Nowadays, we have seen colleges and universities linked to society more and more. Over the past decade, there have been various shifts in pedagogy and scholarship in higher education, including the shift towards university-community partnerships.
In landscape architecture, the number of programs who include community engagement as part of mission statement has increased, and the number of faculty members who include community engagement as part of their teaching, research, and service has increased.
“The mission of the Landscape Architecture Program at The University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture is to create and share knowledge for advancing the profession of landscape architecture as a means to help individuals, communities, and societies. ” (http://soa.utexas.edu/programs/landscape-architecture)
University of Maryland, Landscape Architecture Department is dedicated to “providing service to communities ” (http://www.larch.umd.edu/)
University of Washington, Landscape Architecture Department is to “create positive change in our communities, region, and world ”. (http://larch.be.washington.edu/)
Last semester, I participated in a landscape architecture research course using community engagement methods. We were trying to deal with food desert and food insecurity. We cooperated with Melrose-Rugby neighborhood in Roanoke to conduct the research. We created survey and focus group protocol design for exploring community members’ understanding about diet health and food security. And we hosted a community meeting to do survey and focus group interviews with residents from Melrose-Rugby neighborhood. We summarized the results and tried to keep in touch with the neighborhood to solve the problem.
I think that is a good example of working towards the university-community partnerships. We need more efforts to be made to connect the university and community. We need more university’s teaching, research, and service aiming at communities and society.