Looking for Study Topics

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  • #171812

    I’m finishing up my MLA this spring, and due to an error in communication my entire class has been found to be 3 credits shy of the requirement. So, I find myself trying to put together an independent study at the last minute. I thought I would tap the land8 brain-trust and see what y’all think would be an interesting topic.

    Here are some of the things that interest me, but feel free to stray outside the list:

    I’m an arborist and am writing my thesis on designing sustainable urban forests, so if I can double dip on the research it would be nice.

    I’m going to the University of Florida and there is a lot of research on stormwater, greenroofs etc… so any related research would be warmly received.

    I do love history, particularly ancient Greece and Rome, so historical research might be fun.

    So, put some ideas out there and I’ll let you know what I decide.

    Trace One

    say please.

    Tanya Olson

    Maybe this is already an area of study in FL, but your location makes me wonder about sustainable urban forests in areas with close-to-surface groundwater. Understand – all I’ve seen of development in FL is islands and channels…What if boulevards were planted with cypress and were also water channels – like Venice filled with wetland trees….
    Maybe thats too wacky – just letting my imagination run….


    sorry if the tone was abrupt, I need emoticons 🙂


    Cool idea. It reminds me of the floating agricultural islands in Mexico.


    Meh, I say postpone your graduation as long as you can! You can see what the job market is like!

    Are you looking into permaculture concepts at all?

    When I was with the NJDOT we would do little wetlands within highway cloverleaf loops, and Bald Cypress was often a tree of choice. Yes, they can grow that far north. Wetlands like that aren’t much good for habitat value, but were good for filtering runoff.

    Brent Jacobsen

    I guess I am wondering more about your final project – what components of sustainable urban forestry are you studying? Tree selection, installation, maintenance, and survival? Community involvement and organizing? Effects of an urban forest on sustainability such as stormwater management, urban heat island, etc.?

    Depending on your topic, I could see exploring uses for an urban forest to promote sustainability in a broader sense to support initiatives like urban agriculture or habitat provision. Might even look at Greek and Roman use of fruit-bearing trees (olives for instance), or other historic perspectives, and see how those might be able to work into an urban forest to increase local food production. Maybe double dip on your interest in history and a sustainable urban forest. Also, there has been a great rise in urban forest non-profit initiatives that have been really successful in building urban tree canopies through community involvement and ongoing care.

    I also worked on green roofs for my MLA, and would encourage further work there if you are interested. One leading edge area is using habitat provision for green roofs, and of course increased regional prototypes are desperately needed if you have time to research potential FL specific components.

    Good luck with the research – should be fun.

    Andrew Garulay, RLA

    How about an in depth critique of a built landscape? This was something that was required in our senior studio when I was in school. I found it to be a much more eye opening project than expected. Our assignment was to select any built landscape and then research the project, try to interview people involved (client, designers, contractors,…. end users), come up with a criteria for evaluating it (basically giving it a grade), and then putting it together into a presentation. Consider something built on campus or close to home where you can access people and information on the project. …. it could even be a sustainable urban forest project, or green roof, or stormwater….

    Just a thought.

    Trace One

    Florida to me is all about invasive species (animals). How about something with the symbiosis between urban forests and the species that survive in them (animals) (or Don’t survive in them.)

    Urban forests and the abiltily to support endangered plant species. Urban forests and projected changes through rising water tables (? just geussing). Replicating natural patterns in the urban forest – (purely a pattern investigation – could be fun drawings!)..

    compare and contrast roman aqueducts and the florida water-supply system (now I’m reaching!)…
    Good luck! Thanks for the ‘please’..!


    Thanks Brent, I really like your idea of working with community groups. My thesis work is primarily a study in implementation. I’m working with a small beach side resort town to revise all of their mechanisms that deal with the forest: codes/ordinances, management plan, budgeting etc… It’s all about what a municipality can do to effect change within the urban forest. So, I had planned on putting together a section on creating a tree board or community council, but leaving most of the actual work to the city. Maybe I’ll look into getting the legwork started on this thing.


    This could be a good opportunity to learn a bit about construction as well. Taking some time to talk to the contractors could pay off as I might have to do some design build for awhile considering the job market.

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