The History/Theory curriculum of the GSAPP stresses a broad social and cultural approach to architectural discourse. Architectural history is not seen primarily as stylistic evolution, but rather as the consequence of a complex interaction between artistic, socio-economic, technological and ideological vectors. Most instructors of architecture history at GSAPP have both professional and academic degrees. The overall intent is to place the relationship between theory and practice in a broad historical perspective.
The course offerings are structured to provide students with an opportunity to acquire a general overview of contemporary architectural history and, at the same time, a degree of specialized knowledge in areas of their own choosing. Where the former is dealt with through a required lecture sequence, the latter is met through specialized seminars. The architecture history classes within the GSAPP are supplemented by classes in the Department of Art History and Archaeology. In this regard, students are especially encouraged to take art history courses examining pre-1750 and non-Western topics. Students may also take courses in other departments of the University, such as history and philosophy, providing they meet basic distribution requirements of the GSAPP program.