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Landscape Studies

Faculty committee: J. F. Cerra, chair

The research honors program in landscape studies offers outstanding undergraduates in CALS the opportunity to work with a member of the landscape architecture faculty to pursue supervised, independent research in design, the cultural landscape, landscape archaeology, environmental design, or community-based planning and design. The guidance and supervision of a faculty member with substantial interest and relevant expertise is essential to the success of the project. Depending upon the student’s interests, the subject matter and nature of the research may be quite varied. Students participating in the program should find the experience intellectually stimulating and rewarding, whether or not they intend to pursue a research career. Honors-level research requires significant effort and creative input by the student in its design, execution, and reporting of results.

Application Requirements and Procedures

Any CALS student may apply to the landscape studies research honors program; the student need not be a landscape architecture major. The requirements for honors research are above and beyond any of the requirements for graduation in the major of landscape architecture. The program involves several deadlines and considerable dedication, time, and effort. Before committing to research honors, students must consult with their academic advisor to ensure that honors projects will not interfere with other academic or professional objectives, such as job applications, preparation of portfolios, or application to graduate school; such tasks may need to be deferred until the thesis is complete. Students are responsible for meeting deadlines and being prepared for presentations and meetings.

Although honors research credits for spring semester junior year and both semesters senior year are designated a letter grade, individual mentors may choose the R grade for “work in progress” until the project has been fully completed. Grades are determined by each student’s mentor. The designation of “distinction in research” on the diploma is awarded at the recommendation of the faculty advisor and other referees to the honors committee chair.

The Landscape Studies Research Honors Committee requires interested students to proceed with the following steps:

  • Junior year: Identify a potential faculty mentor and secure his or her commitment to sponsor the honors research project. This task should be accomplished early in the second semester of the junior year and be finalized by the end of the spring semester.
  • Work with faculty mentor to identify and formulate a research problem. If the faculty advisor is not in the Department of Landscape Architecture, a co-advisor from the department should be selected to ensure that the research is consistent with the field.
  • Submit a completed application and proposal, approved by the honors project supervisor and the chair of the research honors committee, no later than the end of the fourth week of the first semester of the senior year. Earlier submissions are encouraged. Applications will be reviewed by ad hoc committee members, and successful thesis proposals will be submitted to the college honors committee by the sixth week.

Honors Degree Requirements

Students who are accepted into the Landscape Studies Research Honors Program must complete the following in order to graduate with Distinction in Research:

  • Complete an independent research effort that is original and separate from the work of others who may be investigating similar subjects.
  • Give two oral presentations to the group of other honors research students and invited faculty members. Both presentations are during the student’s senior year.
  • Submit an outline of the thesis to the chair of the committee by the end of January for a May graduation.
  • Submit a draft to the readers by April 15. Describe and summarize the work within the range of formats used in the master’s thesis program or professional journals in design or research. This version will be reviewed by the faculty supervisor and two ad hoc reviewers, and the student will be able to incorporate the committee’s comments and suggestions into the final version. The final thesis document is due on the last day of classes. Referees will prepare a recommendation to the honors committee chair regarding the acceptability of the honors thesis.
  • Send one bound copy of the completed and defended thesis to the honors committee chair by May 13.
  • Students may volunteer to publish their thesis at eCommons Cornell University Library, as long as doing so does not interfere with other plans, such as patenting or publishing in another journal. A permission form can be obtained from the honors committee chair.
  • Each year, in recognition of student honors research achievements, CALS prints a booklet of honors theses abstracts (CALS Research Honors Abstracts). Students are responsible for submitting their formatted abstracts in accordance with abstract publication instructions.