Students may situate their research interest in the comprehensive area of History, Theory and Society, or may choose concentrations in Environmental Design & Urbanism in Developing Countries or Social and Cultural Processes in Architecture & Urban Design.
The Environmental Design and Urbanism in Developing Countries concentration emphasizes an understanding of how the physical environment, in so-called “third world” nations is shaped by larger global, cultural, historic, social and economic forces.
Unlike similar areas of study in other schools the Berkeley program is premised on two interlinked concepts: first, that the study of other cultures, societies, and peoples is a fundamental exercise for the creation of a better physical environment, and, second, that the first world can learn from the experiences of the third world as much as it can contribute to it.
The area is conceived as a horizontal link between the different areas of the curriculum within and outside the department. Courses offered in the concentration are often classified under Social and Cultural Processes, History of Architecture, City and Regional Planning, and Global Metropolitan Studies. Enrolled students are also expected to take courses in the departments of Anthropology, Geography, History, Sociology or International and Area Studies as needed. Topics being pursued in this area include third world urbanization, urbanism, squatting, informal housing, colonial and post-colonial urban development, and traditional dwellings and settlements. The International Association for the Study of Traditional Environments, based in the College of Environmental Design, serves as the research arm of this area of emphasis.
The following faculty are members of the M.S. - Ph.D. committee and serve on M.S. thesis and Ph.D. dissertation committees. Please also review the current list of all faculty in the Architecture Department.
Social research in a professional school of architecture often focuses on serving the profession, but it can also serve as a form of cultural criticism in the tradition of the humanities. Social research supports the profession through programming and evaluation research—those close observations of reality that can inspire new designs and refine existing paradigms. Alternatively, social research gives us the distance to stand back and observe what society is producing through its architecture and to comment on the wisdom or folly entailed.
Contemporary social research helps the designer conceptualize and learn about the needs of different people in different roles. At first, much of the research in the US emphasized this behavioral level of analysis, but it has expanded over the last 45 years to include other levels. Accordingly, the field of person-environment studies now includes organizational, institutional, societal and cultural levels of analysis.
As the research field has expanded, methods have also expanded. Because studies can be behavioral, organizational, institutional, and/or societal and cultural, methods are correspondingly varied. Increasingly, social researchers in architecture use qualitative, interpretive, and critical approaches to describe, analyze, understand, critique, and even advocate, while others might use quantitative and behavioral approaches to help resolve social-environmental problems in a wide array of settings.
The following faculty are members of the M.S. - PhD committee and serve on M.S. thesis and PhD dissertation committees. Please also review the current list of all faculty in the Architecture Department.