UC Berkeley (Nick)



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    don't say that word

    Nick Sowers
    Oct 3, '08 11:24 AM EST


    It's a bad word. Let me tell you a tale about 35 Berkeley thesis students. For five weeks, we were producing work and searching our interests and talking about all kinds of things that you would never think would apply to the ominous question: what is your thesis about?

    But the assignment for the last week (after the cube, the sites, the universe) --to research a topic related to your thesis interest-- was pronounced a failure merely five students in to the presentations.

    So they asked us: Why did you struggle? And one of us hit the nail on the head: Because you said the world 'thesis'. (lots of laughter followed, acknowledging this was true).

    It's not so easy to substitute "interest" for "thesis", but that's what we are asked to do. Luke, one of the thesis advisors, half-jokingly said "Maybe the new paradigm is to eliminate personal interest in architecture school." If we aren't researching something we can become obsessed about, then what's the point of thesis? Just another mediocre research project and studio with someone whipping you just a bit harder?

    So on that note I checked out a blog entry by Tim at SCI Arc which was followed by a set of testimonials to thesis and also some critiques. But mostly positive things like: it kicked my ass but damn it was worth it. Or, it's a bottomless abyss but you xx years later I still revisit that journey...

    And so Zoe, another of our three advisors, says: there has to be something at stake; you have to go into the rabbit hole and you don't know if you will come out.

    Personally, I'm pretty excited about the prospect of diving in. I'm trying my best to suspend all inhibitions. I'm looking forward to next week's edition of "rabbit hole prep"

    • 1 Comment

    • copper_top

      Oh, you've got me laughing Nick. It's so true. The moment you say 'thesis', at least half of the class shuts down. I figure just find the project that can combine as many of your interests as possible, then slap on the 'thesis' label and call it a day.

      On the other hand, one of the recent grads from my program found a pie chart detailing what your thesis ends up being. I think it gave about 73% of your time to your advisor's interests, and only 4% of your time to your interests. So mostly, just find an advisor whose interests mirror yours as closely as possible, and you'll probably be fine!

      Oct 3, 08 2:47 pm  · 

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