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The 4+1 (BSLA + MPS in LA)

Degree Description: This degree sequence is designed for undergraduate students who wish to undertake an immersive one year course of study to expand their career options and engage in an interdisciplinary design research project. Each year, the +1 MPS will be headed by one faculty member from the department of Landscape Architecture and will include a set of coursework, lectures and a collaborative project based on a theme relevant to the most pressing issues in landscape architecture and its allied disciplines. 30 hrs of coursework is required, including 12 credits of core courses and others suggested based on the year’s theme and major project. The +1 MPS allows students from a range of landscape backgrounds to both learn and apply skillsets including cartography and data visualization, fieldwork methods, digital and physical modeling and design.

The MPS in LA Project involves the study and design of community floodplains as dynamic, living entities. Severe and costly weather events throughout the US have led to changes in federal policy regarding flood insurance requirements and have intensified regulatory restrictions on floodplain development. In New York State, several recent extreme weather events have made flooding and floodplain regulation an urgent community problem. Some community residents have accepted buyouts of their repeat-flooded homes from FEMA, but the long-term effects of strategies to relocate residents from flood-prone housing are not necessarily desirable. Bought-out floodplains can result in high vacancy neighborhoods, a reduced tax base for economically struggling towns, increased maintenance demands for unoccupied properties and little generation of economic or ecological value because vacated properties are typically converted to lawn. Our goal is to initiate community discussions and investigations that contribute to changing narratives about the Susquehanna River floodplains from liabilities to regional assets that are critical for mitigating flood events. Our research is a mixed methods design, where students are exposed to the science, design, policy dimensions of floodplains while working directly with community residents and regulators.

Core principles of this research project include:

+Science and design have the most meaning when rooted in everyday human experience

+Researchers working with the people of a place work best when jointly asking questions and seeking answers;

+Modeling, visualizing, art and narrative are key ways to both share stories and information and explore ideas;

+Experimentation is our primary tool when facing uncertain futures!

Students will:

Gain knowledge, skills and experience in interdisciplinary work

Learn and apply digital skills in cartography, drawing, modeling and visualization

Devise and perform fieldwork studies

Develop design strategies for community floodplains