The Student should register for Thesis Prep in the spring semester of 4th year. During the Thesis Prep Course the Student is advised by the faculty member assigned to the course. It is their role to help the student understand the nature of the Thesis and to assist in identifying a Thesis topic and develop the Thesis Proposal.
The Thesis Prep component is a process of discovery whose intention is to guide the student to learn to think independently, to learn how to see, how to analyze, and to express the social condition. The goal is to develop an understanding within the student that research is a mode of inquiry that implies not only the gathering of factual information, but also the implicit and explicit values, conventions and assumptions that make up the built environment.
Thesis Prep is also a moment where much of the student's latent qualities- as a person, a designer and citizen- reveal themselves. The pedagogy aims to uncover such potentials. In Thesis Prep, the student explores a range of research methodologies:
- Processes of seeing, documentation and mapping including existing conditions, memories invisible relationships.
- Ways of visualizing a problem.
- Processes of researching and identifying contemporary issues in architecture, technology, society and culture.
- Developing processes of constructing an argument using writing rigorously and poetically.
Research is a creative activity driven by a question and/or hypothesis that explores precedent, site, critical readings, and technique with the goal of formulating positions regarding architectural thinking and production.
This process may start with self-reflection as a means to enter into investigation and discovery or more universal issues. By beginning with introspection students learn to think both analytically and emotionally. Besides personally engaging each student in his/her project, the aim of this introspective process is for the student to problematize values and from that to consciously develop his/her own position on socio-cultural and architectural issues.
The Thesis Prep Deliverables
Working with the Thesis Prep faculty the student will develop a Thesis Proposal, a concise and specific statement, outlining an area of study, or a design problem that has consequences for contemporary architectural production. Students are encouraged to work with their Thesis Prep Faculty to identify a category, precedents and potential sites to be further explored. This will be the basis of further independent investigation as part of the Thesis Research and the basis of the Thesis Studio. Identification of the Thesis Category at this early stage is only preliminary and is not intended to be limited or determinative.
The culmination of Thesis Prep is the Bazaar, a week long display of posters and abstracts that provides the faculty with the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the various proposed Thesis Proposals emerging from the Thesis Prep course.
During the Bazaar faculty engage in a review of the Thesis Proposals and identify projects with which they would like to work. The Bazaar is "blind" meaning that the displayed information does not contain the student's name. Each Thesis Proposal is numbered and identifies the general type of thesis project being proposed.
Each Bazaar poster should be accompanied by copies of an anonymous small card (5.5" x 8.5" or smaller) which includes a brief abstract of the students Thesis Proposal; this is for faculty members to collect as reminders of your Thesis Proposal. In addition, faculty will be invited to leave comments and suggestions on titled blank sheets for your review.
On the final day of the Bazaar, a ceremonial event is set up in the Gallery for faculty and students. This event provides students with the opportunity to ask faculty questions regarding comments and suggestions left with their Thesis Proposal. The event also provides the student with an opportunity to better acquaint themselves with the individual expertise and interests of the faculty prior to making their final selections for Thesis Advisor.
The selection of Thesis Advisers and Committee Structure takes place after the close of the Thesis Bazaar. The process is outlined in the section entitled The Thesis Committee. Announcement of Thesis Advisers and Thesis Committees will be made by the Thesis Prep Faculty the following week
Evaluation and Progression to Thesis Research
To progress to Thesis Research all Students must have successfully completed ARCH 4014 maintaining a C average in the studio sequence. Additionally, students must also successfully pass Thesis Prep. This includes the submittal of an approved Thesis Proposal in the Thesis Bazaar that will serve as the basis of the work done in Thesis Research. The Thesis Proposal is not identical with the Theorem which serves as the deliverable for Thesis Research and constitutes the first part of the Thesis Book.