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Off Campus Program

The Off-Campus Program is the undergraduate centerpiece or “capstone” experience for students enrolled in ESF’s Bachelor of Landscape Architecture degree program, and one of the most unique educational opportunities within the State University of New York. Each student in the Bachelor of Landscape Architecture Program is required to participate. Since 1970, over 1600 students have studied in over 50 different countries and around the United States.

The off-campus program is centered on the idea of an “experiential studio.” It is quite different, however, from most studio- or laboratory-based programs that teach using example and participation. Prior to the off-campus semester, students identify a particular design-related study topic, then develop plans to leave the traditional university setting and travel to locations that are uniquely suited to the topic. Students see and experience exemplary works of landscape architecture in the best locations in the world. At the same time, students learn from experiencing unfamiliar places, cultures and languages, and gain an insight into the natural and cultural environment—a sense of place that is unattainable in the campus classroom. Finally, students learn lessons about themselves and American culture that are equally valuable as landscape architects and as citizens in a larger society.

Studies may take any of several forms—they may be relatively independent, focusing on a particular student’s interests and aspirations (self-described study); they may be directed by a faculty member’s interests or research (faculty-described study); or they may be more applied and directed by a local group or organization on site, similar to an internship arrangement (work study). Each off-campus group is coordinated and advised by a participating faculty member, and assisted by an on-site consultant (usually a local alumna or alumnus, landscape architect, or university professor). Each student spends a full, 15-week semester “off-campus” pursuing the study, earning 15 credit hours. Typically the off-campus study is undertaken during the fall semester of the fifth year.

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