Students on the AD5000 module have recently had lectures from Mark Cowell and Dan Bowles. Mark talked about the development of professionalism and the history and role of the Landscape Institute and Dan about his current work at MHP in Cheltenham.

Mark reminded the students that they are following an accredited course in landscape architecture and when they qualify they will be a ‘professional’ in a that discipline. But what does this actually mean? What does being a professional require of you? Mark went on to answer these questions starting with a brief history from the pre-Renaissance guilds , the formation of ‘royal’ societies in the 18th century, the formation of technical associations related to ‘progress’ in the industrial revolution, and finally to the ‘modern’ movements and the establishment of the Institute of Landscape Architects 90 years ago (in 1979 becoming the LI). The talk covered a wide range of current issues to do with skills and knowledge, new initiatives, how to become chartered, codes of practice, challenges in the 21st century. All good and important stuff which will become more apparent when in your professional year or looking for work.

Dan, a recent graduate and diplomate from Cheltenham, focussed initially on his memories of our landscape course, what projects he really benefitted from, areas where he should have concentrated more, the importance of engaging in everything as time as a student passes quickly. He advocated curiosity, an open mind and an openness to learning. You won’t become competent in all things immediately; in fact he’s still learning the ‘trade’ even after four years work practice. He then showed and explained a selection of the main projects he’s previously been and is currently working on, occasionally making reference to projects taken at university. For example, much of the Forest of Dean residential planning module can be applied to an new village planning project currently taking shape near Bristol. Dan’s talk, as usual, was lively and inspirational. He says landscape architects have a privileged role being able to create spaces that connect people with nature and how that links with health and wellbeing. Here he recommended a book: which identifies the problem of nature deficit disorder.

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