March 07, 2014
Master of Architecture Attracting International Attention
With the addition of the Master of Architecture (M.Arch) program, as well as the institute’s push toward experiential learning and external collaboration, Wentworth is continuing to evolve and attract new students. To continue this movement of teaching to increasing audiences, Jonathan Foote, director, College of Architecture, Design and Construction, and Jennifer Lee, assistant professor, College of Architecture, Design and Construction, are traveling to China.
The whirlwind trip will consist of four cities in five days and the end result, Foote hopes, is a group of Chinese students who want Wentworth to be their choice for a master’s degree in architecture.
Wentworth Institute of Technology: Why are you and Jennifer Lee heading overseas?
Jonathan Foote: We really want to increase the international profile within the master’s program. Right now, the program consists of 99.9 percent internal candidates. We think there is a lot of interesting perspective that external students can bring to Wentworth. The problem, of course, is finding the students and one of the strategies, among others, is to reach outside of the country, specifically looking for regions around the world that have an emerging middle class, that have digital applicant pools, and who have residents that have shown interest in coming here.
WIT: And you arrived at China for the time being.
JF: We had a few students from China who have applied to the architecture program last year, so the interest is already there. And, with China being an emerging middle class, there is a lot of cultural and financial exchange happening between our two countries. There is a lot of movement going on. Additionally, Jennifer Lee has taken students to Hong Kong in the past and believes that there is great interest there in our program.
The M.Arch program consists of a one-year program for internal candidates and a two-year program for external candidates, the latter of which would include students from China who choose to enroll at Wentworth. Classes examine the history, theory, culture, and technology of the built environment, making full use of the surrounding Boston landscape, and regularly inviting a wide range of experts to work with students in a hands-on fashion.
WIT: Why should Chinese students pursue their Master of Architecture with Wentworth as opposed to other schools?
JF: We can offer things that are very unique to students here. Boston is known around the world. You can ask practically anyone to name two or three cities in the United States and Boston is probably one of them. International students are aware of the history in the city and the richness of architecture. Beyond that, Wentworth is unique for its EPIC Learning initiative. We can offer hands-on, real-world classes, and we are thoroughly preparing graduates for successful careers.
WIT: What is the plan when you get to China?
JF: We will lecture and meet people in four cities: Hong Kong, Shanghai, Chong Qing, and Beijing. My basic strategy is to connect students through the discipline and the content. Especially for grad students, there is an interest in resonating with a body of expertise or interesting people. Rather than going to the schools and saying, “Hey, come to Wentworth,” we’re going to talk about specific topics and interesting projects we’re working on.
At the same time, we’ll have our program featured on posters around the school. We’ll meet administrators and other faculty, they get to see who we are. And we’re also expressing a desire to be a digital avenue for undergraduates if they’re interested.
There are also a few blank areas. I have certain appointments set up, but the schedule is somewhat open for flexibility. Having some trust in the informal potential of just being there is part of what we’re believing in here. I think if we devote time to personally respond to students there we will find a greater enthusiasm from them.
With the master’s program we are moving outside of our walls a bit and we’re externally collaborating. And we’re hopeful that trips like this one to China will continue to diversify our student population.
- Dennis Nealon