Rhetoric hits home

November 26, 2004

I never thought I could ever buy into George W. Bush's petty rhetoric on old and new worlds. But Cambridge University's approach to its struggling department of architecture makes me wonder.

After scrapping two MPhil courses last month, it now recommends closure of the whole programme - for financial expedience and because of a lower grade in the research assessment exercise. As an alumnus, I am appalled, not so much because of the loss of the world-class tradition represented by leading scholars, but the narrow mindedness.

While old Cambridge may be recklessly losing its assets, the new Cambridge in Massachusetts is passionately debating the role design will play in the 21st century, with the growing need for interdisciplinary problem-solving and the booming economy of the "creative classes".

Carlo Ratti
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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