Landscape Architecture News

While the virus has challenged all of us at the university to just do the things we do, everyone is doing their best to keep our community together and keep moving forward in new and positive directions. The faculty and advising staff have enjoyed our new ‘Lunch on the Lawn’ sessions that allow a safely conducted opportunity for all the students in each cohort to get together in person. I am planning to continue these post COVID because they are a chance to find out a bit more about our students, and them to find out about each other. As a small program, it is much easier to hold and manage these events and make them meaningful to everyone, particularly when some if not all of our students are taking their classes online.

On a personal level, I have learned how to generate VidGrid presentations, however I have yet to truly find my video screen presence. Plus, my new Walcom pad takes some getting used to, especially with coordinating the image on screen with the place I am drawing. I’m also discovering new and different ways to use our canvas teaching platforms. So far, I’ve found discussion group breakout rooms to be interesting, now if it were possible to watch all the rooms at the same time, that would be great. I did not plan, at this point in my career, to have to relearn how to teach and communicate with my students, but here we are. It is a kind of Brave New World for me, and this world is causing great distress to my eyesight as I continue to try and read all the small type in various ZOOM presentations.

Still despite these challenges, we are also squeezing in time to think about our future and continue to build partnerships. We believe our small size, interdisciplinary composition, collaborative spirit and international interests are the strengths of the Landscape Architecture Program. In addition, urbanism has a growing presence in the landscape architecture faculty, and we believe this will be something that will develop in conjunction with planning and architecture. At our recent Professional Advisory Committee meeting one comment has stuck with me as we continue our move forward. The notion put forward was, we will be forever changed by the current pandemic situation. Some things will return to something close to pre-pandemic conditions, but other things are certain to change. These ‘things’ are perhaps difficult to grasp, as we are scrambling through these times. I am, however, grateful for the prompt to make a conscious effort to try and get our arms around those things that are going to change and make us better. Thank you Tom Chastain and other PAC members for your insightful suggestions. If you have any thoughts about this, I would be happy to hear back from you.

-Mark Hoistad