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LAF is seeking theses and dissertations related to landscape performance to add to our Landscape Performance Series (LPS) database. If you know of exemplary student work completed by recent graduates from landscape architecture or allied disciplines, please consider submitting it for publication in the LPS Scholarly Works.
The LPS Scholarly Works are a searchable collection of original student research on:
- benefits of landscape
- post occupancy evaluations or analyses of monitoring data
- cost comparisons of traditional versus sustainable approaches
- applications of existing research to quantify benefits of existing or proposed landscape projects
Please send submissions as pdf attachments (20MB max) to firstname.lastname@example.org by Aug 15, 2012. All submissions will be reviewed for quality and appropriateness prior to publication. Accepted works will be published by Sept 30, 2012.
Selection into the LPS increases awareness of sustainable projects, demonstrates thought-leadership, and shares innovative research so that others – both inside and outside the profession of landscape architecture – can learn from exemplary works and create change.
By Byoung-Suk Kweon, PhD, PLA and Christopher D. Ellis, PhD, PLA, ASLA
Children need safe, healthy, and stimulating environments in which to grow and learn. During the school year, children can spend 6 to 8 hours at school where the environment plays a critical role in child development. Much time is spent in the school yard or traveling to and from school. These environments need to be carefully planned and designed to optimize experiences that support education, health, and stewardship. The problem is that many school children are exposed to unhealthy environmental conditions, school yards that lack opportunities for nature experiences, and commuting options that favor vehicle travel over walking or biking.
Research shows that children are more vulnerable to the effects of air pollution than adults: Their lung function has not been fully developed and their airways are narrower than adults’. They breathe in greater levels of polluted air relative to their weight and spend more time outside when air pollution levels are the highest. Dr. Byoung-Suk Kweon at the University of Maryland and Dr. Paul Mohai at the University of Michigan found that of 3660 schools in Michigan, 62% were located in areas with the highest levels of air pollution from industrial sources. Their study, funded by the Kresge Foundation, found that air pollution concentrations are statistically significant predictors of student performance. This was true even after controlling for factors such as the rural, suburban, or urban location of the school; average expenditure per student; size of the student body; student-teacher ratio; and percentage of students enrolled in the free lunch program. Their work with Dr. Sangyun Lee and graduate student Kerry Ardwork was recently published in the prestigious journal Health Affairs. The team is currently drafting a school siting policy for the state of Michigan that focuses on healthy environmental conditions.
Understanding how trees and other urban infrastructure influence school performance is essential for improving childhood well-being. Dr. Christopher D. Ellis and Dr. Kweon at the University of Maryland investigated the effects of trees and other physical environments around Detroit schools on elementary and middle school children’s school performance. They measured the amount of tree canopy around the schools, the distances to highways, housing vacancy rates, proximity to waterbodies, etc. within one kilometer of 897 public schools (grades 3 through 8) in the Detroit Metropolitan area. These measures were evaluated against the average performance scores measured by the Michigan Educational Assessment Program test. They found that urban nature such as trees and open water have positive impacts on children’s school performance while close proximity to highways and high housing vacancy rates have negative impacts. Their analytical procedures controlled for school enrollment and socio-economic status. Funding for this study was provided by the US Department of Agriculture McIntire-Stennis program.
This summer, Drs. Kweon and Ellis, along with research assistant Mark Storie, are participating in LAF’s Case Study Investigation (CSI) program and working to quantify the benefits that school landscapes can have on school children, teachers and staff. Their case studies are documenting ways that stormwater and wastewater systems, nature playgrounds, and schoolyard gardens integrate into school curricula, support outdoor activities, increase outdoor classroom use, and influence test scores and attendance rates.
It is important to show that today’s educational environment is far more than just buildings and books. If the world outside is designed to be safe, healthy and rich with learning opportunities, then school environments can be places in which children flourish and succeed.
Dr. Byoung-Suk Kweon is an Assistant Professor and Dr. Christopher D. Ellis is an Associate Professor in the Department of Plant Science & Landscape Architecture at the University of Maryland.
Congratulations to LAF Executive Director Barbara Deutsch and LAF Board Vice President of Research Forster Ndubisi, who were named Fellows-elect by the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA). They are among 33 ASLA members designated as Fellows in 2012, in recognition of exceptional accomplishments over a sustained period of time.
The group will be officially inducted into the ASLA Council of Fellows on Sept 30 during the 2012 ASLA Annual Meeting & Expo in Phoenix. Being named a Fellow is among the highest honors a landscape architect may receive. Fellowship recognizes contributions to the profession and society at large based on their works, leadership and management, knowledge, and service.
Barbara was nominated by the Potomac Chapter in the Leadership/Management Category for her efforts to put the profession at the front and center of collaborative sustainability. Forster, Professor and Head of the Department of Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning at Texas A&M University, was nominated by the Texas Chapter in the Knowledge Category for his role in finding interconnecting threads in the current cross-disciplinary body of knowledge on sustainability as a scholar, educator, academic practitioner, and distinguished administrator.
Congrats to all 33 Fellows-elect!