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Rhode Island School of Design and University of Rhode Island to Offer Joint Program on Coastal Sustainability

Beginning in fall 2019, RISD’s Landscape Architecture and URI’s Marine Affairs departments invite students to learn interdisciplinary approaches to coastal environmental issues

PROVIDENCE, RI - Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and University of Rhode Island (URI) are set to launch a joint graduate-level coastal sustainability program in fall 2019. This unique initiative between the RISD Landscape Architecture and URI Marine Affairs departments will prepare students to understand issues affecting coastal environments from a range of vantage points. Building on a strong record of cross-disciplinary collaboration between the two institutions, it will also expand Rhode Island’s growing reputation for advancing sustainability.

Beginning in their final year at RISD, graduate students in Landscape Architecture who are accepted to and enroll in the joint program will take Marine Affairs courses at URI to enhance their design education with related expertise in social science, economics, policy, planning and law. After completing the program, they will graduate with two advanced degrees—a Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA) from RISD and a Master of Marine Affairs (MMA) from URI.

“Increasingly, we need to adopt interdisciplinary approaches to complex environmental issues,” says RISD Landscape Architecture department head Emily Vogler. “Landscape Architecture has a long history of addressing coastal issues, both in Rhode Island and around the world.”

In recent years, RISD Landscape Architecture has offered several courses focused on Rhode Island’s Narragansett Bay in which students apply design thinking to issues of coastal deterioration. It is through these projects the department began exploring a formal partnership between Landscape Architecture and URI—a significant step in extending the reach of RISD’s research agenda.

“Finding better ways to deliver information to experts, practitioners and the public is essential,” says URI Marine Affairs graduate program director Austin Becker. “Students will gain valuable, timely knowledge for creating the best designs for coastal environments, and will learn how to execute their vision within complex regulatory contexts.” He and Vogler also anticipate that student research will inspire innovative collaborations between faculty in both departments.

“We hope to curate a conversation around the changes occurring along our coasts and learn what the landscape architecture field can contribute to and gain from collaborating with people in allied professions,” notes Vogler. “It’s a matter of saying, ‘Here’s an issue that’s extremely complex—so how do we work together to address it?’”

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About Rhode Island School of Design
The mission of RISD (pronounced “RIZ-dee”), through its college and museum, is to educate students and the public in the creation and appreciation of works of art and design, to discover and transmit knowledge and to make lasting contributions to a global society through critical thinking, scholarship and innovation. Our immersive model of art and design education emphasizes robust liberal arts studies and conceptually driven studio-based learning in full-time bachelor's and master's degree programs across 19 majors. RISD's exceptional faculty foster student growth and development in extensive specialized facilities, enabling students to become confident, cross-disciplinary thinkers and nimble problem-solvers ready to confront the complexities of global practice in the 21st century. More than 27,000 alumni worldwide testify to the impact of a RISD education, exemplifying the vital role artists and designers play in defining global innovation. Founded in 1877, RISD and the RISD Museum help make Providence, RI among the most culturally active and creative cities in the region. For more information, visit risd.edu and our.risd.edu.