Topics: Immersive Learning, College of Architecture and Planning

January 3, 2007

Thirty-three students and two faculty members in Ball State's College of Architecture and Planning are making the world their classroom through POLYARK 17.

Architecture professor Rod Underwood and landscape architecture professor Leslie Smith — co-directors of the tour — have developed the program from a short, one-country study to a global trek.

"Rod is actually the originator of this style of intense immersion education," Smith said. "He started this full-semester multicultural global study as a teaching model in 2000."     

The biennial tour, which departed Jan. 3, will lead the group through Spain, Italy, Egypt, China and about 20 other countries as they see firsthand some of the greatest architecture, landscape architecture and urban planning projects in the world.

They will document their studies in sketchbooks and journals that will be added to a Web site during the voyage.

"The students' coursework is inextricably woven into an intense day-by-day itinerary visiting places, spaces, design professionals, buildings, gardens and vernacular environments that are urban, rural and natural," Underwood said. "They will be using the world as their classroom to actuate more sustainable environments."

Anyone interested in following the journey can log onto  The tour will finish in April.

By Jody Kress