Public service through architecture
Elrod, Anne Elizabeth
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Thesis question. Is it possible for a designer to make a successful living performing public service within the architectural profession? This thesis explores the viability of alternative career paths in public service architecture including, but not limited to, pro bono work, academia, non-profit employment or government jobs. This thesis raises and addresses questions regarding public service within architectural education and professionalism. Students and professionals alike, who want to be more engaged with architectural public service, often seek out new venues or create their own scenarios in which they can connect with the needs of the public. The major question I raise here in this research is: how can a professional engage in public service, or even center his or her professional goals on public service, and yet still, find a way to make a reasonable living doing so? While it is true that public service work typically does not pay well, it does not have to mean taking a vow of poverty. While I, myself, have worked in an office a few times, my primary position here is as a student, and as such, my views on education and public service are very specific to my experiences thus far. Therefore, a large portion of this thesis discusses architectural schools and the educational process due to the fact that I am still a student. Questions of how schools could or should encourage students to get involved with public service, as well as how national education standards could also encourage schools to engage the public are types of issues that will be addressed in this thesis. The thesis is introduced by defining what public service is and is not, why it's important, and what options young designers have who want to focus on public service. Professional public service options of pro bono service, academia, non-profit employment, and government jobs are then discussed in detail. Lastly, an analysis and comparison of those alternatives evaluates the viability "making a reasonable living." This thesis is primarily intended to be a guide to young designers (students or interns) who want to engage in public service but perhaps find it hard to do that while enrolled in traditional educational and internship programs.