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Festival of Places Highlights Off-Campus Landscape Architecture Experience

SYRACUSE, N.Y. – Feb. 29, 2024 – The Off-Campus Program for Landscape Architecture students at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) is a transformative experience and students will share their independent studies projects at the Festival of Places Saturday, March 2.

The immersive showcase is from 7-10 p.m. in 24 Marshall Hall. The evening also includes the George Earle lecture - A Journey Across Decades - from 7-8 p.m. in Marshall Auditorium. The panel presentation includes Professor Emerita Robin Hoffman, Shani White, landscape architect; and Hanna Gold, project manager with the David Rubin Land Collective.

The Off-Campus Program in Landscape Architecture is unique from any other study-abroad model as it emphasizes a high degree of experiential and self-directed learning. Students go off-campus not as an entire class but in small groups so they can become part of the place, participating in daily life.

Before the Off-Campus semester, students work one-on-one with their faculty advisor to develop their study proposals. The Off-Campus Program serves as a thesis or capstone project for the undergraduate students, giving them experience with project definition, methodology, fieldwork, and documentation, all of which contribute to their self-confidence and attractiveness to employers.

When the students return to campus for the spring semester, they share their projects with the ESF community at the Festival of Places. The students create spaces to represent the diverse landscapes, places, and cultures they experienced. This year exhibits will highlight Spain, Nepal, and New York City.

For students, the Off-Campus experience is transformative.

"The independence pushes you to become a leader," said Julia Smith, who traveled to Kathmandu, Nepal. “This program was the cherry on top of the Landscape Architecture department for me."

The program provides an excellent opportunity to hone research skills and can often lead to a change in focus.

Jenna Greco took her studies to Barcelona and found her project changed as she gained a deeper understanding of urban agriculture.

"This experience helped me to emerge as a professional," she said.

Another student, Joe Perez, who journeyed to Spain, found the ability to experience a city such as Vitoria-Gesteiz invaluable to his work.

Perez will be showing his "Imageability in the City" project at the festival.


The SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) is dedicated to the study of the environment, developing renewable technologies, and building a sustainable and resilient future through design, policy, and management of the environment and natural resources. Members of the College community share a passion for protecting the health of the planet and a deep commitment to the rigorous application of science to improve the way humans interact with the world. The College offers academic programs ranging from the associate of applied science to the Doctor of Philosophy. ESF students live, study and do research on the main campus in Syracuse, N.Y., and on 25,000 acres of field stations in a variety of ecosystems across the state.

By Dana Fries, writing intern in ESF’s Office of Communications and Marketing.