Zombie Books, Research Demands, & Communities of Practice

On the problem of pursuing active research within the design orineted diciplines and fostering the much needed research in the field of Landscape architecture, whcih is largely non-existent here in South African Landscape Architecture academia, where even the oldest landscape architecture program, at the University of Pretoria, is under threat of closure due to lack of support from government and industry , from praxislandarch come suggestions of how LA faculties might take part in new ways of communicating and collaborating through “Communities of Practice” …

Zombies? Well, you’ll have to read past the break for those! Until then, some rather dry … that is, critically important … discussion of research in landscape architecture.  : )

Practitioners in the academy are often an awkward fit. Professional education (e.g., landscape architecture) sits alongside natural science, social science, and humanities disciplines in university settings, and yet the culture of academic programs in the professions can differ sharply from the rest of the campus. Longer hours spent in studio classes, more time spent on outreach/service to communities, and research focused on applied problems are typical differences for faculty in professional design programs. Research productivity differences between practice-oriented faculty and faculty in other academic disciplines can be significant. On university campuses across the U.S., there is increasing demand by administrators for greater research output by all academic units, and these demands have created consternation in some landscape architecture circles. How do we maintain the traditional culture of professional education in landscape architecture and also begin to resemble more our research colleagues in natural science, social science, or the humanities?

The answer for some landscape architecture academics has been to adopt the research strategies of either natural science, social science, or the humanities, in some cases aided by Ph.D.s in a traditional research discipline. Urban and regional planning programs are largely populated with Ph.D.s in political science, economics, and other social sciences (usually with a lawyer thrown in for good measure), but with few faculty who have ever practiced planning. Could that be the future of landscape architecture education too?  For some clues to another possible future,

Creating a strong community of practice

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