What is praxis?
Praxis is not a word that I initially liked. Practice is much less fussy. But praxis gets to the heart of my intent here because it implies reflection upon practice and a linkage between the academic and professional worlds. Some official definitions:
Collins English Dictionary (from dictionary.com): “the practice and practical side of a profession or field of study, as opposed to the theory”
Online Etymology Dictionary (from dictionary.com): ” ‘practice, action’ (c.1255, opposite of theory ), from Gk. praxis ‘practice, action, doing,’
from stem of prassein ‘to do, to act’ ”
And three phrases from wikipedia.com that capture some of the connotations:
- “the act of engaging, applying, exercising, realizing, or practicing ideas”
- “reflection and action upon the world in order to transform it,” attributed to Freire, P. (1986) Pedagogy of the Oppressed. New York: Continuum. p. 36.
- Experiential learning; a constant cycle of conceptualizing the meanings of what can be learned from experience
“Reflection and action upon the world in order to transform it.” Designers and physical planners often seek and/or participate in landscape and community transformation. Posts in this blog explore issues related to practice and the education of future professionals in landscape architecture and physical planning (environmental and land use). The perspective is not so much about the “how to” of practice, but instead is focused on how ideas inform practice, the context in which practice occurs (current events), and ways in which practice can be enhanced through reflection, monitoring of outcomes, and so forth. No single blog post does this. Cumulatively, the posts reflect the idea of praxis.
About the author
My name is M. Margaret Bryant, and I am a landscape architecture faculty member at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF). My perspective on praxis in landscape architecture is shaped by (1) my identity as a teacher in a professional program, (2) my area of specialization in landscape/land use planning (academic and professional practice in community land use and park/open space planning), and (3) my location in New York State in the United States.
As disciplines taught in university settings, landscape architecture and allied professional programs are distinct from traditional natural and social science disciplines. Research in landscape architecture is closely tied to practice, and the intention is to act in the world and not merely observe it. Since much of what landscape architects do is experimental, reflection on our actions is essential. This blog’s purpose is to explore what praxis means, especially for academics in professional programs whose research is typically applied, tending toward practice.
Contact info: praxislandarch (at) gmail (dot) com