Just ran across Urban Ethics and Theory, the blog of my friend and former colleague, Lisa Schweitzer. Brilliant, quick-witted, no BS, Lisa is just as I remember. Add her blog to your reading list, if you do not already follow her work. And, Lisa, a few feet away from where I am sitting is the Tiki cup you gave me when I last saw you – its fierce face is strangely encouraging. We’ll have to get together again soon!
Of all things, I choose this random post to pass along. Enjoy the Schweeb!
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Posted in LA Education, Landscape Research, Reflective Practice, tagged academic blogs, electronic publication, future, landscape architecture, landscape architecture education, paradigm shift, peer review, praxis, publications, research, tenure on October 1, 2011|
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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? Some clues to another possible future after the break. (more…)
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There’s an interesting post in the WorldWise blog of the Chronicle of Higher Education titled “The Power of Blogs in Forming New Fields of International Study.” It is written by Nigel Thrift, vice-chancellor of the University of Warwick, in England. Thrift has a particular interest in an emerging field of study called speculative realism, and he attributes its rise, in part at least, to communication in online communities.
The vice-chancellor identifies blogs as a primary vehicle for scholarly exchange in the emergence of speculative realism for these reasons:
First, they are a key preserve of particular communities like postgraduates and early career researchers, not least because so much activity can go on below the radar, so to speak, outside the attention of the kind of disciplinary policing that journals and other institutions tend to impose.
Second, they are a means for established figures to communicate in a different and more immediate register and often to become more prominent more quickly than might otherwise be the case.
Third, they are a much easier means of importing material from other disciplines, in ways which might be frowned upon if the material was to appear in formal outlets. ...snip…
Fourth, they allow all manner of researchers to communicate with each other, establish reading groups and the like, often concerning intellectual alleyways which might prove of the greatest importance. There is real debate.
Fifth, new material reaches an audience much more rapidly than it would through the normal means of communication.
Climate adaptation is an emergent interdisciplinary field that has the potential to grow in this manner – through informal, international discourse that is then used as the basis for more formal research and peer-reviewed publication.
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I implicitly asked for comments in the post, A Blog is a Curious Thing, and two fellow bloggers kindly responded. Donovan Gillman of the Urban Choreography blog and Jason King of Landscape + Urbanism share their thoughts on why blogs are suspect among academics and also why academics just need to get over it (my crude summary).
I love the point that Donovan makes about interesting applications of science often coming from the “crazy ideas of people who barely understand the science, but are able to creatively visualize its potential and communicate it to others.” As faculty in a college of environmental science and forestry, in the lone design program, I can REALLY identify with this statement!
Jason and Donovan both identify the root cause of academic distrust of media such as this – that it is not peer-reviewed research. It is clearly something else, but can this new something lead somewhere that we couldn’t reach in the past? Naturally, I think the answer is yes, and this opinion is partially based on my agreement that the continuum of dissemination that Jason identifies is valid/needed and partially on the unique nature of landscape architecture. More on this uniqueness in a follow-up post…
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For academics anyway. After nearly 3 months of this blog “experiment,” I find the reaction to it among academics to be curiosity and skepticism. The academic world is very conservative and has long shunned “opinion.” So blogging and social networking stretch the imagination in ways that academics find uncomfortable. I am personally excited by the possibilities, especially for landscape architecture – and for landscape architecture in the university setting. I think this media offers some interesting possibilities for linking multiple worlds – professional practice, academia, those in developing and in developed countries, etc. Outside of the university, these possibilities are well-known. I take comfort in the fact that at least one well-known Nobel Prize winner spends a little time each day blogging. Good company!
With relatively little advertising (mostly emails to people I know), this blog has received several thousand page views since it went online. That is encouraging, and I hope to keep the content frequently updated even as the hectic semester gets underway. What is less exciting is that I am finding the blog format to NOT be particularly interactive (through reader comments). It would be great if the number of comments increases over time! Otherwise, the potential of this media would seem to be more limited than it could be. I hope that readers are finding interesting and useful information here! Thank you for stopping by.
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