Inspiration versus Plagiarism: Academic Integrity in Architectural Education

By Magda Mostafa.

Published by The International Journal of the Constructed Environment

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Academic integrity is fundamental to the quality of education in its role in producing ethical graduates, morally capable of becoming productive members of the professional workforce. The definitions and principles of academic integrity have become clarified and globalized in the past few years. Some disciplines however, due to their creative nature, may require a customized set of definitions, standards and practices. Fields of design and creative arts fall within this category. Architecture is one such discipline. As a field of study which encourages students to consider design precedent, adopt certain styles and be influenced by great works, it becomes difficult to separate inspiration from plagiarism. The abundance of readily available information as well as the relative ease and high speed by which ICT brings information to the end user makes unethical practices of plagiarism all the easier. Lack of awareness, as well as the ambiguity of preventive measures in the field, adds to the acuity of the problem.

This paper will address the issue of plagiarism in architectural education through the presentation of a design studio pedagogical case study at the Architectural Engineering Program at the American University in Cairo. Over the past few years this studio has developed and adopted a strategy for instilling understanding, and consequently respect, of the design process, called design “beyond style”. The impetus of this approach is that, by critically understanding the language of architectural precedent- with its vocabulary, syntax and grammar- an architect is better placed to speak in a voice that is at once his own, yet echoes style, character and conforms to context- without emulation- and without resorting to plagiarism. This discussion will hopefully provide a basis for developing architecture specific approaches to addressing plagiarism in education, which will carry through to the professional realm.

Keywords: Architecture, Education, Academic Integrity, Plagiarism, Design Pedagogy

The International Journal of the Constructed Environment, Volume 1, Issue 3, pp.85-100. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.202MB).

Dr. Magda Mostafa

Assistant Professor, Department of Construction and Architectural Engineering, American University in Cairo, Cairo, Cairo, Egypt

Magda Mostafa, PhD is currently an Associate Professor at the Construction and Architectural Engineering at the American University in Cairo. Her research interests include Architectural Education and Special Needs Design. She has received various awards including the International Award for Excellence in the Design Field in 2008 and was nominated for the 2005 UNESCO Prize for Research and Training in Special Needs Education for Children. She has published various papers and article in the National Autistic Society’s Communication magazine, ArchNet-IJAR and Open House International and is currently working as a special needs design consultant at the Cairo based architectural firm Progressive Architects. She is an active member of the Union of International Architects (UIA) Commission on Architectural Education and Validation. In 2008 she was President of the UIA’s International Student Competition Jury, sat as the UIA Representative to the Jury for the Lebanese Ministry of Culture’s “House of Arts and Culture” Design Competition in 2009 and will be representing the UIA at the Velux International Student Competition in Copenhagen in June 2010.