Field Trips and Field Study

Fieldwork has been an important part of the Department’s pedagogy since its formation. Katherine D. Jones, one of the first instructors, required students to go outdoors to study trees and shrubs. She also began the tradition of LA 49, the summer field course that took students on tour throughout California. In more recent years, student travel has expanded to international locations for study and to apply their skills.[1]

Russ Beatty, MLA 1966, remembers his experience teaching in the field:

“I was assigned to teach LA 49, the summer noncredit field course required for undergraduates. For three weeks we toured the works of distinguished Bay Area landscape architects such as Bob Royston, Eckbo Dean Austin & Williams, Larry Halprin, and Peter Walker. A particular highlight of the course was spending a day with Thomas Church and touring some of his great gardens. The last week was spent backpacking in Yosemite, sketching and experiencing high country wilderness. Rain, lightning, steep trails, cooking meals over a fire, learning alpine plants, doctoring blisters, and the exhilaration of testing one’s endurance was a first for many in the class.”

CED Distinguished Alumna Achva Stein (BLA ’69) remembers, “Mai Arbegast was a force of nature...We sketched the trees on campus every week. By the end of the semester everyone, no matter what was his or her initial skill level in sketching, had at least two or three drawings good enough for framing...She created a form on which we had to describe the characteristics of the trees we saw in minute detail...Whenever I have encountered a new tree and tried to identify it, her voice rings in my ears: how would you describe the tree’s form? How high, how wide? What is the shape of the leaves, the fruit, the bark? Is it healthy? Does it have enough light? Is it overwatered?”

[1] Quotes are from essays by Russ Beatty and Achva Stein in Landscape at Berkeley.

Field Trips and Field Study