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Past Winners of the Teacher of the Week

Greg Tew


The Center for Instructional Development and Educational Research (CIDER) recognizes Greg Tew, associate professor of Architecture + Design, for explaining to students that design is personal, and in many ways subjective, requiring value judgements and ethical reasoning for evaluating the relative goodness of an idea or thing.

Mr. Tew has two distinctly different teaching assignments in the School of Architecture + Design, ARCH 1015, 1016: Foundation Design Laboratory, and ITDS 1114: Design Appreciation. 

The Foundation Design Laboratory is a six credit design course that meets 12 hours per week with about 20 students majoring in architecture, landscape architecture, industrial design, and interior design. The unique challenge in that course is the need to help students to, not discard, but look beyond their preconceived ideas, biases, and personal history to see the foundational elements of art and design widely valued through the course of human history around the world. Assignments are specifically designed to help students develop an objective understanding of fundamental design qualities. With that knowledge, acquired through countless hours of drawing, modeling, research and contemplation, students are able to advance quickly in their advanced – discipline specific – design studio courses.

Design Appreciation is a large format lecture course offering Area 2 and 6 CLE credit. With 330 students, the challenge is engaging students in a setting that is the opposite of our small, time-intensive, studio courses in the School of Architecture + Design. To do this, Mr. Tew explains on the first day of class that everyone that thinks and acts (so essentially everyone) is a designer. He also explains that design is personal, and in many ways subjective, requiring value judgements and ethical reasoning for evaluating the relative goodness of an idea or thing. With that introduction, the course is taught as a long story of how life – past, present and future – has been, is and will be shaped by design. A key theme that repeats throughout the semester is that design can both positively and negatively impact our quality of life, and these impacts are often simultaneous creating practical and ethical dilemmas. Examples of this include the internet and smartphones. They have placed a world of information and the ability to effectively communicate in our hands, yet increasingly, much of the information is false and the communication can be divisive. Students are also required to keep a journal in the course to write their thoughts on the topics we discuss. This year, near the end of the semester, after lectures that weave together stories of the Berlin Wall, gas tax policy, health care insurance, robots, and (of all things) the various gadgets available for slicing bananas, a student wrote, “Stop blowing my mind. Why are we so dumb and against change? How can we fix all (of) our issues?” Though this student’s comments might lead you to believe the course is mired in the problems of the world, the ultimate message is for students to see, understand and accept the challenges we face, and have always faced. Because if we can see our problems, design innovation can help solve them.

Mr. Tew was a 2014 Sporn Award winner for Design Appreciation. As one student stated in their SPOT, "Greg really did a wonderful job of creating a respectful studio environment that inspired our whole class to be eager to learn and impress one another. I was always inspired to bring new work to class and Greg gave good constructive criticism and feedback." As another summed up their appreciation of the class, "This course is so good that I believe I am so lucky to be in this studio family'


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