Since 2011, FIU landscape architecture students have been learning to use three-dimensional modeling software through assignments that incorporate The Wolfsonian-FIU’s collections. The Wolfsonian Curriculum Development Grant, supported by a three-year, $500,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, made it possible for Ebru Özer, Assistant Professor in the Department of Landscape Architecture, to develop a new graduate course that enhances students’ learning by forging a connection with the museum’s collections.
The grant, awarded in 2009 and renewed in 2012, is intended to strengthen the academic role of the museum’s collections and programs. It supports funding to faculty who develop courses that use the collections, exhibitions from the collections presented at the Frost Art Museum and workshops on methods of material and visual culture studies for graduate students. The grant also helps fund the salaries of several staff members who work to make the collections accessible to FIU students and faculty members.
Enriched Student Learning and Pedagogy
Özer, who has been teaching FIU courses in landscape architectural design, landscape technology and construction, and advanced digital representation since 2007, said that receiving the grant has significantly enhanced her relationship with the museum and has positively impacted both her teaching and her students’ learning.
“During the grant period, I regularly visited The Wolfsonian and was able to work closely with its staff members. Through this experience, my eyes were opened to the incredible resources available through the museum…. Along with my increased understanding of the museum’s resources from my visits, I also significantly improved my personal knowledge of modernism, modern art and architecture,” she said.
Özer’s students have also gained a greater understanding of the museum’s resources and increased their enthusiasm for both the course and the museum. Out of the fifteen graduate students who took her course during the Spring 2012 semester, only one had previously visited The Wolfsonian. Özer taught the course again in Spring 2013.
“By offering classes inside the museum conference room, and assigning research projects utilizing the object and library collections, I was able to introduce them to the facilities and staff members, and bring them into close contact with the museum’s collections,” Özer said.
A member of several organizations, including the Florida Native Plant Society, American Society of Landscape Architects, Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture, Sigma Lambda Alpha National Honor Society, and Turkish Architects’ and Engineers’ Association, Özer shared how the grant has impacted her pedagogy.
“The grant also helped me to develop new teaching methods and strategies. By incorporating The Wolfsonian’s collection as a structuring element for the content of my computer-modeling course, LAA 5381, I was able to heighten the value of the course instruction to students by connecting the technical knowledge taught in the course with historical design perspectives.…” said Özer, who received her Bachelor of Architecture from Dokuz Eylul University in Turkey and her Master of Landscape Architecture from Louisiana State University.
“I am grateful to the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and The Wolfsonian for having had the opportunity to participate in this great program. I hope this initiative continues and provides more opportunities to other faculty members and students,” she said.