Enhancing the Learning Environment

Enhancing the Learning Environment

The program provides a wide variety of opportunities to augment students' formal education experience. These opportunities include internships, research grants, and off-campus studies such as field trips, vertical studios, study abroad and other forms of supported travel. Among the various instructional procedures, there are several that are particularly characteristic of this program: Modules Week, field trips, study abroad and exchange programs, and integration of the undergraduate and graduate program and other disciplines.


Located in the Los Angeles Region in Southern California, students have opportunities to participate in landscape architecture practice while they are still in school. A large number of students work part time in design and planning firms, public planning agencies, environmental and resource protection NGOs and for private clients. While students can always seek internship opportunities by themselves in the region and beyond, the department maintains relationships with regional landscape architecture organizations such as the ASLA Southern California chapter, and many regional and local landscape design firms, agencies and clients. The department also receives requests from a number of firms, agencies, and clients for student interns. Students are informed of such opportunities and encouraged to apply. Moreover, part-time or adjunct faculty members who work off campus often introduce internship opportunities to students. The department offers an internship course that can be used for credit towards the degree.


Field Opportunities

Extensive field study has been a vital component of the curriculum for years. Students study natural, cultural and social processes, as well as witness notable works of design and planning in a number of venues. Many times during their studies students can participate in week-long field trips. Examples of such field trips include visiting an urban center in a first tier city in one of the western states or visiting a distinctive natural area. Examples include San Francisco, Phoenix, Seattle, and Portland and so on. These field trips offer an immersion in a specific location, which provides information to support a comparison with the Los Angeles region and its ecosystem.

These extensive field studies are complimented by a number of day trips within the Los Angeles region and Southern California region. Many courses in the program, especially studios, provide opportunities for students to participate in day-long field trips to examine study sites and collect on site information relevant to the issues that they are examining in specific courses. Terminal project field trips often involve travel to urban areas, coastal zones, desert, agricultural land, and mountain areas within the state and beyond.


Vertical Studios

In 2001, Modules Week was launched by the department to enhance both the undergraduate and graduate programs by offering specialized, intensive courses that provide additional instruction in newly emerging areas or areas needing reinforcement in the curriculum. Modules Week is an annual tradition every spring to allow vertical integration of both undergraduate and graduate students in intensive, one-week courses on specialized topics within the discipline. Courses are taught by a mixture of Cal Poly Pomona faculty and invited guests with various academic and professional backgrounds and thus are able to provide interdisciplinary knowledge and experience to students. In the past, a number of notable academics and practitioners with landscape architecture and related disciplines have participated as instructors, including Dr. Todd Jennings, Grant Jones, Carol Mayer Reed, Professor Brett Peters, Dr. Bob Scarfo, Dr. Joanne Westphal, among others. While some of the courses offered during Modules Week are held in the campus studio environment, many instructors bring topic studios to off-campus sites and integrate field trips as a critical part of the vertical studio experience.


Study Abroad and Exchange Programs

The Italy Program is another valuable opportunity for students in the program to obtain off campus, especially international, experience pertinent to art, architecture, landscape, and sustainable development. It also immerses students in a congruent physical scenario to Southern California: Italy has a Mediterranean climate. With the physical setting as a control, students can assess cultural differences in planning and design through their experiences and investigations. The comparison encourages reflection upon cultural values in Los Angeles germane to landscape planning and design.

The 2010 program is the eighteenth session of the program since its establishment. Participants include Cal Poly Pomona, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and UC Davis. Students live and study at the Santa Chiara Study Center in Castiglion Fiorentino, which is about fifty miles southeast of Florence in the Tuscany region. To allow more students to enroll in the program, financial support from discretionary funds and department travel scholarships have been made available to some students to cover part of their expenses.

The program also has a fledgling program in France. This program is an intensive two-week immersion into the contemporary landscape, architecture, urbanism and art of France and Western Europe. This program is also working on establishing exchange opportunities with schools in France.

The program has a long-established faculty and student exchange program with the Kyushu Institute of Design in Japan. A number of students in the program have participated over the years.

The College of ENV has also developed a summer interdisciplinary study abroad program in China. This program includes landscape architecture, architecture and planning. A primary feature of the experience is an intensive studio with North China University.

In addition to the programs above, the University has established international exchange programs with universities in a number of countries, including Canada, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Japan and Mexico.

The programs outlined above not only provide international study opportunities for our students, but also bring students from other countries into our courses here at Cal Poly, enhancing the multicultural atmosphere of our program.


Community Service Learning

The program has a long history of emphasizing community service projects as case studies for studio inquiry and other courses. In the tradition of Cal Poly's "learn by doing" philosophy, students frequently engage real-world problems in studio, often in the context of serving communities in need. The university has an official designation for service-learning courses through the Center for Community Service-Learning. A number of the program's courses are routinely designated as service-learning courses and many more informal community engagement projects are pursued in core and elective courses. In all cases, these courses incorporate opportunities for student reflection on their service experience as a means of fostering civic and social responsibility. Such reflections also frequently offer an opportunity to assess courses in terms of their achievement of learning objectives.



The department awards more than $20,000 in scholarships annually. Many of these awards go to fund individual travel, independent community service or independent study projects.

The program provides several in-house scholarships to support student travel within the United States and overseas to explore natural, cultural, and social systems. Our scholarship program also supports independent student itineraries and international studies.


ENV Career Day

ENV Career Day is the primary means of connecting students with potential internships. This program is run through the dean's office and is operated and coordinated by students of the departments of ENV.


LA 499 Special Topics + LA 400 Independent Study

The department offers a number of independent studies and special topics courses each year. These courses often deal with different areas of study or research that fall outside the existing curriculum. These courses have ranged from construction projects to facilitating the development of personal landscape manifestos.


Integration of the Undergraduate and Graduate Program and Other Disciplines

The undergraduate and graduate programs benefit from a mutually cooperative learning environment. During the third year of the design sequence, undergraduates are joined by graduate students enrolled in the first-professional degree program, for LA 302 and LA 303. Additional interaction is gained through the Italy program, history courses, MODULES and other electives. This pattern of shared course work is mutually beneficial for graduate and undergraduate students. It exposes the graduate students to technical skills and affords the undergraduate students access to a broader range of disciplinary knowledge.

Students from horticulture and landscape architecture also come together annually to compete in the planet student Career Days. This is a 3-day event of competitions ranging from design to landscape truck and trailer driving.