CED’s Korean Connection


The CED welcomes Professor Jin-Wook Kwon as a visiting scholar from Korea for the academic year, 2016-2017. He is here, specifically, to study the evolution of the curriculum of the CED’s landscape architecture program and explore the agents of its change since the 1970s. His research will entail reviewing our courses of study, interviewing current and retired faculty, and observing studio classes as they are taught now. His research will be presented in a formal paper next year, but he also hopes it will help him make the case for change at his own university in Korea. Basically, we are his case study, so we hope the CED community will be generous with its time and knowledge about the discipline as it is taught here.

Through an acquaintance, Kwon asked the internationally recognized landscape architect Jusuck Koh which school of landscape architecture in the U.S. was the best to use as a case study in curriculum development. Koh, who taught at UGA in the late 1970s and early 80s, recommended CED. (Koh is also from Korea and now practices in Amsterdam; he is recognized for his work on Ulsan Grand Park in Ulsan, Korea, among other large-scale ecological projects.) Professor Sungkyung Lee is serving as Professor Kwon’s host colleague here at the college.

Kwon holds degrees from the National School of Architecture Paris-Val de Seine, the National School of Architecture in Nancy, Seoul National University, and YeungNam University in Korea. He has practiced landscape design for several years and now serves on the faculty of YeungNam University in Daegu City, Korea. He is the author of several scholarly articles on international parks and gardens.

“I hope my research here concerning landscape architecture education will help me understand how to bring change to curriculums. As designers we now must deal with climate change and changes in technology. These must be reflected in our teaching, along with other current concerns,” he says. The landscape architecture program at YeunNam University was started in 1972 and he feels it has not responded adequately to the changes brought about by these important forces. He would like to see more of a focus on sustainable design, and hopes to take that message back to his colleagues along with a better understanding of how the CED matured as a college.

At YeungNam University the four-year curriculum includes two years of basic design and CAD along with garden design and the essentials of site planning. In the third year, students focus on large scale design, including urban parks, plazas, memorials, and other public spaces. The fourth year is dedicated to a single capstone project that undergoes at least seven rigorous critiques over the course of the year. One of the things he has noticed is that his students hit a creativity wall in their final semesters. “Once they have the basics, they are thwarted by the need to think in original ways. I want to have a curriculum that helps them learn to think creatively and critically, so that solutions aren’t limited by convention.”

Jin-Wook Kwon can be reached at JinWook.Kwon@nulluga.edu. Please welcome Jin-Wook Kwon to the CED.