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Travel scholarships change perspectives


Huddled over his sketchpad, Justin listened intently as renowned artist and UW Professor Emeritus Francis Ching opened students’ eyes to new ways of zeroing in on the most remarkable architectural details worth capturing in his drawing of the Pantheon.

“He wasn’t teaching us how to draw or sketch,” Justin says. “He was teaching us how to see.”

The 10-week travel studio in Rome led by Department of Architecture Chair Brian McLaren stands out as one of the most formative experiences Justin had as a master’s student in architecture at the UW. He’s grateful for the donor-supported scholarships that made the trip possible for him and many other students.

“I never would’ve been able to go if it hadn’t been for my scholarship,” says Justin, who now works as a sustainable design specialist at the Seattle architecture firm GGLO.

Because of limited private funding, some students don’t get these amazing opportunities.

“Every student should have access to these leading-edge experiences,” says Professor McLaren. “The lessons you learn when you venture outside your culture, your comfort zones — they’re invaluable.”
Standing in the City Center of Copenhagen, Joel Miller never would have guessed that a network of beautifully spacious public squares used to be four-lane roads.


Forty years ago, thick traffic jams clogged streets throughout the Danish capital. Today, Copenhagen reigns as one of the most pedestrian- and bike-friendly cities on the planet.

Joel and other students could have learned about it in a classroom lecture or textbook. But during a study abroad trip funded by our generous partners at the Scan Design Foundation, they got to see, hear and really experience answers to their questions about how and why it all happened.

“It was incredibly inspiring to see both how a city could transform like that, and how they pulled it off while facing a lot of the same civic obstacles that we see today in the United States,” Joel says.

Returning to the UW, Joel applied lessons learned in Copenhagen to his travel studio project: a bold proposal to transform the heart of Seattle’s University District with more people-friendly spaces.