Research in the Landscape: Methods & Practices
—required research methods course in the 2nd year of the MLA Program
Washington University in St. Louis
Research in the Landscape introduces students to existing research frameworks, practices, and methods in landscape architecture, in adjacent fields, and in the overlapping territories between. The course surveys research that has been and is currently being undertaken, helping students become familiar with an evolving body of knowledge in and around landscape architecture. By surveying, we practice looking for how knowledge is produced, and take an interest in how we might reframe existing methods of inquiry as well as produce knowledge through our own devices.
Frameworks borrowed from M. Elen Deming and Simon Swaffield in Landscape Architecture Research, help students develop research questions, design research processes, and select strategies. At the same time, the course encourages students to discover how they can develop practices of their own—out of their interests, propensities, knowledge of landscape architectural history and theory, and their existing thinking and making habits.
Throughout the semester, students select and refine a frame, designing a research project individually. The project can be a semester long process, or one preparing them for a thesis, fellowship proposal, or perhaps a lifelong project. At the semester’s end, students present their individual, unique research work—by reading a paper they have written, presenting a finished research book or web intervention, or by engaging their peers and guest reviewers in a critical tour, performance, or film.