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Recognizing Daniel E. Wueste, Ph.D. Clemson University Center for Ethics

By Ramiro Solórzano, Assoc. AIA
Manger, CES Provider Audits

June 25, 2013

I have had the pleasure of working with Dr. Daniel E. Wueste who is our primary point of contact for Clemson University Center for Ethics. Dr. Wueste does full day course on professional ethics in Architecture. The course is taught at Clemson University where there is a great opportunity to offer this seminar to emerging professionals. The session is done in partnership with the South Carolina Board of Architectural Examiners, members of the board with Clemson University students. One of the fun things I do at the AIA CES is Provider Recognition on their best practices so that the AIA CES and our Providers can embody those best practices. I followed up with Dr. Wueste to ask him about his well sought-out course and his contribution to the profession.

Can you describe how your course is designed, who is your target audience?

“We do the seminars in collaboration with the South Carolina Board of Architectural Examiners (more about this below), so the target audience is architects licensed to practice in South Carolina. The Board has asked us to include students whenever possible, so when we do a seminar in the Upstate, at or near Clemson University, which is home to the School of Architecture in South Carolina, or Charleston, where the University has an Architecture Center, graduate students in architecture are included as well.

The seminar is an all-day affair. It is designed to be interactive and user-friendly. The day is divided into four 90-minute sessions; 15-minute breaks separate the two sessions in the morning and in the afternoon. One hour is scheduled for lunch. Fifteen minutes are set aside for wrap-up and formal evaluation.

We begin with a panel session. Drawing on their professional experience (and discussions with the instructors prior to the seminar), each member of a panel of three respected South Carolina architects presents a case and discusses it in light of applicable South Carolina law and relevant ethical considerations, such as elements of the AIA code. The panelists interact with each other and the seminar participants. In the next session, picking up on key points from the panel discussion, Professors Wueste and Satris of the Rutland Institute for Ethics, present and explain what we call a toolbox approach to ethical decision making. The session is interactive; the principles (i.e., the tools in the toolbox) emerge from consideration of cases. The theoretical basis of the principles is explained briefly, in a user-friendly way, highlighting linkages to the SC Registration Law and the AIA code. After lunch there is a bit of Q&A and review, and a lively interactive presentation by Ms. Jan Simpson, Administrator, South Carolina Board of Architectural Examiners; SC Board of Professional Engineers and Surveyors; SC Board of Landscape Architectural Examiners. After a break, we move into small group breakout sessions devoted to case studies that provide opportunities to apply the toolbox approach. The panelists and Ms. Simpson facilitate these breakout sessions; Wueste and Satris move among them to observe and help if need be. The breakout sessions are followed by a plenary session in which one of the seminar participants from each small group presents a very brief report of the group’s findings (answers to questions associated with each case) followed by brief discussion which often includes questions from other participants about the group’s findings.”

During your course how do you engage your audience? Is your “toolbox” approach an effective way to teach?

“Yes, I think that it is. Engagement is critical for two reasons. First, because it’s important that participants have a sense of ownership regarding the “tools.” That will happen if the tools arrive on the table, so to speak, not as things delivered by a “sage on the stage” whose delivery method is a lecture, but as considerations that emerge in discussion of a problem or challenge, as things that they bring to bear on the matter —things that they bring to the table. Over the years we have found that the sense of ownership we’re hoping for is a predictable result of getting at the tools by engaging participants in discussion. Second, mastery in the use of a tool requires practice. To this point, we have found no better way to practice using these tools than participation in discussion of cases that present opportunities to use them. Perhaps there is another way, but we haven’t figured out what that might be. “

Can you please elaborate on the value of dialogue between ethical professional architects, Board of Architectural Examiners, and architectural students?

“I think any opportunity to interact with professional architects is valuable for architecture students, but especially with regard to professional ethics. It’s a good thing that students hear about ethics in the context of their academic work. However, the message that ethics is a critical element of professional practice is much more effectively conveyed to aspiring architects by men and women who speak with the authoritative voice of someone who has ‘been there, done that.’ All the more when the message emerges as they interact with architects in the discussion of cases —where they can see that these professionals recognize and take very seriously the ethical dimension(s) of architectural practice. In the other direction, the energy and excitement of students can remind architects, who may be “world weary,” of late nights in the studio when they were sure that the world could be a better place and that they were acquiring the knowledge and skill to make that happen.”

Do you have future plans to develop courses using other methods?

“The Rutland Institute is working with the Greenville Hospital System (Upstate South Carolina) and the new University of South Carolina School of Medicine that welcomed its first class to the GHS campus in July 2012. We have learned some things in doing this work, in particular strategies for case discussions, that we may be able to tailor for use with architects. We have given some thought to online courses, but, frankly, because we fear that it wouldn’t be possible to replicate the lively interaction that we believe is critical in working with the “toolbox approach” we’re not “all in” with online learning. We are, however, exploring mixed modes.

What are your practices with course development? How do you refine/change your courses based on new research or technology?

The refinements we have made are the result of suggestions we have received from participants in the (pen and paper) evaluations they complete at the end of a seminar and discussions with the administrator and members of the SC Board of Architectural Examiners. As I indicated above, we are learning from the work we are doing with the med school faculty and, in some measure, the first-year medical students we have been working with. There is some very interesting research in behavioral economics as well as moral psychology that we expect will inform our work going forward.”

In conclusion, I really enjoyed interviewing Dr. Wueste. Learning about the challenges of his program and meeting the challenges head-on and making it a successful session. The quality of his course greatly contributes to the profession and engages emerging professionals for a great start to life-long learning. I would like to thank Dr. Wueste for his contribution to this article and for sharing with me her challenges and successes to the AIA CES.


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