The purpose of cosmopolitan citizenship education is to form critical, informed, empathic, and socially active individuals. Developing these traits can greatly help students of architecture to imagine not only new spatial configurations but inspire them to explore new societal roles. Architectural education as a field of research can therefore be used in multiple ways: as a critical process of inquiry, as a vehicle to raise social awareness, as a tool for collective imagination, and as a collaborative project aimed at caring for and repairing the spaces of common good. Recognizing these multiple purposes of pedagogy means recognizing the societal relevance that architects have beyond the important and un-disputed one of designers of buildings.
The 2023 Teachers Conference is dedicated to exploring the architect as a cosmopolitan citizen, to discuss and explore the pedagogy and language to support students and teachers’ critical thinking, self-reflection, social awareness, imagination, and activism. A pedagogy for cosmopolitan citizenship in architectural education aims to transform schools into inclusive, diverse, collaborative, socially aware and active platforms receptive to different ways of being, thinking, and making architecture–into learning environments for exploring the design process as a means to advance social and ecological justice.
Such education is related to lived experiences; it is about understanding that ongoing climate crises, social inequality, and spread of zoonotic diseases need to constitute the premise and scope of scholarly investigation, educational discourse, and design solutions. These global challenges reflect in fact not our lack of knowledge but our inability to relate harmoniously to one another and our inability to care for each other and our planet as a whole. They reflect the way we have been designing the world, but not the way we should be designing the world.
The conference expressly aims at transcending disciplinary boundaries to include contributions from different fields of expertise in creative practice and research at large. The goal is to bridge practice and academia, to reemphasize the public role and duty of higher education, and to emphasize the societal relevance of our discipline.
– Massimo Santanicchia, Iceland University of the Arts, Conference Chair