Pennsylvania State University (UNITED STATES)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2013 Proceedings
Publication year: 2013
Pages: 689-699
ISBN: 978-84-616-3847-5
ISSN: 2340-1095
Conference name: 6th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 18-20 November, 2013
Location: Seville, Spain
Introducing landscape architecture students to tame and wicked problems within design studios fosters experiential learning by situating students in the midst of real-world design problems. This oral presentation focuses on the results found in tackling tame and wicked problems in an advanced undergraduate design studio in partnership with scientists focused on the long-term ecological research of an urban core.

This studio had a common constraint in older urban cores, a shrinking city, with the uncommon opportunity of more than a decade of focused ecological research developed through the Baltimore Ecosystems Study (BES). As part of the National Science Foundation’s Long Term Ecological Research Network, the BES supports a variety of community-based activities. A studio partnership was developed with the primary intention to take advantage of the collection of BES ecological data and strong municipal collaboration with the city's planning department to coordinate an exchange for a semester long design experience.

Within the studio design initiative, input exchange included first-hand exposure to the inner-city community and was intensely supplemented with the research scientists and city planners by web conferencing. Regularly scheduled web conferences for design updates were conducted and resulted in constructive dialogue between collaborators. The design challenge identification and resolution was done primarily at a distance through synchronic and non-synchronic Internet technologies with these collaborators. This web-based input exchange experience is important for students to better prepare them for professional practice as it continues to evolve in many firms to be a global enterprise.

The greatest studio opportunities also presented some of the greatest constraints for the students. For example, abundant BES data, partner interests, and geographic distance of the study area posed challenges as perceived by the students. The wicked problems posed by service-learning and community engagement are often challenged by distance and an inability to have frequent input exchange with partners, often due to the cost in time and travel. The technology use of web-conferencing helped reduce travel time and cost while student learning benefitted from the increased interaction with actual community partners.

This studio partner collaboration will continue with different inner-city neighborhoods serving as focused prototypical design exploration/demonstration areas. This approach has benefited from the formalized feedback of the studio partners. Service-learning and community engagement that utilizes web conferencing presents an interesting studio model. This presentation will discuss the lessons learned by the studio instructors from using this studio model including its cost effectiveness, technological challenges, and feedback received from the partners.
Web Conferencing, Long Term Ecological Research, Experiential Learning, Shrinking City.