Innovation in Undergraduate Education


Among the various instructional procedures, there are several that are particularly characteristic of this program: Modules Week, field trips, study abroad and exchange programs, the integration of information technology and integration with the Graduate Program and other disciplines.



In 2001, the Department offered its first ¡°Modules Week¡± which has become an annual tradition every spring. This is a week-long program which offers students the opportunity to study emerging trends in landscape architecture which may not fit well into the program¡¯s core curriculum. Module courses are vertically integrated, combining undergraduate and graduate students in all years of the program. Courses are taught by a mixture of Cal Poly Pomona faculty and invited guests. 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, and Dr. Joanne Westphal.



Extensive field study has been a vital component of the curriculum for years. Students study natural, cultural and social processes, as well as witness several notable works of design in a number of venues, including Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada, Santa Barbara, San Diego, a transect through Arizona and San Francisco. These extensive field studies are complimented by a number of day trips within the Los Angeles region and include numerous visits to practitioner offices.



The Department of Landscape Architecture has integrated an international study program¡ªestablished by Phil Pregill at the Santa Chiara Study Center in Castiglion Fiorentino, Italy¡ªinto the regular curriculum. Each fall, seniors have the opportunity to complete required course work for Senior Design, elective courses, and Senior Seminar. In this way 12 to 18 students per year are immersed in European culture, history, and design. This has proven to be an enriching (even life-changing) experience. The students typically are involved in intensive regional landscape planning studies of the Val di Chio for regional agency of Castiglion Fiorentino.

In addition to the Italy program, the University has established international exchange programs with Universities in a number of countries, including Canada, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Japan and Mexico. Most notably, a faculty and student exchange program has been established with Kyushu Institute of Design in Japan, in which a number of students in the program have participated in recent years. These programs not only provide international study opportunities for our students, but also bring students from other countries into our courses here at Cal Poly, thus enhancing the multicultural atmosphere of our program.



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. Since the last accreditation, the University has instituted an official designation for service-learning courses through the recently established Center for Community Service-Learning. A number of the program courses are routinely designated as service-learning courses, including the senior design studio sequence (LA 401/402/403) and planting design (LA 341/342). These courses are required to incorporate opportunities for student reflection on their service experience, as a means for fostering civic responsibility. Such reflections also frequently offer an opportunity to assess courses in terms o their achievement of learning objectives. In addition to officially designated service-learning projects, a number of informal community engagement projects are pursued in core and elective courses within the program.



The undergraduate program benefits from the companionship of a well-developed graduate program in landscape architecture. 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 and other electives, as well as the proximity of studio spaces, clustered around the Boltz Courtyard. This pattern of shared course work is mutually beneficial to graduate and undergraduate students. It exposes the graduate student to technical skills the undergraduates develop and affords the undergraduate student access to a broader range of disciplinary knowledge than would be the case in entirely separate programs.

In addition to interaction with the graduate program, exposure to other disciplines is provided through the College¡¯s multidisciplinary basic design courses ENV 101 and ENV 115. These courses are for students in Architecture, Landscape Architecture and Urban and Regional Planning. The intent is to provide a shared foundation in visual thinking and design and a greater awareness of the contribution of each of the design disciplines.