree offerings. Findings: It was found that four consistent approaches to undergraduate sustainable design education are being promoted: core value: all course content addresses sustainable design; systems-focused: support courses fulfill needs for sustainable education; choice: sustainable education is through student selection of courses offerings; and specialization: sustainable education is a specialty endeavor mainly at the graduate level and in concert with centers or institutes. A new "composite" approach to sustainable design education is outlined. Research limitations/implications: Conclusions about architectural curricula were drawn from the assessment of a limited number of representative programs. The findings demonstrate that a technical-course based approach from the specialist perspective still dominates most architecture programs. Practical implications: The paper contributes to discourse on sustainability by examining how leading US architectural programs are currently addressing environmental imperatives through curricular-based initiatives. Social implications: This paper concludes that a culturally based approach from a generalist perspective which encompasses systems knowledge and interactions among many disciplines is needed in design education. Originality/value: Beyond architecture, the findings will be useful to many disciplinary domains considering the transition to a stronger, more fully integrated, environmentally focused curriculum.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)434-448
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Education


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