Officials organizing the 2017 annual CELA conference were pleased to host the largest conference in CELA history. Total registrations reached 701 delegates, from eighteen countries including 513 Chinese registrations, 188 internationals, and 111 students reflecting CELA’s increasing focus on student scholarship.
The conference was hosted by Tsinghua University, Beijing Forestry University and Peking University, all based in Beijing. Conference organizers included the Chinese Steering Committee of Landscape Architecture Education, the Chinese Steering Committee of Master of Landscape Architecture Education, the Education Committee of the Chinese Society of Landscape Architecture (CLAEC,) and the Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture (CELA.)
Organizers from the Chinese host institutions posed with the CELA Board of Directors at its annual meeting in Beijing.
Representatives from the Chinese organizations made presentations to CELA administrators at the conference, focusing on the rapid emergence of landscape architecture as a government-sanctioned profession in China. Led by Dr. Rui Yang of Tsinghua University, Vice President Xiong Li of Beijing Forestry University, and Dr. Binyi Liu of Tongii University, visiting international administrators were treated to a detailed history of the evolution of landscape architecture including the current status it holds in Chinese society.
CELA President (now Past President) Katya Crawford) was the principal spokesperson for CELA in Beijing. Crawford noted that the conference “…was an extraordinarily profound experience, both intellectually and culturally. Being able to see, hear, touch and taste (!) the physical and conceptual underpinnings of a landscape architecture education and practice in China gave us all a deeper understanding of the rich cultural context of our colleagues and students.”
Crawford also added that the conference “…provided greater insight into the 21st century issues we face as a global community. Additionally, the enthusiasm, generosity and wisdom of our hosts helped forge critical connections for future collaborations. In short, the conference theme of “bridging” was achieved on multiple fronts.”
CELA also hosted other organizational representatives from the US, Canada and Europe. President Vaughn Rinner, American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) and Susan Apollonio, ASLA’s Director of Education Programs played pivotal roles at the CELA Board meeting, in paper presentations at the conference, and in delivering a key note address to the assembled conference attendees.
Barbara Deutsch, Chief Executive Officer of the Landscape Architecture Foundation (LAF) was joined in Beijing by Heather Whitlow, LAF Director of Programs and Communications. Deutsch co-moderated a panel discussion with conference Secretary General, Dr. Xiaodi Zheng, on LAF’s New Landscape Declaration.
Dr. Jack Ahren, University of Massachusetts, represented the Landscape Architecture Accreditation Board (LAAB) at the CELA Board meeting as well as at the administrators’ meeting. Ahren reported on the latest data from the landscape architecture dashboard, an amalgamated data effort hosted by ASLA and contributed to by LAAB, ASLA and CELA. Dashboard updates are expected to become a regular part of future CELA conferences, offering the latest information on student numbers, graduates, education topics, and trends affecting the current and future status of the profession.
Sophia Meeres, University College Dublin, represented the European Council of Landscape Architecture Schools (ECLAS,) at the Beijing conference. Meeres noted that the experience demonstrated both the similarities and the unique differences in the priorities of landscape architecture around the world. CELA and ECLAS have recently entered into a commitment to provide representatives to each organization’s annual conference.
The 2018 Annual CELA Conference will be hosted by the Landscape Architecture Department of the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) in Blacksburg, Virginia, March 21-24. CELA will release details in Fall 2017.