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Practice Curriculum

Foundations of Applied Learning

diagram of curricular sequence

Applied Learning at the BAC

During foundation year, students complete two core foundation courses in Practice:  CityLab Intensive (FND2003) and Community Practice (FND2007).  These practice-based courses aim to scaffold professional and personal development in areas related to design thinking, critical problem-solving, communication, and collaboration skills through applied learning.  Upon successful completion of Community Practice students may choose to apply their skills to a Gateway project, gaining professional design experience while providing services to non-profit, municipal, and community partner organizations.

*Note:  The following timeline is based on a typical foundation-year sequence, but may vary to reflect the individual needs of each student.

1 // CityLab Intensive

City Lab Intensive is a four-day immersive experience that starts on a students' first day at the BAC. During the Intensive, all incoming graduate and undergraduate students engage in a series of field-based exercises centered on the exploration of systems, structures, places, and populations that make up the city of Boston.

  • Interdisciplinary student teams are taught by a range of experienced instructors and design practitioners.
  • Sketching + analysis of the City are guided by five design lenses: 1. Human Comfort, 2. Mobility, 3. Open Space, 4. Building Patterns, and 5. Social/Cultural Systems.
  • Inspiration is derived through the process of curiosity, discovery, and cultivating an appreciation for learning outside the classroom in an applied manner where collaboration and communication are essential.

2 // Community Practice

Building on the twin foci of communication and collaboration, Community Practice serves as an introduction to professional design practice at the BAC. During this course, students begin to contextualize not only the place of their learning, but also the complex challenges and opportunities presented to designers in the continual making and remaking of a design intervention.

  • Applied learning through group-based design projects, lectures, and interdisciplinary participation.
  • Communication, collaboration, and critical thinking skills are developed and strengthened to help students practice design professionally
  • Final group projects serve as a catalyst for exploring design lessons and concepts learned throughout the semester.

3 // Advanced Foundation // Gateway to Practice

Gateway students acquire practical professional experience through collaborative engagement on design projects with community groups, municipal agencies, and nonprofits in metro and greater Boston. In addition to providing services to community organizations that may find it difficult to afford full-service professional design services, Gateway students benefit from opportunities to earn Practice Hours, bolster their portfolios, strengthen technical and professional skills,  and network with students, faculty, community partners, and design professionals across an array of disciplines.  For more information, visit the Gateway page.

*Note:  Although students are typically encouraged to defer participation in a Gateway project until their second or third semester, exceptions may be made for foundation-level students who have acquired basic technical skills or project-based experience from prior involvement in a professional design setting.