Re thinking foundation
The only courses that teach to develop aesthetic sense are Design and Architecture. The same content is taught almost all over the world. naturally what they 'create' are also very similar. About 15 years back Srinagar in Kashmir used to be the only city in India which still retained its cultural roots where as all the other cities had beginning to look alike. The reason being Srinagar was being built by people with no 'aesthetic education where as the other cities were being designed by the educated architects.
Step out of the cities, visit few villages and you will find very distinct aesthetic sensibilities. Village houses in Andhra, in Kutch, Himachal, Orissa, Bihar or for that matter anywhere in the world had very distinct aesthetic quality.
How did they retain their authenticity where as we the educated learned to copy?
Context is the ground for the formation of culture. Culture has direct link with aesthetic sense, creativity and the respective ecology in which people live and connect. In fact, beauty is the link that connects people to their environment. Cultural diversity has been the result of diverse aesthetic sensibilities developed in people as a result of living in diverse ecological conditions. This act of authentic living is itself act of knowledge creation.
De contextualized education and cultural distortion
Even though the architect/designer has to function in local contexts the art, design and architectural education is non-contextual. Formation of aesthetic sense has no connection to the cultural specificities of the learner. So when year after year students are subjected to a western design process and learn design through western history and western sense of aesthetics, is it any wonder that generation after generation gets estranged from their own history, culture, individual sense of beauty and their very being. This is true of all educational institutions around the world.
Rethinking foundation - first year courses
The aesthetic sense is formed by the notions/ exercises one gets during the formative years. The basic design courses, the hero worship of western designers, the history of architecture etc. instill in students’ attitudes that form their aesthetic sense.
An objective and scientific way of exposing students would help them to develop more authentic sensibilities rather than just imitation.