Providing Authentic Learning Experiences: Bo Yang, Professor of Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning
SEVEN QUESTIONS WITH BO YANG, Professor of Landscape Architecture
“Providing authentic learning opportunities and experiences to students when working with low-income and underserved communities is the most fulfilling part of my service work.”
What brought you to the College of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture, and what year did you join the college?
I joined CAPLA in 2017. I am interested in interdisciplinary collaboration opportunities in research and teaching for landscape architecture and planning. CAPLA and the University of Arizona offer rich opportunities for this.
What is your current research, and what most excites you about these areas of focus?
My current research areas are urban green infrastructure and landscape performance evaluation, especially focusing on stormwater management and climate resilience. About one-third of UArizona faculty members are also conducting research related to water, climate and environment—and I find that very exciting.
What is your current service work, and what most excites you about this work?
I am involved in community outreach activities and design services to low-income and underserved communities. The most fulfilling part of this work is providing authentic learning opportunities and experiences to students when working with and serving these communities. For example, I worked with CAPLA students to create a green infrastructure masterplan for the Star Academic High School in South Tucson. Phase I of the project has been constructed and Landscape Architecture Magazine featured the project in July 2019.*
Star Academic High School Phase 1 Plan
What are you currently teaching, and what do you most enjoy about teaching?
I teach design studio and lecture courses, including LAR 511 Design Studio II, LAR 623 Landscape Planning Studio, PLG 580 Environmental Spatial Analysis, and LAR 612 Design Studio V. I also enjoy interacting with students from other studios in both architecture and landscape architecture and planning. For me, the most enjoyable or rewarding moment is when students receive awards and recognition for their work or land jobs. Student teams I’ve guided have received five awards from the Arizona Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects and four awards from the Environmental Protection Agency’s RainWorks Challenge green infrastructure design competition.
How do you bring your research and service into your teaching?
I regularly update my course materials to encompass emerging topics and best practices for studio teaching. For example, I constantly integrate materials into my instruction for students to become familiar with the contents and requirements of the Landscape Architecture Registration Exam. I also invite guest speakers and reviewers to help broaden our views and perspectives and stay current in the industry. I bring in new collaboration opportunities when I see a good fit to the course learning objectives. Currently, for example, I am collaborating with colleagues in the UArizona Department of Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences to model hydrologic performance of green infrastructure design scenarios that landscape architecture students prepared.
Beyond research, service and teaching, what are your passions?
I hope to travel more with my family to experience Sonoran Desert landscapes and the Western states.
What does the CAPLA experience mean for you?
CAPLA nurtures a collegial and supportive academic environment.
To learn more, view Bo Yang's faculty page.
* Star Academic High School Project credit: Landscape architecture graduate students (2017). Key collaborators/co-advisors: Adriana Zuniga (assistant research scientist, CAPLA and Udall Center, UArizona), Andrea Gerlak (associate professor, School of Geography and Development, UArizona), Joaquin Murrieta-Saldivar (cultural ecologist, Watershed Management Group) and Star Academic High School faculty, staff and students.