MLA Program recognized STEM Discipline by Board of Regents
The UGA College of Environment + Design is excited to announce an important milestone for the Master of Landscape Architecture program: The Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia has recognized the program as an official STEM discipline, the culmination of a coordinated effort on the part of CED faculty and administration to achieve this designation.
STEM, an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, is a teaching philosophy that integrates all four disciplines into a single, cross-disciplinary program which offers instruction in real-world applications and teaching methods. Introduced in 2001 by the U.S. National Science Foundation, the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) has worked to have the discipline recognized officially as a STEM profession. As stated on the ASLA website, “Landscape architecture is inherently a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics discipline. Landscape architects, as stewards of the natural and built environment, routinely apply STEM in the planning and design of sites where millions of people live, work, and play.” In 2018, ASLA joined the STEM Education Coalition, bringing landscape architecture to the forefront of the STEM community; currently, ASLA is negotiating with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to have landscape architecture added to its official STEM Designated Degree Program List.
Specific to STEM content, there are eight primary courses embedded within the CED’s MLA curriculum that qualify: (1) Landscape Engineering, (2) Landscape Construction, (3) Plant Communities, (4) Site Applications, (5) Landscape Ecology, (6) Landscape Ecology Studio, (7) Ecological Landscape Restoration and (8) Environmental Uses of GIS. According to the MLA program’s advisor, professor Brad Davis, “The STEM designation reasserts the scientific foundations of the discipline of landscape architecture. Landscape architecture is defined as both art and science—thus, designations and professional associations in both realms are helpful in communicating to the public just what landscape architecture is.”
The new designation, which takes effect during the fall 2021 semester, changes the program’s official CIP code with the Board of Regents; a CIP code, which stands for Classification of Instructional Programs, is used primarily for statistical reporting to the Department of Education to track fields of study of higher education degrees in the United States.
With this new designation, the MLA program will be able to attract a wider range of students for whom a STEM education is important. In addition, “The STEM designation positions the discipline for greater visibility and competition for grant funding and research opportunities for faculty and students which might only be earmarked for the science fields,” according to Davis. “International students benefit greatly from the designation as it carries a longer VISA to study and work here in the United States. This is of benefit to the worldwide community of landscape architecture as we seek to grow in diversity and multi-cultural inquiry.”