Doctoral students will now have the opportunity to use resources and simultaneously attend classes at the Madison and Milwaukee campuses of the University of Wisconsin System, as a result of a new “Buildings-Landscapes-Cultures” collaboration between the universities.

Students obtaining a degree in art history at UW-Madison will have the option to take concentration classes in architectural design at UW-Milwaukee, while students from UW-Milwaukee majoring in architectural design can take concentration classes in art history at UW-Madison.

“This is really about sharing resources with other institutions. It is fairly unprecedented,” said Anna Andrzejewski, UW assistant professor of art history and co-director of the Buildings-Landscapes-Cultures program. “We wanted to work collaboratively on our research, but we also wanted to work collaboratively in teaching.”

Students also have the opportunity to take common courses at either university, Andrzejewski added. The idea for the collaboration surfaced at a conference in June 2006, and efforts to make it work began in April 2007, she said.

“What is interesting about it, in university time, talking about something seriously in April 2007 and having it go through all of the channels within a year — that is pretty quick,” Andrzejewski said. “You’re dealing with two campuses and two different approvals.”

According to Arijit Sen, UW-Milwaukee assistant professor in the Department of Architecture and co-director of the Buildings-Landscapes-Cultures program, the collaboration is unique because it gives students “complete” power over their program of study, broader choices for class and faculty, and specifically designates the concentration on transcripts, which is crucial for future job interviews.

Students deciding to participate in the collaboration will still receive their degree from their home institution and will pay the tuition costs from their home institution, even if they are taking classes at the partner-school, Sen added.

“Right now, they are not bothering about [tuition]. Wherever you are (getting your degree), you are paying that tuition,” Sen said. “Somehow the universities will not mind. But, it might turn sour if there are 500 students going back and forth.”

Elaine Klein, UW assistant dean for the College of Letters and Sciences, said the program is unique because no new resources had to be created.

“We already had the academic programs, we already had courses and we already had the people who could teach those courses,” Klein said. “What we are really trying to do, in an era of constrained resources, is to make the most of what we have.”

The major issues with the program, according to Sen, include the 70-mile commute between the universities and the problem with “cohort building.”

Sen said he suggests students stay at the partner university for the semester while taking courses for their concentration. He also said the collaboration may use online learning tactics in the future.

According to Klein, other UW System schools use collaboration concentrations, including the Department of Library and Information Studies, Nursing and Communicative Disorders.

“The UW System is trying to promote more inter-institutional cooperation,” Klein said.