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Landscape Studies

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Examine the relationship of people to natural and built environments by studying landscapes, from parks and palaces to sidewalks and backyards. The Landscape Studies Program at Smith, the first in a liberal arts undergraduate college in the United States, joins architecture, landscape architecture, landscape history and theory, art, art history and literature with the sciences and social sciences to investigate critical issues in the built environment.

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Requirements

Students study the design, history and politics of landscapes in the United States and abroad. We read histories, theory and literary texts that express the great range of ways in which people inhabit, shape and understand the landscape. In classrooms and in studios, we explore physical landscapes and design working plans.

The Landscape Studies Program links faculty, students and courses in architecture, engineering, and environmental science and policy. Together, these people and programs produce a study of the design, ecology, politics and human relationship to the environment that we believe is unique in the United States.

Smith’s resources make this possible. The campus is a botanic garden and an arboretum, a historic landscape designed by the firm of Frederic Law Olmsted, the creator of Central Park. Smith's museum, libraries, Rare Book Room and the campus itself, together with the curriculum, form a unique, rich archive and laboratory for the study of human interactions with the spaces and places we inhabit.

The Five Colleges—Amherst, Hampshire and Mount Holyoke colleges, and the University of Massachusetts—are collectively a hotbed of academic, artistic and activist involvement with the environment. University professors of landscape architecture and regional planning welcome our students in their courses. Under an agreement between Smith and the Department of Architecture and Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning at the University of Massachusetts, Smith students can choose courses here and at the university that will permit them to receive the professional degrees of master in architecture and master of landscape architecture in two years instead of three.

In addition, our landscape of the Connecticut River Valley is one of the most fertile agricultural landscapes in the country and is a center for innovation in design, recovery and use of the environment.

Advisers: Reid Bertone-Johnson; Steven Moga

Landscape studies is a multidisciplinary exploration of the ways in which land becomes a landscape that is a cultural as well as physical construction that is both imagined and engineered. The minor consists of six courses (24 credits or more), to be chosen in consultation with a landscape studies adviser. One course should normally be LSS 300.

Requirements for all minors include:

  1. A one-semester introductory courseLSS 105 or an equivalent approved by the program
  2. Two other non-studio LSS courses: LSS 230, 240 (colloquia), 300, or LSS 100 taken twice
  3. Biology 120 and 121 (landscape plants & issues + lab), or Biology 122 and 123 (horticulture + lab), or equivalent

We do not require a studio course, although we strongly recommend at least two studios (250, 255, ARS/LSS 389), as well as LSS 300 for any student considering graduate studies in landscape-related fields

    Students will select two other courses from the list of related courses (see our website), in consultation with the LSS minor adviser. We encourage you to concentrate these three courses in one of the following areas, in consultation with the minor adviser:

    • Landscape design, history and theory (examples: LSS 250, 255, 389, and LSS 300;LSS-related courses in art history and literature)
    • Land use and development (examples: anthropology, archeology, environmental science and policy, engineering, urban studies, sociology, studio courses)
    • Horticulture and plant biology

    Courses

    LSS 100 Landscape, Design, and the Environment
    Through readings and a series of lectures by Smith faculty and guests, we will examine the history and influences out of which Landscape studies is emerging. We will look at the relationship of this new field with literary and cultural studies, art, art history, landscape architecture, history, biology and environmental sciences. What is landscape studies? Where does it come from? Why is it important? How does it relate to, for instance, landscape painting and city planning? How does it link political and aesthetic agendas? What is its role in current sustainability debates and initiatives among architects, landscape architects, planners and engineers?
    Students may take this course twice for credit. S/U only.
    (E){H/S/A}
    2 credits
    Ann Leone and Reid Bertone-Johnson, Co-Directors
    Offered Spring 2019

    LSS 105 Introduction to Landscape Studies
    This introductory course explores the evolving and interdisciplinary field of landscape studies. Drawing upon a diverse array of disciplinary influences in the social sciences, humanities, and design fields, landscape studies is concerned with the complex and multi-faceted relationship between human beings and the physical environment. Students in this course learn to critically analyze a wide variety of landscape types from the scale of a small garden to an entire region, as well as to practice different methods of landscape investigation. It is a course designed to change the way one sees the world, providing a fresh look at everyday and extraordinary places alike. Priority given to first years, sophomores, and LSS minors.
    Enrollment limited to 30
    {H/S/A}
    4 credits
    Reid Bertone-Johnson
    Offered Fall 2018

    LSS 200 Socialized Landscapes: Private Squalor and Public Affluence
    Certain landscapes dissolve economic, political, social, cultural constructs to foster diversity on common ground. This course will trace the development of these socialized landscapes, specifically in Europe and North America in the last two centuries, as places of reform, respite, and refuge. Focusing on a series of case studies we will characterize what makes a place a socialized landscape, identify how it improves its community, and consider how a dysfunctional space might be transformed into a socialized landscape. This discussion-based course will have a practical component insofar as we will propose ways of socializing a real site for a client. Prerequisite: LSS 105 or permission of the instructor.
    Enrollment limited to 20
    {H/S/A}
    4 credits
    Not offered 2018-2019

    LSS 210 Suburbia: The Middle Landscape
    This course will explore suburbia as its own landscape and as a borderland between countryside and city. From the nineteenth-century town-planning initiatives in England to today’s sprawl in America, we will consider such communities as Port Sunlight near Liverpool, England; Shaker Heights, Ohio; Levittown, New York; Columbia, Maryland; and Celebration, Florida. Readings on culture, politics, economics, and regional planning will highlight some of the contradictions that plague the conception, development, and future of suburbia, most notably transportation/isolation, homogeneity/inclusion, safety/security, historicism/utopianism, biophilia/biophobia, conformity/comfort, and capitalism/pastoral aesthetic. Prerequisite: LSS 105 or permission of the instructor.
    Enrollment limited to 20
    (E) {H/S/A}
    4 credits
    TBD
    Not Offered 2018-2019

    LSS 220 Activism by Design
    Landscapes have been settled, conquered, threatened, and reclaimed throughout world history. How have indigenous people overcome such devastation as colonialism, industrialism, poverty, and climate change to boast pilot programs in landscape architecture, conservation, and agriculture? Case studies of resilience and ingenuity include the botanic gardens in the West Indies, national parks in Costa Rica, agritourism in Tuscany, sustainable design in the Northwest Territories, and open space in Oakland, California. Can comprehensive analysis of these individual solutions offer glocal templates? Prerequisites: LSS 100 or LSS 105 or by permission of the instructor.
    Enrollment limited to 20
    {E} {H/S/A}
    4 credits 
    Not offered 2018-2019

    LSS 230 Power, Place, Politics, and People: The Contested Urban Landscape
    Students in this course investigate the production of the built environment and the landscape of cities, focusing on key actors such as neighborhood activists, real estate developers, city officials, and environmentalists, among other advocates and interested parties. Organized thematically and supplemented by readings in urban theory and related fields, the course tackles questions of how urban places are made, why different cities look and feel the way they do, and who shapes the city. Prerequisite: LSS 100 or LSS 105 or by permission of the instructor.
    Enrollment limited to 20
    {E}{H/S/A}
    4 credits
    Steven Moga
    Offered Fall 2018

    LSS 240 Cultural Landscapes and Historic Preservation
    Debates over the meaning, interpretation, and management of unique, artistic, historic, and/or culturally significant places will take center stage in this course. Students will consider how and why some landscapes and buildings get preserved and protected while others are redesigned, ignored, neglected, or demolished. Major themes in the course include continuity and change in the built environment, notions of cultural heritage, and the concept of authenticity. Readings include theoretical and historical perspectives on the topic supplemented by case studies and field investigations. Prerequisites: LSS 100 or LSS 105 or by permission of the instructor.
    Enrollment limited to 20
    {H/S/A}
    4 credits
    Steven Moga
    Not offered 2018-2019

    LSS 245 Place Frames: Photography as Research Method in Landscape Studies
    Photography and landscape are intertwined. Scholars, design professionals, artists, and journalists use photographs as evidence, as a means of representing sites, as a design tool, as source material for project renderings, and as a device for documentation and record keeping. This course focuses on how photography is a part of field observations and research techniques, how photographs are used in landscape studies, and how text and image are combined in different photographic and scholarly genres. Students will take their own photographs and examine the works of photographers, including landscape architects, urbanists, artists, and journalists. The course will include field exercises in combination with workshops, discussions, and research at the Smith College Museum of Art. Major themes include cultural landscapes, topography and land forms, transportation, sense of place, aerial and satellite photography, suburbia, patterns on the land, abandonment and decay, and the image of the city. Prerequisites: LSS 100 or LSS 105 or by permission of the instructor.
    Enrollment limited to 15
    {A/S}
    4 credits
    Steven Moga
    Offered Spring 2018

    LSS 250 Studio: Landscape and Narrative
    This studio asks students to consider the landscape as a location of evolving cultural and ecological patterns, processes and histories. Beginning with readings and discussions students work through a series of projects that engage with the narrative potential of landscape and critically consider the environment as socially and culturally constructed. A variety of media are used in the design process including drawing, model-making, collage and photography. Priority given to LSS minors and ARCH majors.
    Note:LSS 250 will fulfill the Introduction to Architecture studios requirement for Path C (Architecture) of the Art major at Smith College.
    Enrollment limited to 14
    {A/S}
    4 credits
    Reid Bertone-Johnson
    Offered Spring 2019

    LSS 255 Art & Ecology
    Environmental designers are in the unique and challenging position of bridging the science of ecology and the art of place-making. This studio emphasizes the dual necessity for solutions to ecological problems that are artfully designed and artistic expressions that reveal ecological processes. Beginning with readings, precedent studies and in-depth site analysis, students will design a series of projects that explore the potential for melding art and ecology.
    Note: LSS 255 will fulfill the Introduction to Architecture studios requirement for Path C (Architecture) of the Art major at Smith College.
    Enrollment limited to 14
    {A/S}
    4 credits
    Reid Bertone-Johnson
    Not offered 2018-2019

    LSS 256 Studio: Design for Social Sustainability: Our Place in the Public Realm
    More than ever we are faced with the need to make good sense of the public realm from the human perspective. How formal and informal landscapes can encourage or discourage use applies to a variety of places: urban wildlands to neighborhood mini-parks, high-style urban squares to one-day parking space plazas, community centers to third spaces, upscale shopping malls to ad hoc night markets, suburban neighborhoods to downtown artist lofts. In an increasingly "glocal" world, this applies to all kinds of people. With a growing and increasingly diverse population, we have the challenge of balancing complex social and environmental needs. In the LSS 256 studio we will remix the venerable traditions of social factors methodology with designs for daily life activities and the spaces that contain them.
    4 credits
    Not offered 2018-2019

    LSS 260 Visual Storytelling: Graphics, Data, and Design
    This course is an introduction to graphic communication, the visual representation of ideas and information, for students of diverse backgrounds such as Art, Architecture, American Studies, Computer Science, Economics, Engineering, Environmental Science and Policy, Government, and Sociology. The course will include lectures, readings and exercises on graphic design, typography, layout, information graphics, data visualization, and portfolio design. Students will be exposed to graphic design software (Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign) through exercises that will build the skills necessary to complete a design portfolio, or an equivalent independent final project showcasing a cohesive visual argument. For students interested in visual communication, data visualization, graphics, and portfolio design. Priority given to LSS minors and ARCH majors. Pending CAP approval.
    Enrollment limited to 14
    {A}
    4 credits
    Reid Bertone-Johnson
    Offered Fall 2018

    LSS 288/CLT 288 Bitter Homes and Gardens: Domestic Space and Domestic Discord in Three Modern Women Novelists
    The work of certain writers--often women and often Wharton, von Arnim, and Colette--is categorized as small in scope, narrowly focused, and therefore marginal in some ways. Here are questions, based in part on readings in landscape and domestic design theory, that we can ask to help us see their work differently: When and how is it appropriate to juxtapose writers' biographies on their fiction? How do they represent domestic discord--loss, rage, depression--in their fiction? In particular, how do local landscapes and other domestic spaces--houses, rooms, gardens--figure in this representation? Texts will include novels, short stories, correspondence, excerpts from journals, and other autobiographical writing: Pre-requisite: one other literature course at any level, or permission of the instructor.
    {L}
    4 credits
    Ann Leone
    Not offered 2018-2019

    LSS 300 Rethinking Landscape
    This capstone course in the study of the built environment brings history and theory alive for those students with interests in diverse fields such as art, architecture, American studies, engineering, and the natural sciences. Designed as an advanced-level seminar, it explores key concepts and theoretical debates that have shaped the interdisciplinary field of landscape studies. In particular, students will investigate how the field has changed over time and critically consider where it is likely to go in the future. Classic texts from thinkers such as J.B. Jackson, Yi-Fu Tuan, John Stilgoe, Anne Spirn, and Dolores Hayden will be paired with contemporary critiques and new approaches to the study of space and place. Independent research work and participation in class discussion are strongly emphasized. Prerequisite: one 200 level course in LSS or permission of the instructor. Priority given to LSS minors, and seniors and juniors.
    Enrollment limited to 12
    {H/S/A}
    4 credits
    Steven Moga
    Offered Spring 2019

    LSS/ARS 389 Broad-Scale Design & Planning Studio
    This class is intended for students who have taken introductory landscape studios and are interested in exploring more sophisticated projects. It is also for Architecture + Urbanism majors who have a strong interest in landscape architecture or urban design. In a design studio format, the students will analyze and propose interventions for the built environment on a broad scale, considering multiple factors (including ecological, economic, political, sociological, and historical) in their engagement of the site. The majority of the semester will be spent working on one complex project. Students will use digital tools as well as traditional design media and physical model building within a liberal arts based conceptual studio that encourages extensive research and in depth theoretic inquiry. Prerequisites: At least two of the following: ARS283, LSS250, ARS285, LSS255 or equivalent AND at least one of the following: ARH105, LSS100, LSS105, or equivalent AND permission of the instructor. Priority given to LSS minors and ARCH majors.
    Note: ARS/LSS 389 will fulfill the ARS 388 advanced studio requirement for Path C (Architecture) of the Art major at Smith College.
    Enrollment limited to 14
    {A}{Q}
    4 credits
    Reid Bertone-Johnson
    Offered Spring 2019

    LSS 400 Special Studies
    Admission by permission of the instructor and director, normally for senior minors. Advanced study and research in Landscape Studies related fields. May be taken in conjunction with LSS 300 or as an extension of design work begun during or after a landscape studies or architecture studio.
    1-4 credits
    Ann Leone, Reid Bertone-Johnson and Steven Moga
    Offered both semesters each year

    Cross-Listed Courses

    ARS 283 Introduction to Architecture: Site and Space
    The primary goal of this studio is to engage in the architectural design process as a mode of discovery and investigation. Design is a process of discovery based on personal experience, the joy of exploration, and a spirited intuition. Gaining skills in graphic communication and model making, students will produce projects to illustrate their ideas and observations in response to challenging questions about the art and craft of space-making. Overall, this course will ask students to take risks intellectually and creatively, fostering a keener sensitivity to the built environment as something considered, manipulated, and made. Prerequisite: one college level art history, architectural history, landscape studies, or architectural design studio course. Note: LSS 250 can substitute for ARS 283 in the Plan C studio art major. A required fee of $75.00 to cover group supplied materials and/or printing will be charged at the time of registration. Students will be responsible for directly purchasing any additional supplies that may be required.
    Enrollment limited to 24
    {A}
    4 credits
    Offered Fall 2018

    ARS 285 Introduction to Architecture: Language and Craft
    The primary goal of this studio is to gain insight into the representation of architectural space and form as a crafted place or object. Students will gain skills in graphic communication and model making, working in multiple media including digital modeling. We will look at the architecture of the past and present for guidance and imagine the future through conceptual models and drawings. Overall, this course will ask students to take risks intellectually and creatively, fostering a keener sensitivity to the built environment as something considered, manipulated, and made. Prerequisite: one college level art history, architectural history, landscape studies, or architectural design studio course. Enrollment limited to 24. Note: LSS 255 can substitute for ARS 285 in the Plan C studio art major. A required fee of $75 to cover group supplied materials and/or printing will be charged at the time of registration. Students will be responsible for directly purchasing any additional supplies that may be required.
    {A}
    4 credits
    Offered Spring 2019

    ARS 386 Topics in Architecture
    This course will explore a rotating selection of themes in the built environment, with strong emphasis on interdisciplinary work. Topics may include: context, historical factors, urban design and planning, architectural theory and practice, material culture methods, or other themes. Prerequisites: 283, 285, (or equivalent LSS studio) and two art history courses, or permission of the instructor. Enrollment limited to 12. A required fee of $75 to cover group supplied materials and/or printing will be charged at the time of registration. Students will be responsible for directly purchasing any additional supplies that may be required.
    {A}
    4 credits
    Offered Fall 2018

    ARS 388 Advanced Architecture: Complex Places, Multiple Spaces
    This course considers architecture as a socially constructed place. We will examine how to analyze and intervene within the built environment. A final project, involving the manipulation/examination/interpretation of place and space through modeling and graphic communication or a multi-media research project will be required. Prerequisites: ARS283, 285, and two art history courses, or permission of the instructor. Enrollment limited to 12. A required fee of $75 to cover group supplied materials and/or printing will be charged at the time of registration. Students will be responsible for directly purchasing any additional supplies that may be required.
    {A}
    4 credits
    Offered Spring 2019

    LSS 288/CLT 288 Bitter Homes and Gardens: Domestic Space and Domestic Discord in Three Modern Women Novelists
    The work of certain writers--often women and often Wharton, von Arnim, and Colette--is categorized as small in scope, narrowly focused, and therefore marginal in some ways. Here are questions, based in part on readings in landscape and domestic design theory, that we can ask to help us see their work differently: When and how is it appropriate to juxtapose writers' biographies on their fiction? How do they represent domestic discord--loss, rage, depression--in their fiction? In particular, how do local landscapes and other domestic spaces--houses, rooms, gardens--figure in this representation? Texts will include novels, short stories, correspondence, excerpts from journals, and other autobiographical writing: Pre-requisite: one other literature course at any level, or permission of the instructor.
    {L}

    4 credits
    Ann Leone
    Not offered 2018-2019

    The Speakers Program is a two-credit course in Landscape studies (LSS 100). It is offered as S/NC only and may be taken twice for credit. Three short papers and weekly readings related to the speakers’ topics are required. For more information, email Reid Bertone-Johnson, Ann Leone or Steve Moga.

    LSS 100/Speakers Program meets in Graham Auditoriumm in the Hillyer Art Building, from 2:40–4 p.m. The Smith College community is welcome to attend. 
    Additional information will be posted as it becomes available.

    Spring 2020 Schedule

    January 27, 2020

    Steven Moga, Assistant Professor, Landscape Studies, Smith College
    Introduction to Landscape Studies

    February 3, 2020

    Emma Silverman, Visiting Assistant Professor of Art, Smith College

    February 10, 2020

    Reid Bertone-Johnson, Lecturer in Landscape Studies, Smith College

    February 17, 2020

    Julie Brigham-Grette, Department of Geosciences, University of Massachusetts Amherst

    February 24, 2020

    Niall Kirkwood, Graduate School of Design, Harvard University

    March 2, 2020

    Signe Nielsen, Principal, Nielsen Landscape Architects, New York, NY

    March 9, 2020

    Mariana Mogilevich, Editor, Urban Omnibus-Architectural League of New York

    March 30, 2020

    Billy Fleming, Research Coordinator, Ian L. McHarg Center at PennDesign, University of Pennsylvania

    April 6, 2020

    Anne Whiston Spirn, Professor of Landscape Architecture and Planning, MIT

    April 13, 2020

    Randolph Hester and Marcia McNally, Professors Emeritus, Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning, University of California, Berkeley; Directors, The Planning Laboratory

    April 20, 2020

    Lynden Miller, Public Garden Designer; Director of The Conservatory Garden in Central Park, New York NY

    April 27, 2020

    Helen Horowitz, Sydenham Clark Parsons Professor Emerita of History and Professor Emerita of American Studies, Smith College

    Associated Faculty

    Fernando Armstrong-Fumero
    Associate Professor of Anthropology

    Jesse Bellemare
    Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences

    Alice Hearst
    Professor of Government

    Elisa Kim
    Assistant Professor of Art

    Douglas Lane Patey
    Sophia Smith Professor of English Language & Literature

    Emeriti

    Dean Flower
    Professor Emeritus of English Language and Literature


    Opportunities & Resources

    What Can I Do With a Landscape Studies Minor?

    Landscape studies minors have majors across the curriculum, from art, French and English to American studies, government, sociology, psychology, biology, environmental science and policy, and engineering. Students who want to build careers in landscape studies can pursue internships and graduate studies in a variety of fields. The Lazarus Center for Career Development offers information on internships and careers.

    Applicable Fields
    • American Studies
    • Architecture and Landscape Architecture
    • Art History
    • Cultural Studies
    • Economics
    • Environmental Law and Environmental Studies
    • History
    • Public Policy
    • Regional and Urban Planning

    The Susan Komroff Cohen ’62 and Paula Deitz ’59 Prize in Landscape Studies

    2019 Winners
    • Ashley Fishbein AC
    • Janan Luisa Fugel ’19
    • Katya Maritza Garcia-Israel ’20
    • Robin N. Karoway-Waterhouse AC
    • Jessica Elizabeth McKnight ’19
    2018 Winners
    • Jessica McKnight ’19
    • Zoe Marie Zandbergen ’18
    2017 Winners
    • Zoe Dong ’17
    • Hatya Garcia-Israel ’20
    • Camy Hines ’20
    • Zoe Zandbergen ’18

    Students Talk

    Greta Mundt


    Greta Mundt ’21

    “Our institutional goals and values are baked into our landscape. It’s good to recognize that we have this beautiful space and a lot of people working on it.”

    Sophie Guthrie


    Sophie Guthrie ’21

    “Landscape studies is a cool discipline. You can approach it from a science perspective or as a sociological study of how people interact with the environment.”

    Laura Rosenbauer


    Laura Rosenbauer ’18

    “It is incredibly rewarding to know that our research and written reports will be useful to future generations of Smith students, faculty and staff.”
     

    Contact

    Department of Landscape Studies

    Wright Hall 129
    Smith College
    Northampton, MA

    Phone: 413-585-3145
    Email: dosepowi@smith.edu

    Administrative Assistant: David Osepowicz

    Director of Landscape Studies: Steven Moga