The new curriculum of RE&H; looking back and ahead

The new 2010‐2011 curriculum of RE&H; looking back and ahead. 1. Origins and start Officially the Department of RE&H started in September 1992, with o...
Author: Catherine West
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The new 2010‐2011 curriculum of RE&H; looking back and ahead. 1. Origins and start Officially the Department of RE&H started in September 1992, with one of the main reasons being the demand from professional practice for a broader study profile at the Faculty of Architecture of Delft University of Technology (DUT). In the report of a Review committee (the so called “Verkenningscommissie”) was stated that the school did not sufficiently respond to the market situation. This was based on the fact that at that time 80‐90% of the students finished their studies in the field of design while less than 50% of them actually got a job as an architect or urban designer. The committee formulated task profiles, one of them being ‘project and process manager’. In the period that followed the Faculty of Architecture of DUT explicitly made the choice for a broad educational profile which resulted in a new profile ‘Real Estate & Project management’. A little bit later the Department of Real Estate & Project management (‘Bouwmanagement & Vastgoedbeheer’ BMVB) was founded. 2. The Department’s first curriculum (1992‐2001) Due to the perseverance of initial staff members and the enthusiasm of the first students and participating professionals from practice the new Department of BMVB grew rapidly. Initially the program was mostly economic and cost based and constructed from modules taken from the existing Architects curriculum and the faculties of ‘Civil Engineering’ and ‘Philosophy and Social Sciences’. However, already in its first year the Department rapidly developed its own specific graduation program. The Comb Characteristic of this first curriculum of BMVB is its interrelatedness with Arcitecture, Urbanism, Technology and Social Housing in the so‐called combination‐modules (AM, BM, MV, MS). Besides these combination modules the Department had its own specialized core modules (M1‐4) each representative of the managerial aspects of one specific phase of the real estate life cycle: Initiative, Preparation, Construction and Use. The core modules had an emphasis on the acquisition of knowledge, the combination modules an emphasis on insight and skills. Simulation games were used to train students in very realistic settings. This program, that was based on three months periods, is often referred to as ‘The Comb’ (see figure 1). In fact there was in this initial period an undivided five year program, consisting of a two year generic design training and a three year specialization in five tracks of which Real Estate & Project management was one. This was vital to the profile of a design based management curriculum. In the first years the program attracted so many students that it rapidly became the second largest program in the school.


Figure 1: The Departments first educational program: the ‘comb structure’.

3. The Department’s second curriculum; Introducing the BSc/MSc structure From 1999 the Department was forced to a quick adaptation to the new Bachelor‐Master structure (BaMa): the EU Lisbon agreement wanted a EU harmonisation of educational systems that would facilitate international exchange of students. This entailed introducing a new diploma structure as well as a new semester based curriculum. More or less at the same time the Department of Housing merged with the Department of Real Estate and Project management (BMVB). Three new themes were added to the curriculum: Design Management (as an articulated part of Design & Construction Management ‐ DCM), Urban Area Development (as part of Real Estate Management ‐ REM) and Housing (H). The change to the BSc‐MSc system also entailed change from a system of a two year base program with a three year specialization into a three year BSc program followed by a two year specialization leading to a MSc degree. The second curriculum Leading principles for this new curriculum were to strengthen its scientific base, providing a program in which students must orientate along the full width of the domain, but must also have enough possibilities to specialize themselves. Problem‐oriented learning was introduced and the time schedule was based on semesters. The broad orientation was given in semester 1, specialization (intended to be foremost skills based) into one of the three main focus areas in semester 2, and a laboratory based individual research graduation project in semesters 3 and 4. In 2002 the new program, as depicted in figure 4, was implemented for the first time. The Master curriculum had to be offered in English from that time on.


Figure 4: The curriculum of RE&H after the BaMa reorganization.

4. The Department’s third curriculum starting 2010/2011. In 2008 it was decided to start with the development of a new MSc curriculum. The main reasons to develop a new curriculum were: - Fragmentation and reduction in manageability and quality assurance of the existing curriculum. - Stronger demands from practice as well as the international research arena, to have more focus on integrating capabilities. This was caused by the fact that both in terms of research interests as well as demands from practice, broad professionals with an ability to integrate were becoming more important. - A need for more in depth knowledge acquisition, more specifically on the separate knowledge areas of the curriculum without losing the broad focus on the domain of RE&H as a whole. The main challenge for the new curriculum was to come up with a structure, which provided better balanced opportunities for both integration and specialization. - The development towards a higher scientific level in the MSc graduation process. - The transition to an international profile with a more explicit accent on professional profiles, as well as an articulation as being ‘the educational institution par excellence which provides managerial education for all those with a broader BSc in architecture, building, construction, environmental and real estate sciences. - Attracting more international students. - The financial feasibility and efficiency of the education. 3/5

5. The new 2010/2011 curriculum. The new developed curriculum has started in the educational year 2010‐2011 and is based on the ‘drivers for change’ discussed above. Figure 5 gives an overview.

Figure 5: The new 2010/2011 curriculum of RE&H.

The first and second semester In depth knowledge of the core domains of RE&H is the essence of the first year of the new curriculum. This is caused by the mission of the department to integrate the various core subjects and to provide students with a broad knowledge of the whole domain of RE&H. In the first semester emphasis is placed knowledge acquisition, more specifically on general management knowledge (for instance from project to portfolio and program management, general management, governance, policy, leadership, teambuilding and team behavior) which is valid for all focus areas of RE&H. In the second semester the program focuses on skills acquisition. Students gain skills by experiencing practice roles and by describing, analyzing, researching and improving practice based professional behaviour. The third and fourth semester At this point no big adjustments have been made to the second year of the MSc RE&H. The main idea is to provide room for students to come up with an


individual research proposal in the third semester combined with a course on research methods and free electives. The fourth semester is still totally focused on the individual graduation research project of the student. In this semester the student has two mentors who guide him through the process of graduation. However, in some specific situations a third mentor with specific knowledge can be appointed. Research driven education The RE&H Department takes research driven education seriously. Graduates are not the research assistants of the staff members, but students who want to qualify in a specific research area are guided by the Department’s experienced academic researchers, who are able to assist students to qualify in academic research. Synergy between the work of staff and students is key, while most students do their thesis work connected to practical issues with public and private organizations. Efficiency constraints of the new curriculum The Department continues offering the educational program of semester 1 and 2 only once a year. As the first semester provides essential knowledge to be able to follow the second semester successfully, it is not possible to subscribe to the second semester without having followed the first. For students who are not able to start the RE&H program in September, a sub‐ optimal alternative is offered. Students might want to consider following courses abroad or fulfilling a period in practice before starting studying at RE&H. Alternative individual studying routes can be discussed with the responsible RE&H MSc Coordinator. 6. Looking back and ahead Although there are numerous adaptations over time in terminology and focus areas, the basic and proven philosophy of the Department considering its educational mission did not drastically change since its establishment. By providing a program that explicitly starts and ends with professional profiles, with a strong focus on integration, fundamentals and academic quality, the Department is determined to offer a distinguished program for all those with a bachelor in architecture, building, construction, environmental and real estate sciences a polytechnic or academic background, who would like to complement their basic knowledge of the domain with an extensive broad managerial MSc course, aiming at the top of applied knowledge on excellent leadership to add value to the built environment.. Dr. ir. Matthijs Prins (MSc coordinator as of 2001), Prof. ir. H. de Jonge (Head of department from 1992 until 2006), Prof. dr. ir. J.W.F. Wamelink (Head of department as of 2006). This article is a summary of a more extensive article that was published in the BOSS magazine in July 2010. (BOSS Magazine nr. 39 (p. 60‐65), 2010, BOSS, Delft)