From 2015 to 2019, a CSLA task force investigated the importance of research to scholars of landscape architecture and to the profession generally and investigated challenges and constraints that scholars in landscape architecture have in obtaining funding for research.
The task force questioned:
- Which funding council should be approached for landscape architecture research projects? (landscape architecture is a discipline that does not easily fit into one funding council or another)
- Are the councils’ staff and adjudicating committees properly briefed to determine the eligibility of landscape architecture proposals? (as a smaller non-traditional academic discipline, not all committee members may be in a position of understanding the proposed research)
- Are landscape architecture research proposals reviewed by landscape architects or those in related cognate fields?
A Survey of Landscape Architecture Scholars
In the Spring of 2017, the task force launched a survey of Canadian landscape architecture researchers and asked about their success in obtaining research funding from the following national Tri-Council scholarly funding bodies:
- Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC)
- National Science and Engineering Research Council (NSERC)
- Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).
The researchers’ responses made it apparent that Tri-Council funding is a real issue derived either from the eligibility of research projects in landscape architecture when applying to any of these councils, or a lack of understanding of landscape architecture at the committee review stage. The results have typically been either an ineligibility ruling or the project being declined.
Finally, the task force concluded that:
- Funding in scholarly landscape architecture research from SSHRC, NSERC and CIHR is essential for the continued growth of the profession by creating publicly-funded, discipline-specific knowledge. This is a tangible benefit to society and the environment.
- The lack of tri-council funding is an important and consistent issue with landscape architecture scholars.
- Research by landscape architecture scholars is being funded and published by other agencies, proving that it is a legitimate and valued area of research, but since universities value and prioritize Tri-Council funding, this needs to be emphasized more.
- Finally, there is a gap in scholarly landscape architecture work, whereby it is expected that researchers should apply for and obtain Tri-Council funding, and yet there is inadequate recognition of the discipline by the Councils and therefore limited opportunity for success. While the Councils claim that interdisciplinary work is important, those fields are not represented on the adjudication committees, and the programs do not, in practice, support those proposals to the same degree that is claimed. Tri-Council Funding is a central component of the universities’ research agenda – it is therefore essential that landscape architecture scholars access that funding.