This letter from ASLA National Student Representative Paul Fusco appears in the latest issue of LAND Online. Please let your voice be heard by using the comment system below.
I’m sure by the time you’re reading this, most if not all of you are back on campus and ready for another challenging year of study. We are excited to learn more about this field we’ve chosen to explore, but we’re sometimes baffled by the direction our respective professors take us. In my own experience, cemeteries and death seem to be haunting me this semester. Two of my instructors have chosen these subjects for our research, design, and analysis. Timing is everything, and for me, after spending a summer watching a family member battling to stay alive and finally losing, the rituals we associate with death and dying, wakes, burials, and cemeteries are not what I was hoping to revisit back here at school.
On that note, I thought it might be interesting to open up a dialogue with my fellow landscape architectural students across the country. The field of landscape architecture encompasses so many areas of study, and I was wondering what you feel is the emphasis of your college or university program? At SUNY Environmental Science and Forestry there is a strong focus on urban design and regional planning. Of course sustainability is a hot topic and has generally always been present at a college specializing in the environmental sciences. I am also aware that individual professors’ expertise and interests can often drive a program. The passion of a professor toward a given topic can never be underestimated. At ESF we have one studio dedicated to thinking outside the box. This studio works with the key ideas and concepts of design and makes students represent them in an abstract manner. And now I guess we’re into cemeteries.
On the whole I am sure that most landscape architecture students understand the major fields that they can eventually work in. What I would like to find out, though, is your school’s focus. If through this dialogue each student chapter is able to provide a short description of the main thrust of their landscape architecture department, I think we will be able to see what other students are learning, as well as help professionals understand what kind of knowledge students have after finishing college.
In addition, I am interested in hearing from the different ASLA student chapters as to the involvement, if any, their school and professors have with planned chapter events. Do professors attend and/or support your planned programs? Do they try to incorporate chapter events into what they are doing in studio or other classes? Do they encourage student involvement and attendance at LAbash and the national annual meeting?
So let’s share. Let me know what you think.