Reciprocal Benefits of Student Service-Learning in Addressing the Needs of Heritage Landscapes
• Cecilia Rusnak, Brian Orland The Pennsylvania State University, State College, Pennsylvania, USA • Jan Hendrych Silva Tarouca Botanical Research Institute, Pruhonice, Czech Republic • Supported by: • The Heinz Endowments, and • The Graduate College, Penn State
Benefits to study participants
• For both students and citizens:
– Active engagement in meaningful design and planning experiences.
– Diaries, sketchbooks, video, poster displays, reports, – And perhaps: understanding, empathy, transferable skills, commitment.
– Plans, strategies, visions, reports, – And perhaps: new approaches, capacity building, confidence, resolve.
Cesky Raj (the Bohemian Paradise)
• Northern Czech Republic. • Two centuries of tourism associated with natural landscape of “rock cities,” sandstone cliffs, caves, tunnels, and rock windows. • Medieval castle ruins, chateaux, and traditional Bohemian villages. • Czech Protected Landscape Area targets both cultural and natural resources for protection. • Proposed for application for inscription on the World Heritage List for its natural landscape properties.
Rock cities, Chateaux, Villages
Cesky Raj viewed from Trosky Castle
• The Administration of Protected Landscape Areas cannot implement management practices until land use plans for local communities and sites are drawn up and approved. • Completion of each community plan is uncertain— there are limited government resources for this task. • Community-based action could fill this planning void but in the Czech Republic many years of centralized planning have led to few having the skills to organize citizens in collective and collaborative planning. • Citizens do not know how to systematically collect and use information to achieve planning goals.
Service Learning Pedagogy
• “The task of a University is to weld together imagination and experience” Alfred North Whitehead, 1929. • John Dewey (1916) noted the importance not only of action and experience but also of reflection on those experiences as parts of the learning process. • Service learning includes the engagement of students and faculty with real community problems and issues, and reciprocal community involvement in study, learning, and problem-solving activities.
Service Learning in the University
• The pedagogical value of posing design problems in the real-world settings of inner-city or depressed rural communities has been matched by the willingness, often enthusiasm, of those communities to be the location of studies. • Through learning side-by-side, citizens and students learn about what needs to be done and by necessity learn how to motivate and mobilize change. • Service–learning builds knowledge and encourages the development of personal, social, and cognitive abilities. • This active learning results in productive studentfaculty learning and teaching interactions, and enhanced communication and critical thinking skills.
Study Abroad as Service Learning
• Immersion in the issues of problem solving in an unfamiliar and changing setting enables students to achieve a focus on active learning impossible to achieve in a campus-based academic schedule. • Away from competing classes, social schedules and other distractions it is possible to implement an ideal model of active learning – directed preparation, participation in community-based problem-solving, followed by structured reflection – without the usual curricular constraints of compartmentalized classes.
Study Abroad as a Service Learning Vehicle for Penn State
• Penn State’s Sede di Roma program, in downtown Rome, offers few chances for design intervention, and few opportunities for engaged service. • The Central European Linkage Program, CELP, an initiative of the Heinz Endowments enables Pittsburgh professionals to bring community design processes to bear on the problems of communities in the Czech Republic long denied design and planning services. • Those locations, rich with cultural and historical resources, challenge designers and planners to balance the need to change with the times with the need to preserve and restore their heritage settings.
Case Studies in the Czech Republic
• Eight students self-selected to participate in the Czech program -- a collaboration of the Silva Tarouca Research Institute, the Administration of Protected Landscape Areas and the Department of Landscape Architecture at Penn State. • Two landscapes were studied:
– One by means of an intensive two-day ideageneration workshop. In this case the “community” consisted of professionals seeking advice on land use and landscape management. – A second landscape was studied over a longer term— three weeks. Here there were two communities, one a group of professionals, the other a community of residents.
1 — Castle Humprect in Sobotka
• Managers sought a plan for the surrounding forest— to defuse a conflict of interest between the foresters’ production practices, protection of the historic monument, and conservation of nature and historic landscape character.
Castle Humprect - restoring views
2 — Klokoci and Rotstejn
• A buffer zone valley adjacent to the Klokocske Scaly rock formation. Villages maintain a traditional organic settlement pattern and older architectural styles. The landscape of fields and orchards reveals traces of long-established strip field patterns.
Challenges in Klokoci
• Absence of a land use plan has led Klokoci to approve unrestricted development that contrasted with the natural and cultural landscape values. • Increased tourism and community growth are exacting pressure on the area’s natural and cultural resources, resulting in ill-prepared new development.
Klokoci: Maintain traditional patterns
• Students collaborated with the Administration and community representatives to address the increasing demands placed on this landscape. • Visualization of scenarios enables all participants to see how management practices, or lack thereof, would affect the region and its people.
Klokoci: Maintain traditional patterns
The Students’ Role
• Students developed landscape and visual character analyses for two sites within the Cesky Raj Protected Landscape Area. • Students modeled approaches and techniques amenable to adoption at the village level—an important first step toward creating workable land use and management plans. • A team approach to problem-solving enabled ideas to be more fully considered than if students and citizens had worked as individuals. • The liaison of State agency, community and University may provide a model for assisting emerging countries in their goals for protecting heritage landscapes and at the same time meeting important educational goals.
Outcomes: Student Experiences
• Concepts about the roles of designers of the built environment were broadened and deepened. • Team-based workshop setting revealed the value of considering genuine differences and led to more inclusive views of the roles of citizens and professionals in community planning. • The designer's role was expanded to include understanding and responding to social structure as well as physical structures.
• In spite of dramatic change in Eastern Europe, the rich heritage was evident in cities and countryside. • Many of these places are successfully marketed to tourists, offering the amenities and settings to which visitors are drawn. Other places are just beginning a deliberate effort to become a magnet for heritage tourism. Still others may be reluctant to make their sites accessible, preferring to maintain the status quo as much as possible. • In emerging societies such as the Czech Republic, daily life for many is still a struggle. Students from westernized countries recognized that many of the simplest goods or services taken for granted at home were unavailable to the average person.
• Walking in unfamiliar places and making sensory connections made students feel alive and refreshed. • Observing government and economic structures, students could discern, simultaneously, optimism in, cautious acceptance of, and resentment of capitalist ideals and practices. • Tourism often results in the commodification of a region's culture, and a consequence of this can be erosion of the community's authenticity. • Interacting with Czechs in these processes was invaluable to an understanding of the sites studied, and to the realization that intervention must come from the place and its people.
Outcomes: Community benefits
• At the heart of service-learning is the development of reciprocal benefits for students and the service recipients. • In Turnov, the collaboration exceeded expectations. The design accomplishments identified through the group processes benefited all participants. • Property owners in Klokoci are considering plans that will be more compatible with the unique values of the surrounding protected land and are in line with the goals of the Administration. • The students’ active collaboration and close team work inspired community representatives as well as the Administration staff. An ability to cooperate in a close-knit setting is the most important advantage realized from working on these projects.
Outcomes: Institutional benefits
• Service-learning situations provide an environment where judgment can be exercised and refined, not only with feedback and evaluation by the professor but with the insights and multiple perspectives of community members. • The benefits of active learning—deeper insights and engagement with the topic—are dramatically heightened in the study abroad/service learning situation. Empathy for the host community brings a deepened interest in learning and working for positive change. • Service learning integrates Teaching, Research and Service. The explicitly interdisciplinary, intercultural and international elements of this work offer truly transformative learning experiences for students.
Conclusions and implications
• Heritage landscapes in emerging or developing economies are resource-poor. Concurrently, the teaching situations in many North American Universities are experience-poor. • Campuses are predominantly suburban and distant from the challenges of either vibrant urban centers or declining rural communities. The daily acquaintances of the students are much like themselves in dress, accent and attitudes. Servicelearning in a study abroad setting brings quasiprofessional services to needy situations that in turn provide a richness of setting and immediacy to the relevance of students’ studies.
Conclusions and implications
• More than perhaps anything else we do, the restoration and preservation of cultural landscapes embodies values at the core of the host community, that speak with clarity, urgency and immediacy to students imbued with idealistic motivations. • In a world where there are too few resources to address problems, this model should be considered carefully by historic preservation interests and by agencies seeking to leverage the greatest possible benefit from limited means.
• Brian Orland Department of Landscape Architecture The Pennsylvania State University, State College, Pennsylvania, USA email@example.com http://www.larch.psu.edu