Research Seminar, January 25, 2013

The CUNY Center for Urban Environmental Reform, in conjunction with The New York City Urban Field Station, presents a quarterly research seminar on Friday January 25th, 2013, from 10:00 am 12:00 pm in the CUNY School of Law Faculty Lounge.

The seminar, Landscape Architecture: Re-envisioning Curriculum and Practice for 21st Century Ecosystems, features Dr. Laura Lawson (Rutgers University, Department of Landscape Architecture) and Denise Hoffman Brandt (City College, Graduate Program in Landscape Architecture). Light refreshments will be served

All are welcome. Space is limited so please RSVP at

Dr. Laura Lawson, Department of Landscape Architecture, Rutgers University. Given the complexity inherent in most contemporary urban landscape design propositions, landscape architecture curricula is as much about reflective process and perpetual learning as it is about specific areas of knowledge and technical skills. While many of us found our way into this field because it blends environmental and social sciences with art and ethics, we also face an increasingly urgent responsibility to address health, engagement, and responsible resource use. As a design discipline, we contribute a comprehensive perspective that enables us to be a vital and critical outlet for community outreach, collaboration, and creative propositions, through our courses as well as through engaged research and work with cooperative extension agents and projects. From our unique position the only professional design program in a land grant university serving the most urbanized state in the U.S. the Department of Landscape Architecture at Rutgers University is building a program that relishes in the changing role landscape architects can play to address the complex issues facing communities today and in the future. Our new Center for Urban Environmental Sustainability (CUES) promises to serve as a vehicle for interdisciplinary research and engagement projects.

Denise Hoffman Brandt, Graduate Program in Landscape Architecture, City College of New York Landscape architects should be critical voices in future discourse to reconcile social, cultural, and environmental forces into a truly urban ecological system. Curricula should embrace the current and future challenges facing the profession of landscape architecture in research, design, and planning of ecologically robust urban landscapes, and design programs should address issues of increasing globalization, expanding urbanization, environmental and social system sustainability, the promotion of social and environmental justice, the need for transformed land management practices in response to diminishing natural resources, and the mitigation and adaptation to climate change. The popular conception of cities as human constructs in an oppositional relationship to nature undermines our capacity to design ecologically viable cities. A nuanced approach to instruction in the complex interweaving of society, culture and environment in New York City urban landscapes can counter that reductive thinking. As Director of the Graduate Program in Landscape Architecture in the Bernard and Anne Spitzer School of Architecture of the City College of New York (CCNY), I have initiated reconsideration of the scope of our ecology curriculum to include not just instruction in the environmental processes that landscape architects engage in the design process, but also their reciprocity with the social forces and cultural ideas that influence urban morphology. The presentation will discuss the initiative to refocus the teaching of ecology for landscape architects at CCNY.