This evening was a wonderful example of how student voices matter. The Landscape Architecture department, in looking to the future of the curriculum, called a townhall to discuss how to better the program. At the townhall students heard from Chair Richard Weller about weaknesses in the past, current weaknesses, and unique opportunities to expand.
Some of the key notes were a need to focus more on planting vs grading, on theories role in other classes, and the role of modern case studies in informing students base knowledge. Overall the curriculum is structured to cover a span of project types, small to large scale, a variety of tools and structures of design, and to holistically cover the knowledge needed to be a landscape architect. The recap, the self analysis, the note that this curriculums core has been nearly the same for 60 odd years led right into the question. What do you, as students, think are areas in which we can improve? How can we revamp the curiculum again while holding to the good core of it?
This promptly led to all students present, I’d estimate about 60 people, with pizza slices in hand, spliting into groups of 15 to discuss the curriculum, classes, general structure of the school, and resources we should be using more.
In my groups discussion we covered each year 500 to 700 focusing on support classes for studio like Sally’s ecology-workshop class, media 4 and workshop 4 cross collaborating on some elements, replacing workshop 4 with a landscape detailing class currently an elective, the order of studio topics with the 600 year, the structured versus free set up of studios and their order, the need for more hands on project development, small assignments versus large projects in learning technical skills, and the need for more pre instruction or orientation for international/2 year students. There were certainly many, many more topics discussed with perspectives from students from current 500’s to 700 dual degrees in their 4th year.
At the end the community agreed having a townhall once a semester to continue to adjust the program would be beneficial. All group notes were collected by student representatives to be typed up and given to the Chair Richard Weller to consider before the next faculty meeting.
It is heartening to see a department so open to self reflection and to listen to student opinion. They department really cares to continue to do well through adjustments to the curriculum. It’s nice to know as well that this sort of feedback, given through student reps on a monthly basis is taken into consideration and handled so quickly! Some of the complaints of 700’s had already been addressed in the years below and discussions today were able to review the success of it and further refinement. The landscape department is clearly commited to success through a democratic process of critique and adjustment.
Not so much can be said of the architecture department. The few town halls I have heard of through rumor were not said to have been productive. Certainly I did not recieve a single email notice of them. Being a dual degree I believe my opinion matters in both fields and am a little annoyed that getting any news from architecture is harder than it needs to be. Maybe this year I will finally get notice of an architecture townhall, hopefully schedule to enable attendance.
For now, I am thankful for the caring department of Landscape Architecture and look forward to the adjustments and revised curriculum to come!