Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘New Normal’

In the comment section of this post on whether the economy and jobs should affect landscape architecture education (i.e., lead to changes in curricula or program emphasis), Chris asks who should sound the call for change and mentions professional organizations and clients as possibilities. While not a total laissez-faire believer, I do have a healthy respect for market forces. Market forces in higher education originate with students who have interests in particular subjects and perhaps a sense of demand for a certain set of knowledge, skills, and abilities. For many subjects taught at universities, there is no need for a connection to jobs (regardless of the often-stated college degree = job connection). (more…)

Read Full Post »

Tough times test us. And landscape architecture students who graduated in the last 2-3 years have been tested. The bold, tenacious ones seem to have found ways to make it, even if their motivation and sense of self-worth have been challenged along the way. When they land in a job they love, it is especially sweet. That is the case for Mark Bogdan, a BLA graduate of 2010. He has found his first good career opportunity with a nonprofit organization. (As I keep hearing about new grads being employed by nonprofits, I wonder if it is a trend.) Mark generously shares his experience here in the hope that it will help other newly minted BLAs and MLAs.

I was very worried, nervous, frustrated, almost angry about graduating in this difficult economy.  I tried to make it a point to ‘stay within the industry,’ and I used my past experiences to filter through the job search.  Since I had some construction and site design experience, I applied for everything from entry-level LA, construction foreman at a construction company, residential design/build, nursery worker (to learn more about plants), etc.  Since I had no ties, I applied to big firms who had work in China, India, Dubai, Europe (anywhere and everywhere). Still I had no bites for a job. (more…)

Read Full Post »

That is, does it matter to landscape architecture educators? To any graduate from a landscape architecture program, that question sounds crazy (or worse). My own working class roots cause me to bristle at the thought. On a personal level, an emotional level, of course, it matters very much whether or not graduates of our programs get jobs. It is really a privilege to teach highly creative people, as many of our grads are, and therefore very painful to see them leave college and not find the success they deserve. I am featuring the personal stories of some recent grads in this blog because I think their experiences are important in more ways than one.

The question really is, in what way does it matter to educators? Is it just on an emotional level, a hope that students you know personally will succeed? Or do the difficulties faced by graduates in the past couple of years suggest that parts of our curricula need to be reconsidered? The answer depends on whether you think the current economic upheaval is just a cyclical event and that we’ll eventually turn the corner and be back to “normal,” or you think that a major restructuring is underway. Educational institutions respond very slowly to change, and that is probably very appropriate in the case of the rise and fall of the national economy. If, however, a major restructuring is taking place, and new forces are shaping the profession in lasting ways, shouldn’t education respond? And, in the near term, shouldn’t we find ways to emphasize a breadth and diversity of knowledge and skills that help new grads be as flexible as possible when they embark on their careers?

Read Full Post »

What advice do recent graduates (1-4 years out) in landscape architecture have for students who are graduating now?

First, some optimism. In the spring of 2011, there were more job openings in landscape architecture than in the previous 2 years, according to job watchers on the East and West Coasts. For example, Archa Malhotra Kalla, employed since 2008 in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area said:

Yes, the economy has had a major impact on the profession, but I do feel that things are picking up now. I’ve seen more job listings in the past 2-3 weeks than I had in the past 2 years. I personally have been involved with construction administration and some landscape inspection for a highway project. [Editor’s note: diversification.] Also, I used this time to learn more about green building practices (get and maintain professional credentials) and the sustainable sites initiative.

And, in California, K.M. (MLA 2007) had the following reaction to the question about “green shoots”: (more…)

Read Full Post »

Nonprofit organizations have not been immune to the economic downturn, especially those dependent on donations. However, it appears that an increasing number of landscape architecture graduates in this region (New York) are finding jobs in the nonprofit sector. J. Lyons (MLA 2009) reports that there are “green shoots” in her professional niche in the “In the Field” excerpt below.

I’ve been seeing a lot of green shoots, mostly because I’m working in an environmental/sustainability field, and these movements finally seem to  be becoming more of the norm and less fringe. I’m sadly grant funded, but, where many of my colleagues who are not in the environmental field are getting program cuts, I’ve been able to take advantage of a wide range of funding opportunities to expand programs. I honestly feel like we’re in the midst of a very hasty and significant paradigm shift because of the combination of pressing environmental and economic concerns.

The emerging areas are definitely “green infrastructure”, sustainable agriculture, and regional community planning that integrates rural and urban systems (food/agriculture and energy).

We’ve hired a handful of people in the last few months, and regardless of program and function – we look for an ability to be interdisciplinary, applied experience instead of pure academic experience, and self-directed inquiry and problem solving.

My advice is to volunteer! Students and graduates need to show that they are constantly engaged and involved, inquisitive and proactive. If someone can’t find a design job right away, seek out a job that is interesting and find a way to design in your free time – volunteer or do design competitions.  I feel like things are moving very quickly and evolving rapidly (do I sound like an old fogey already?) so adaptability, gumption and perseverance seem to be key.

Read Full Post »

As described in a previous post, I sent messages to a variety of landscape architects and recent grads to get feedback on their experiences as influenced by the national economy. The most global (in more ways than one) response I received was from Nick Onody, MLA 2009, who is employed in a multidisciplinary firm in Toronto. The breadth of his comments suggests that I start with his take on professional trends and follow-up in later posts with other people’s stories of personal experience. I think each view can teach us something about what is happening now and how those both “in the field” (currently employed in the profession) and “on the fence” (seeking employment in the profession) see the world. Nick’s view is strongly influenced by landscape urbanism and its spinoffs.

Thank you for the message. I think this is quite an interesting endeavor on your part and timed perfectly at such a critical time in the design professions. The ‘Great Recession’ has led to a variety of trends and forces that have sent the profession in fundamentally different directions. Over the past decade, we have witnessed landscape come into vogue. Sustainability and the rise of LEED. Landscape as ‘scene’ to landscape as urbanism. Terrorism and natural disasters. The rise of megacities and the influx of city migrants globally. Population decline and suburban foreclosures locally. What does this all mean? What has changed and what is to come? (more…)

Read Full Post »

What was and what next. Architectural Record published this review, What Was… 2000-2010 – Features – Architectural Record, of 2000-2010 that considers the impact of change on architecture. There are numerous articles on what next? too. To what extent are these ideas applicable to landscape architecture?

The money quote from Clifford A. Pearson: “After a period of wealth creation on a scale never before seen, what do we have to show for it all?”

Read Full Post »

How has the economic turmoil that officially began in December of 2007 affected the profession and land use planning? I distinctly remember talking to my class in the fall of 2008 when Lehman Brothers collapsed, wondering out loud what this all meant. It felt like some kind of slow-motion train wreck. Most of those students graduated this year, in May of 2011, and they have been labeled a “lost generation.” I hate that label and the challenges that these recent graduates face.

One recent graduate in landscape architecture, J. Lyons (MLA 09) told me that she “honestly feel[s] like we’re in the midst of a very hasty and significant paradigm shift because of the combination of pressing environmental and economic concerns.” A paradigm shift is exactly right. Everything needs to be reconsidered, in my opinion, especially for those of us living in the United States. After 3 1/2 years of recession (or now “recovery”), people are starting to catch on to the fact that things have changed … probably permanently. Among other things, I’d like to explore in this blog the implications of this paradigm shift on the profession.

For now, I’ll start with my list of what I think will affect professional and academic practice.

Factors that will shape future practice:

  • the demand for interdisciplinary approaches to complex environmental and urban land use problems;
  • the need for a better understanding of urban ecological systems;
  • the importance of quantifying the value of interventions (based on monitoring of built works);
  • in a time of fiscal austerity, resource-efficient communities;
  • design in developing countries.

How should the paradigm shift be addressed in education?

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts