Lecture series goes global

To say 2020 was a challenging year, full of unexpected ups and downs, is an understatement. COVID-19 and lockdowns forced us to adapt to new ways of working and pushed many of us to quickly up-skill in technology to make remote connection and collaboration easier.

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington’s Landscape Architecture programme  and the NZILA had planned to run a series of public lectures called ‘Thinkers and Doers’. The series would bring together practitioners, scholars, students, and the wider landscape and built environment community to share ideas and hear the latest innovations in the field.

But then lockdown happened.

The team switched to an online offering, which also enabled them to broaden the scope of the lectures. By changing the time of the lectures they were able to attract international speakers and a wider audience. Turning the challenge into an opportunity yielded amazing results.

Bruno Marquez in Cobblestone Park, Te Aro

“Moving the Thinkers and Doers series online not only allowed us to meet more frequently, but we could really go global,” explains Bruno Marques,  Programme Director for Landscape Architecture at the Wellington School of Architecture.

“We sourced speakers from our personal networks and were able to bring researchers and practitioners from across the world together to debate, collaborate, and learn from each other. Some particular highlights have been Tim Waterman, Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture at the Bartlett School of Architecture; and Gareth Doherty, Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture at Harvard Graduate School of Design.

“A lot of our speakers are based overseas. We’ve had ones from Canada, the UK, Israel, Finland, and Lebanon, to name just a few. This has given our students and viewers, a valuable insight into international news and innovations in the landscape architecture industry. The students find that really helpful, as many of them intend to go into practice overseas once they’ve qualified.”

The series, which ran throughout 2020, attracted an audience split pretty evenly split between New Zealanders and those living overseas. It attracted a mix of scholars, qualified landscape architects and students.

“The series has been particularly helpful for our Master of Landscape Architecture students,” says Marques. “They find the research shared really valuable and many appreciate the lectures being recorded and stored online. They say it helps them refer back when working on their own research, though I imagine it’s more to do with not wanting to get up for the 8am livestream! We’ve now launched our Master of Landscape Architecture programme in Auckland so having firms from there represented has been a really valuable way to build our industry connections ahead of welcoming our first cohort to the city.”

Plans are underway to run a similar series this year, with the International Federation of Landscape Architects looking to become involved.

This story was originally published on Landscape Architecture Aotearoa.