Rationale

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The archi-med.es project was an initiative of a number of Schools of Architecture (SA) in the Mediterranean and European South aiming to (re)consider their position in the growing internationalization of higher (architectural) education. Its main aim was to develop strategies and policies for their sustainable academic growth, enhancement of quality and excellence, based upon their strengths and particularities.

Four interdependent parameters motivated this initiative:

1. The European Union policies on Higher Education. Cultural diversity was always a value for Europe. EU policies for HE were looking to assure a harmonization of differences in order to strenghten the common ground of Europe in the dynamics of global competition. SA in Europe perceived this legal framework either as a threat to  diversity and the local cultures or as an impulse for a better place in the international competition for excellence. Through these polarities, some schools preferred to protect the local, encountering as a result marginalization and some others to go for the international, cutting the knots with their past. archi-med.es project was based upon the belief that there is no single excellence model. Europe needs a wide diversity of HE institutions, and each must pursue excellence in line with its mission and strategic priorities.

2. The fast and unpredictable changes in our interdependent societies, values and priorities affect the architect’ s profession, which is no longer what it was ten years ago. In this fast changing world we can no longer predict this profile at local, national and international level. For archi-med.es project educating architects for an unstable, transformable, changing, unpredictable profile of an architect, urged SA to redefine their educational strategies, to reformulate their curricula and to re-establish their principles and values related to their new social role and mission. Most SA paradoxically continue  designing their curricula on the basis of what an architect currently is, preparing profiles which will most likely become incompetent after some years when today’s graduates will reach the most important stage of their career.

3. The financial crisis had a severe effect on the countries of the European South and created very particular and harsh conditions for the profession of the architect and architectural education. The paralysation of the building industry, the high percentages of unemployed architects, the new spectrum of lateral job opportunities for architects and their unstable professional activity urge for the redefinition of the profile of the graduate SA have to create. For archi-med.es project this redefinition had to emerge from the collaboration between SA, professionals and other social actors in order to safely reach  the appropriate and relevant outcomes.

4. The significant changes occurred in the way we understand teaching and learning. In the last ten years we are experiencing a shift of paradigm in HE encouraged by the EU policies from a teacher-based to a student-based education, from an input-oriented pedagogy to an output-oriented one, from knowledge-based priorities to competences-based priorities, from a problem-based to a project-based education. Tuning Program, supported by the EU commission, raised the issue of the necessity to have a clearly defined profile of the graduates to enable the appropriate design of the educational and pedagogical practices. Recently the European Qualifications Framework offered a general legal framework to be specified by country and region. archi-med.es project partners believed that the definition of the profiles of the graduates for SA is a fundamental and necessary step towards their sustainable academic growth. Creativity must be the core of this profile.

archi-med.es project was planned to be an experimental laboratory for strategies and policies for architectural education in the MEDES Countries aiming at:

  • raising awareness of the need for specific graduates’ profiles  knowledge breadth, creative skills and competences appropriate to local demands and needs so that their graduates can be more flexible and creative both in the local and international labour market.
  • supporting, elaborating and providing teaching approaches and specific pedagogies able to assure creativity and other learning outcomes appropriate for the local needs and demands.
  • elaborating incentives to support a diversity of strategic choices for curricula development through which partner SA could be able to develop regional hubs of excellence and eventual specialization.
  • encouraging partner SA to reveal and to intensify efforts on their individual strengths.