Architectural Studies (ARCS) is a liberal arts program that exposes students to the design process and prepares them to be active, well-rounded contributors to society. As the only liberal arts degree in Kent State’s College of Architecture and Environmental Design, ARCS offers a high level of flexibility, which allows students to customize the undergraduate experience to suit their own career and educational goals. The ARCS program includes required design studios, lecture/studio hybrid courses and seminars on design thinking, history/theory/criticism and sustainability. It also includes required electives chosen by the student from courses across campus, which ARCS students use to pursue minors in related areas like Construction Management, Geography, Urban Studies, Biological Sciences, Music, Fine Arts, Business, Marketing, Art History and others. ARCS students also have the option of graduating with a streamlined dual degree: Bachelor of Arts in Architectural Studies and Bachelor of Science in Construction Management. Additionally, ARCS students take Architecture electives, which allow them to explore digital design, fabrication processes and building technology, or to pursue a minor in Architectural History or Historic Preservation. ARCS students also have the option of spending a semester at Kent State’s facility in Florence, Italy. ARCS lays a broad foundation for professional graduate education in a diverse array of design fields including architecture, landscape architecture, urban design/planning, construction management, graphic design, industrial design, real estate law, development, historic preservation and architectural history/theory.
In this year, students enroll in the Foundations Design Studio and Design Thinking courses, which they experience together with first-year Architecture and Interior Design students. These courses focus on the design of spaces and objects, human perception of space and representation skills in two and three dimensions. During this year students also take foreign language, Kent Core courses and art history. They are also exposed to the diverse array of minors, double majors and dual degrees available to them as ARCS students, and they are encouraged to begin thinking about which of these best suits their goals. In this process, ARCS students receive individual advising from the Program Coordinator and Academic Advisors.
ARCS students continue to broaden their perspectives by taking courses in critical thinking, architectural history and the Kent Core. The cornerstone of the second year is a studio course that gives ARCS students a basic introduction to the design processes used in several design professions; this studio is intended to help students discover and develop their own professional goals, while simultaneously engaging them with a local community. By the end of this year, ARCS students officially declare their chosen minor(s), double major or dual degree.
During this year, students take required upper-division theory and technology courses on structural systems, sustainability, graphic representation, urban issues and fabrication processes. These courses supplement the traditional lecture format with hands-on, immersive activities such as labs, design exercises, digital/analog fabrication projects and field trips to urban sites in northeast Ohio. They also take courses in their chosen minor(s), double major or dual degree.
In addition to an upper-division course on architectural theory and criticism, during this year students take architecture electives and they complete the requirements for their chosen minor(s), double major or dual degree. Students are also encouraged to pursue independent, guided research projects that help them delve more deeply into issues relevant to the career of their choice, as well as to help them prepare for professional graduate education in this field.