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School of Design To Offer Free Online Course

The Graduate School of Design.
The Graduate School of Design. By Krystal K. Phu
By Nicholas W. Sundberg, Crimson Staff Writer

UPDATED: January 31, 2018 at 5:47 p.m.

A new online course from the Graduate School of Design will offer students from around the world the opportunity to study the fundamentals of architecture from Harvard professors for free.

The 10-week course, which launched on Feb. 28, 2017 and is now live and available to enrollees, will explore a variety of topics spanning the history of influences of architecture. Design School professors Erika Naginski, Antoine Picon, and K. Michael Hays, alongside PhD student Lisa Haber-Thomson, produced the lessons.

According to a course summary posted online, the purpose of the initiative is to give students a greater understanding of the wider impacts of architecture, as well as the discipline’s influence on technology and history.

“In this course, you will learn how to ‘read’ architecture as a cultural expression as well as a technical achievement,” the summary reads.

The course is divided into three parts. The first phase introduces the idea of the “architectural imagination” as a medium to “share sensuous experience and conceptual understanding.” Using methods like perspective drawing and architectural typology, students will learn about the historical impacts of architecture.

The second phase will analyze how technology impacts the creation of architecture as a component of its “realization and understanding.” Lectures will cover topics like how the materials of construction often determine the architectural forms and viability of a structure, or how architecture and modern technology have changed the what can be built—and what counts as a building.

The final set of modules will analyze the complex relationship architecture has to its “social and historical contexts” and its “audiences, achievements and aspiration,” including its aesthetic power to negotiate social change to express society’s ideals.

The course will not count for credit, but people who take the course can buy a certificate once they complete the class.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction.

UPDATED: January 31, 2018

A previous version of this story incorrectly indicated that the Graduate School of Design course is set to launch on Feb. 28, 2018. In fact, the course launched on that date in 2017.

—Staff writer Nicholas W. Sundberg can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @NickWSundberg.

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