Tree Stories: Seeing the wood for the trees and the trees for the wood

Discussions about the urban forest and tree canopy, carbon sequestration, sustainability, and tree adoption programs are becoming more prevalent by the day. In this seminar we will explore the evolution of this green heritage in our designed landscapes. The course explores the use and meaning of trees in designed rural and urban landscapes throughout the ages. It deals with the tree landscapes of a variety of scales, and explores the different meanings and functions that these landscapes and their designs have embodied at different moments of time. From a single tree, to tree rows, clumps, grids, quincunx, groves, woods, and forests, trees have been dominant features in our designed landscapes for millennia. Trees have been planted and uprooted to stake out territory and create place, and they have been used to forge and obscure identities. They have provided sustenance and essential building and design materials. They have been the origin and subject of myths and legends, and of war and peace. They have inspired architects, designers, gardeners, scientists, artists, and musicians, and they are what many designed landscapes are made of. In lectures and seminar discussions, the course will explore the role of trees in landscape and environmental history. Students will work on a “tree story” in the form of an essay, research paper, or creative project, and will present their work in class.