About the Knowlton School

The Ohio State University was founded as a land-grant institution in the 19th century in response to the industrial revolution. At that time, the United States faced economic challenges that needed young professionals, particularly in agriculture and mining engineering, trained by institutions such as The Ohio State University. Gradually, the educational scope of land-grant institutions expanded to include the liberal arts with the understanding that this broadly based curriculum insures the informed citizenry upon which a democracy depends.

Today, the double heritage of utilitarian address and cultural mandate plays out in the curricula of the Knowlton School. We train young planners, landscape architects, and architects – professionals that are increasingly important in a world marked by scarcity, volatility and interconnectivity. However, the pedagogical legacy of the school is that professional training is necessary but not sufficient to this task. Each of our curricula includes technical subjects that are matched with history and theory classes to underscore the cultural implications of each disciplinary approach.

Design at Knowlton does not decorate an existing world, it proposes new worlds. At the undergraduate level, design shifts a liberal arts education from passive reception to active engagement. Our undergraduates act on what they know. At the graduate level, design combines technical expertise and conceptual breadth. Our graduates offer alternatives to outmoded conventions.

Clearly, the pressures to address real world situations are increasing. These pressures are economic (from irresponsible lending practices and income inequities), environmental (from resource depletion and population explosion), and political (as economic and environmental pressures destabilize governments). Yet this challenge is not new. It is reflected in our double heritage. On the one hand, there is the utilitarian requirement to respond to pressing demands – the industrial demands of agriculture and mining replaced by the post-industrial demands of agriculture, environment, and health. And, on the other hand, there is the cultural mandate to educate young professionals so that they contribute to our most profound aspirations, and in so doing, have the intellectual agility to address demands that will change as challenges are met and new challenges appear.

Michael B. Cadwell

Walter H. Kidd Professor and Director
Austin E. Knowlton School of Architecture