Dalhousie University (2008-2010)

B1-B5 Semesters



Aug '08 - May '09

  • anchor

    beaurocracy and learning (alternate title: bullshit and rage)

    Sep 9, '08 6:34 PM EST

    P R O G R A M | S T R U C T U R E
    At the Dalhousie School of Architecture there are two divisions:

    - Step one: The BEDS (Bachelor of Environmental Design Studies) undergrad - 2 years continuous study, all courses are requisites to complete each following semester.

    - Step two: The M.Arch (Master of Architecture) - 2 years. With a couple of electives.

    Total time 4 years: (More info here)

    M Y | B A C K G R O U N D
    - I completed an undergrad - Bachelor of Design specializing in Environmental Design - at OCAD University (the Ontario College of Art and Design).
    - I worked in an architecture office for one and a half years as an architectural assitant.
    - I am a LEED accredited professional.
    - I plateaued, and realized if I wanted to build my own buildings, I need a master's in architecture.

    E V I L | B E A U R O C R A C Y
    I applied to the Master program at Dalhousie because of my previous experience in an adaptive re-use, architecture/design based program. I was not admitted due to my lack of education in building structure - which I acknowledge. However, I was admitted with "advanced standing" (which means they gave me 3 classes that I wouldn't have to do) to the BEDS program.

    Dalhousie was the only school I applied to, and its where I want to study (for reasons outlined in previous posts - the landscape, the industrial aesthetic, and the city of Halifax).

    I felt I would be extremely overqualified to complete a second bachelor of environmental design and expressed this when I accepted their offer - but I was re-assured that the school was willing to work with me to meet my educational needs.

    Now here's where it all falls apart.

    - To be a full time student you need 4 classes per semester (5 is normal).
    - I only have 3 classes first semester because they gave me two of them
    - There are no electives that can be taken [in the architecture program] because of the requisite program structure. (All students complete all classes before moving on to the next semester). Which would be good in theory, except;
    - I fall between the cracks.
    - I need 4 classes to be a "full time student" and receive my student loan.
    - They claim students can "easily" take classes at NSCAD. (I checked, they're all full, and they're super busy right now anyhow. And its not easy - I would have to call and meet the instructor and get forms signed from both schools, etc). "Easy" has not been my experience.
    - They will not allow me to take a graduate level course in sustainability because "undergraduate students cannot take master's level classes".
    - "but there is space in the class. I checked, and I'm qualified because of my other experience".
    - "You may very well be qualified, but those are the rules." "If we make an exception for one student, it sets a precedent, and we'd have to make them all the time"
    - so I'm left struggling to find some other random course in another faculty to complete my 4 courses.

    S U M M A R Y
    Its completely unacceptable when the bureaucratic bullshit of a university compromises a student's potential and desire to learn.

    I am here, and desperately trying to learn everything I can about architecture, but the "program structure" won't even allow me to take another course in architecture - what rational sense does that make?

    God forbid that a school would have to treat us each like humans, get to know us, and understand what is the best approach for each of our individual educational needs!

    So that's that. I'll find some other course somewhere, and I'll now be in line like a well behaved inmate, doing my time until I'm given the piece of paper that says that I may put up buildings.

    The Dalhousie Architecture Program structure has proven to me that its not worth the energy trying to actually engage and be an active participant in my learning by trying to select key classes that will complement my work. They'd rather I just bob along like everyone else and wash into the harbour.

    That's not to say that I won't try my best, and engage in my design and program work, because I will. I just won't waste my energy on the bureaucratic and structured short comings of this program.


    • Tyro,
      Good luck. It definitely sucks when a bureaucratic issue stops a student from fully exploring their potential. Unfortunately it seems a common problem at many schools and even in non-design programs.

      Sep 9, 08 7:03 pm

      That's absolutely idiotic. If I were you I would simply attend the grad-level course ... wait, no, you need official acceptance.

      ...hmm... i can't think of any advice for you unfortunately. Be persistent maybe? Try getting a teacher to go to bat for you? Hack into the registry systems? Pay a computer science kid to hack into the registry systems FOR you?

      Sep 9, 08 10:56 pm
      spaceman spiff

      go see kroeker and find out if he has any courses he can get you into that you might be interested in...he seems like he might be up your alley, just a hunch...or mannell if he's as energetic as he was before...he may be too busy now...kroeker is a stand up guy who doesn't get the attention he deserves, but just quietly goes about his work in a way so that those who care, know...

      Sep 11, 08 4:46 am

      Block this user

      Are you sure you want to block this user and hide all related comments throughout the site?

    • Back to Entry List...
  • ×Search in:

About this Blog

My experiences in Halifax in the Bachelor of Environmental Design program.

Affiliated with:

Authored by:


Recent Entries