Students in the UC Davis Landscape Architecture program receive a global perspective through exchange programs with international universities, class projects tackling sites outside the U.S. and spending a quarter or summer studying abroad. Landscape Architecture faculty regularly lead summer courses that offer experiential learning in Europe.

Sustainable Cities of Northern Europe, annually chaperoned in the summer by Professor Jeff Loux, examines principles of sustainability as they apply to urban areas. Students explore several cities within four northern European countries each widely recognized for their efforts to become more sustainable. Participants learn sustainable measures; to quickly "read" cities and recognize how they function; gain insight into how European communities have embraced sustainable concepts; and how to translate these lessons to U.S. cities.

Additionally, professor David de la Peña leads a Summer Abroad Program in Barcelona, Spain, focused on urbanism and innovations in housing and community development. Here, students learn in the best way possible—out in the real world, touring public spaces and projects with local designers, planners, and activists. Plus, they get enjoy the beautiful city of Barcelona for a month—strolling its lively Ramblas, visiting Gaudi’s Parc Güell, experiencing Spanish food and culture—all while living just blocks from the Mediterranean.

Recently some of our students and two professors dashed off to the Netherlands.  Emily Johnson was kind enough to give us an idea of what they encountered.

Also, in 2007, senior Landscape Architecture students Brendan Ehlermann and Laura Podolsky spent the fall at the Santa Chiara Study Center in the town of Castiglion Fiorentino, just one hour south of Florence and two hours north of Rome.

The Santa Chiara complex, which houses all classes, lectures, and studio practicums as well as the dormitory, dining, and administration facilities, is a recently renovated historic facility perched atop the edge of the town overlooking the Val di Chiano Valley. With structural sections dating back to the Renaissance, this former girls' academy provides an idyllic setting for study and is only a few hours away from major cultural centers. The program presents students with a unique understanding of Italy's profound influence on the development of Western civilization through the exploration of art, history, architecture, philosophy, and culture.

What follows is Brendan Ehlermann's personal account of his quarter abroad.

Excellent meals are provided and I've been able to have my coffee overlooking the Val d' Chio every morning. It doesn't get much better.

A typical week consists of three full days of instruction from 8AM to 10PM. Coursework consists of studio, lecture, and Italian language class during the day and at night there is a drawing/painting art studio.

Each week there is a field trip by bus to a local site pertinent to landscape architecture as well as three-day weekends to surrounding areas. So far we've have been able to visit a number of cities, villas, and out of the way places. Their names speak for themselves: Florence, Cortona, Rome, Arezzo, Lucca, Pitigliano, Savona, Sorano, Pienza, Orvieto, Venice, Leto, Volterra, Lake Como, San Gimignano, Siena, Villa Hadrian, Villa d' Este, Villa Lante, Villa Fiesole, Villa Gamberia, Boboli Gardens, Saturnia, Civita d' Bagnoregio, Isola Elba. Additionally, a ten-day fall break allowed us time to visit more contemporary cities and landscapes in Barcelona, Rotterdam, Amsterdam, and Duisburg, Germany.

To visit Italy is pure luxury. Having the best climate of Europe, Italy is also a great home base so one may visit other places. For designers, Italy is full of inspiration. Beauty is everywhere. Pursuing this experience abroad I think is much like a hunter in search of tracks, in search of information that can only be absorbed by being there. There is much to learn from the form of the Italian landscape, its rough edges and urban social space.

When asked how other UC Davis students can prepare for study in Italy, Ehlermann responded, "Start with LDA 30: History of Landscape Architecture as well as basic site analysis found in LDA 70. Hand graphics are the standard at Santa Chiara so bring your pencils; there is time to sketch for the willfully minded."

For more information about studying abroad, please contact our program's Undergraduate Advisor at