College of Built Environments at the University of Washington.

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Ph.D. Program In The Built Environment

The Ph.D. in the Built Environment's course of study provides a combination of:

  1. the specialized knowledge and methods which characterize dominant cultural discourse and practices;
  2. integrations and rearrangements that are emerging in innovative and pragmatic collaborations. The cultural context and physical reality of the built environment is appreciated in its messy "pre" or "extra" disciplinary character; the complementary and often conflicting methodologies and theories are explored and evaluated; advanced specialized knowledge and strategies are developed for the three fundamental areas by working across traditional disciplinary boundaries.

The Ph.D. Program provides students with a common core of substantial knowledge concerning the integrated facets of the built environment, and then offers areas of specialization in three discrete fields of built environment knowledge and practice:

  1. Sustainable Systems and Prototypes (across a range of scales, from building elements & assemblages, to buildings, site, infrastructure & community, city, and regional contexts);
  2. Computational Design and Research (which covers the range of design and planning processes, practices, and pedagogy);
  3. History, Theory, and Representation studies (focusing on issues of regional-global modernity).

As the context for and a large part of the means toward their advanced knowledge in one of the three fundamental areas, students will master the common and interdisciplinary ground through the core of the program. The core work has three dimensions:

  1. history, theory, and ethics of built environment (a three course sequence);
  2. colloquium-practicum (a six quarter sequence);
  3. research methods and design (two courses selected from a broad range of approaches in light of each student's area and particular intended dissertation project).

In order to provide continuous guidance to the students, each student is assigned a faculty advisor who is an expert in the student's intended area of specialization. This faculty advisor in consultation with the student forms a provisional committee for additional advice as the student moves through the course work and, finally, the student selects the actual dissertation chair and committee. Because, with the guidance of their advisor and committee, each student creates a customized curriculum that addresses her or his broad intellectual interests while building expertise in the chosen area of specialization, there is no specified set of required courses for all students. Advanced coursework in the student's area of interest can be taken from courses offered by the College of Built Environments or from across the University of Washington.