LETTER FROM THE CHAIR
New Modes of Discovery
The landscapes of our common world are now a vast, entangled field of terrains, practices, and emergent conditions. Even as global citizens become more informed, more purposeful, and more effective in the ongoing organization of these dynamic forces, it seems as if they are increasingly evading our capacity to engage with them.
It is with a sense of urgency, then, that we face the challenges of rapid development, climate change, the erosion of public space, unequal living conditions, ecological depletion, and many other issues. New methods, new modes of discovery, new models of inquiry and practice are required. As a medium of critical inquiry and engaged practice, landscape architecture is dedicated to the reformulation of our shared world by enacting new models of environmental research and design.
The Master of Landscape Architecture program at Washington University (known affectionately as Wash U) is committed to this endeavor. It actively fosters disciplinary interaction in its approaches to the organization of our cities and the industrial and agrarian landscapes that support them. We believe that the choreography of social, spatial, political, and natural ecologies is best undertaken through the transdisciplinary operations and languages of landscape, where people and other species exchange patterns of production and inhabitation.
The MLA program at the Sam Fox School
These strategies are made possible through the interaction of unique communities of learning and research that comprise the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts: Architecture, Art, and Museum. Within the academic units, the following graduate programs are offered:
Together, the academic units of the Sam Fox School allow students in their programs to orchestrate encounters with critical thinking and critical practices that encompass an extraordinary variety of disciplines.
All the programs in the School are committed to involving students in progressive social change through their chosen field of practice. They help them develop the skills they need to address the challenges of the environment, and become global citizens with evolving and adaptive skill sets that prepare them for the complex situations they will face as practitioners. The Master of Landscape Architecture is dedicated to a vision of landscape architecture as a global leader in engaged and thoughtful practice, carried out at the highest level of scholarly and creative production.
Students who study landscape architecture at Wash U have the special opportunity of enhancing the environmental design skills they develop in the MLA through an engagement with the sparkling, rigorous, and unexpected discoveries that their fellow students in architecture, urban design and the fine arts are making every day.
The Master of Landscape Architecture at Wash U both draws on this broad field of creative endeavor and contributes to it. Students who enter the program find that it is distinguished by three significant elements:
It is research-led
Design has always been a mode of human inquiry. Landscape architecture is a prolonged investigation—through design—into the relationships that enable humans and other species to co-exist in an ever-changing, globally connected planetary network of beings. We practice research by design.
It is fine arts-inflected
In order to excel at its science-informed missions in social health, ecological urbanism, environmental justice, rural recovery, and a sustainable future for all living systems, the Sam Fox School's MLA program pushes its roots deep down into the rich loams of creativity and innovation that the arts deliver to the world.
It is interdisciplinary
The Sam Fox School offers students a web of meaningful, long-term interactions between all of its various creative endeavors. Students develop a collaborative ethos and the skills to solve difficult problems by working strategically with other people whose ideas and expertise are just as provocative and enlightening as those we share with them.
Students who want to prepare for careers in landscape architecture have a wide range of options when it comes to selecting graduate schools for first professional degrees. However, if they want to prepare for careers as creative and adaptive landscape architects they have fewer choices. The Sam Fox School Master of Landscape Architecture program is designed from the ground up specifically for this purpose. All of the components of our MLA program—from course syllabi and collaborative projects to our professional faculty, from our graduate research assistantships to our outreach and study abroad programs—are designed to teach and model emerging real-world conditions.
We invite global citizens who are interested in landscape architecture as a career to join us in generating resilient cultural and social practices through the cultivation of adaptive urban and environmental design strategies.
Professor & Chair, Master of Landscape Architecture
Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts
Washington University in St Louis