Since 1999, the RC-FAAD has evolved from two different Departments, Visual Arts and Architecture, and from two different Faculties, Humanities and Engineering, into a unique, growing and independent Faculty housing four Departments with their respective and varied undergraduate and graduate majors. The time spent was challenging, productive and rewarding in all of the three categories involved: teaching, research and services dedicated to NDU.
The vision for the Faculty of Architecture, Art and Design is now at a crossroad of local and global standards. Accomplishing NECHE accreditation, NDU has accepted the challenge of meeting the highest standards within the international academic framework. This is being achieved through development of new programs based on existing majors, leading to even further specialized areas of study.
NDU Administration has taken upon itself to become a premier hub for sustainability in operations, research, education, and engagement. It has supported a large number of activities related to promoting sustainability in the RC-FAAD. These activities include: local, regional and international study trips (seeing is believing); local, regional and international exposure with the collaboration of other universities (workshops and hands -on activities should be regular within the academic program); conducting experimental applications; student competitions; interdisciplinary involvement with other professions (getting acquainted with market and industry); and furthermore , being directly involved in preservation, sustainability and conservation of energy and flexibility.
Again, today we are gathered throughout the three campuses to engage in that commitment. Bearing in mind the rate at which technology is developing, it is clear that many issues today need to be handled depending on the different conditions and technological advancements they entail. How can we continue teaching new generations within the RC-FAAD? What will become obsolete in a few decades? A new educational approach is needed! An approach that will allow new programs to be flexible and adaptable to the future specific requirements. We need to implement a direct application of what they learn. Students should be encouraged to utilize simulation tools within the curricula of their program to ensure that practical application runs in parallel to theory. Moreover, students should be urged to spend more time on the premises of studios where they will be exposed to diverse atmospheres created by their classmates and instructors (studio culture). Our duty is to prepare our students for the most probable conditions they’re going to encounter at the peak of their profession; i.e. between the present and 40 years into the future. But what kind of future could be reasonably anticipated? The best existing approach to future academia must be oriented towards integrating data and scientific information all which leads to the ability to innovate with advancing and changing technologies.
Through our teaching methodologies, the main approach will be to tie theoretical and essential parts of the topic to the student’s direct and concrete application. Students can only learn when they have the chance to apply the pragmatic rules themselves, bearing in mind that trial and error will occur and strengthen basic knowledge in depth. Involvement in joint collaborations (seminars, workshops, conferences, etc.) with other universities and professional establishments on the local, regional and international scale, for both students and instructors, should be a common regular occasion within the academic year. Meeting of local and international audiences can contribute to enhancing perception of NDU not only as a local and promising university with great potential, but also as a global establishment producing designers of international standing. Furthermore, regular meetings with faculty members and students will remain a permanent source for eliciting constructive criticism and critical thinking, for the purpose of enhancing methods of teaching and realizing academic excellence.
As educators, we have a role in shaping societies that adapt and adjust to changing times. Academic members should be experts in creating conditions and fine-tuning programs to suit current times and complement changing demands on both local and global scales. This can only be achieved if we work hard in building a diverse and flexible environment. Our moral involvement in the teaching process does not end where our jobs begin, on the contrary, it is with the same passion, motivation and principles that I ask you to guide the creative and professional individuals that come to NDU seeking education. The success of such endeavors, whether on the educational, social, local or international levels, requires commitment, patience and hard work. Through cooperation, we can ensure continuity and growth to achieve the kind of prosperity and achievement NDU is gaining reputation for.
RC-FAAD/NDU graduates are ambassadors into the world; their work and performance portray the quality of education and reflect the mission of the University which has set to shape responsible and decent human beings. Current achievements should neither blind nor stop students from striving to reach even further horizons. The creative world is a limitless domain; its edge is human imagination and the God given gift of inspiration.
Habib H. Melki, Ph.D.
Interim Dean of Ramez G. Chagoury, Faculty of Architecture, Arts & Design