For the last four years, Associate Professor and Department Chair Ken Yocom has brought an interdisciplinary group of students out to the Olympic Peninsula for a summer course titled “Reading the Elwha.” During a week of hiking, observing the landscape and field meetings with local scientists, land managers, and tribal members, students explore concepts of Nature and the evolving human relationship with the environment in a watershed marked by the largest dam removal project in US history.
Monica Taylor, a student in the course and recent BLA graduate, shared some of her experience in this reflection and images from her sketchbook, composed on the trip:
Going on the Elwha River trip as a third-year BLA was an unexpectedly moving and reaffirming experience for me. Students in their final quarters are often so laser-focused on Design Build or graduate thesis that sometimes our core drives can get lost in the shuffle. Reconsidering familiar texts and theories from the very beginning of the program gave me an opportunity to reconnect with personal goals and attachments within landscape architecture. The class brings together large concepts in ecological resiliency with community-specific restoration discourse, directly engaging all students with the possibilities and impacts of landscape professionals. I would strongly encourage all cohorts within the program to participate in this truly special experience.