Presidents' Panel Question One: Recrutiment. Chad D. Danos, FASLA
What are three things the profession can do to increase enrollment in landscape architecture programs?
Chad D. Danos, FASLA
In order to grow the profession, we must compete with other prominent professions for the best students entering landscape architecture programs. To do that and increase enrollment, it is imperative that ASLA and CELA join forces to tackle this critical issue. I recommend working together on: 1) diversifying our audience, 2) increasing awareness of the profession at the elementary and middle school level, and 3) mentoring high school students.
Diversity – It is essential that we begin employing strategies to increase racial, ethnic, and gender diversity of students entering the profession. This means stepping out of our comfort zone by working with inner-city schools, understanding the cultural differences within our communities, and addressing the unique challenges facing entry of minorities and women into the profession. ASLA conducted a Diversity Summit last summer, which began a comprehensive approach to positioning landscape architects as a credible profession in “leading the design and stewardship of land and communities.” If we tackle these issues head on and reach out to a broader audience, our universities will increase enrollment and our profession will become more diverse over time.
Awareness – Increased awareness and public perception of our profession has been an ASLA focus for the past several years. There is a plethora of resources including the career discovery page found at www.asla.org, yet we need to better utilize them by making a conscious effort to introduce landscape architecture to elementary and middle schools. April is National Landscape Architecture Month; let’s all commit to introducing the profession to an elementary or middle school this month.
Mentorship – Mentoring high school students in programs such as the ACE Mentor Program is an ideal way to cultivate students’ interest in the profession and encourage enrollment in landscape architecture curriculums. We also need to consider other programs, such as the Student Conservation Association, to have a comprehensive impact. It takes both emerging professionals and established landscape architects to build a successful mentorship program that works with both students and their families to establish a support system. Mentorship proves its worth as a tool that can increase enrollment in our landscape architecture programs.