Welcome to Architectural Lighting's first education issue. This is an exciting endeavor for the publication as it brings together important resource listings in a single presentation and gives voice to students and young professionals, members of the lighting community not often the subject of such concentrated review.
It is a good time to be a student of lighting design. There are a variety of academic programs to start one's training, and there is an abundance of openings in lighting design firms across the country. In fact, there isn't a lighting designer I speak with, both in and outside the United States, who does not comment on the shortage of new graduates, a sentiment expressed with particular fervor at this year's Town Hall Meeting during the IALD Annual Education Conference in Montréal.
So how then do you educate for lighting? There are as many responses to this question as there are possibilities. Although the question originally was posed thinking in terms of formal academic study, it also was thinking in terms of lighting's rich history and the many avenues, particularly theater, from which the discipline in part has emerged. But it is clear that there needs to be a foundation of information and a core set of skills unique to lighting that individuals receive whether it be through formal or informal means. The variety and nuances of educational approaches is eloquently discussed in this issue's industry exchange question (p. 84) by some of today's leading educators representing lighting programs throughout the United States.
Which leads me to my next point. We have attempted to cover a lot of ground in this first compilation of educational resources—lighting programs, competitions, grants, and lighting centers—available for students, educators, and practitioners alike. In making this first pass and trying to neatly organize the information into a category structure we have kept our focus primarily within North America and Europe—our principal readership base. But lighting is a global endeavor. There are resources worldwide and there are sure to be things we missed (both here at home and abroad). As always, this is where we rely on you to let us know what else is out there. Going forward, as this education issue develops into an annual undertaking, our goal is to expand our coverage to be as comprehensive as possible and include international educational resources as well.
Architectural lighting design is still a relatively young discipline. That there are now 11 academic programs at both the undergraduate and graduate level (see “Lighting Education Program Survey,” p. 21) worldwide is an accomplishment, and through, for example, the IALD Education Trust and the Nuckolls Fund for Lighting Education, a significant amount of money has been raised providing student scholarships and funding for educators and academic programs. But there is always more that can be done, and the need for financial support will never go away.
Another equally crucial form of support for lighting design education that often is overlooked is time. The design fields have always had a strong tradition of the teacher-practitioner. The ability of the working professional to share their insight and knowledge from practical experience is an invaluable resource for students and young designers. Every effort must be made to provide practitioners the time to engage with students and lighting programs within and perhaps even beyond their local communities. Whether it is to sit in on design reviews, present a lecture, or teach a class, this allocation of time is as valuable as any monetary amount.
Information is only one part of the equation in this education issue; the other component is student work. In what I believe is a first for a lighting design publication, the work of students and young professionals is the focus of our entire feature-well. The selection of projects represents the variety of academic design programs and the range of lighting design explorations underway today.
The topic of lighting education is a huge undertaking, but it is one that Architectural Lighting magazine believes is critical to the evolution of the profession. With the growing interest in lighting design and the awareness of its vital role in the design process, there is no better time to begin this focused discussion.