This course introduces the major histories and theories guiding “precinct”-level design works from both Western and non-Western perspectives. “Precinct” implies a district-scale of design somewhere between buildings and cities. As such, we will focus on the fields of landscape architecture and urban design, including: small domestic gardens, estates, city parks, national parks, greenways, urban design plans, and sustainable and restorative designs. Ultimately, these works are an assembly of cultural and ecological processes, social values, and economic and political forces. Through the examination of different movements and periods, we will explore changes and continuity in our thinking about landscape architecture and urban design.

By the end of this course, students will be able to:

  1. Identify major historical and theoretical movements in landscape architecture and urban design, and relate each to its cultural, environmental, intellectual, economic, and political contexts.

  2. Describe the main concepts undergirding many precinct-level designs – explaining the processes by which human creativity and agency invest capital resources and artistic expression into recognizable, meaningful designs.

  3. Diagram a clear framework of processes, ideas, elements, periods, and geographic regions in which the rich diversity of landscape, urban design, and their histories can be organized and understood across time.

  4. Analyze the underlying principles of landscape and urban designs and investigate their larger cultural contexts


Course assignments are mainly geared towards increasing reading comprehension and critical thinking skills in preparation for History and Theory of ENVD: Cities.

Weekly Quizzes

Weekly quizzes will be administered through Canvas. Quizzes are three-attempt maximum. As such, quizzes are more like homework assignments designed to help you master key concepts covered in class and in your readings. Quizzes open every Tuesday at 9am, remain open for one week, and close the following Tuesday at 9am.

Clicker Questions

Between 3-5 Clicker questions will be asked every class period. These questions will not be graded for correctness. Instead, you will receive one point each class for participating in the Clicker questions. Clicker questions are meant to help you test your understanding of lecture materials and, oftentimes, to poll the class during in-class debates. With Canvas, students may choose to purchase an iClicker or they may subscribe to the iClicker app to participate.

Comprehension Essays

Three five-page essays will be due throughout the semester. These essays test critical thinking and comprehension of readings, building upon the quizzes. For each essay, you will be provided with two to three possible prompts to respond to. Select one of the prompts and choose at least three readings from class to use in your response.

Midterm and Final Exams

Two exams will be administered throughout the semester, one midterm exam and one final exam. These exams are administered in-class via scantron as multiple-choice, true/false, and matching questions. If you will need special accommodations for these exams, please contact the instructor.


This course draws from both primary and secondary sources. As such, thoroughly reading all assigned texts is vitally important to success in this course. All readings will be posted as PDFs on Canvas, except for texts from the required textbook (due to copyright laws). Readings from the textbook are marked as “Reader” and PDFs are marked as “Canvas” on the course schedule.

  • Required Text:
    • Michael Larice & Elizabeth Macdonald (Eds.). The Urban Design Reader, Second Edition. (2013). New York: Routledge.
  • On Reserve at Norlin Library:
    • Michael Larice & Elizabeth Macdonald (Eds.). The Urban Design Reader, Second Edition. (2013). New York: Routledge.
    • Elizabeth B. Rogers. Landscape Design: A Cultural and Architectural History. (2001). New York: Abrams Press.
  • iClicker+: Required for in-class participation and attendance


This semester we will be using Canvas, CU Boulder’s new learning management system. We will be using Canvas to conduct quizzes, organize readings, and upload assignments. To access Canvas, go to: https://canvas.colorado.edu. Log-in using your CU login name and IdentiKey password. Once you log-in, click on ENVD3134-001 to go into our course. Make the most out of Canvas by:

  • Downloading the Canvas Student App to view your grades, view course materials, submit assignments, take quizzes, and more.
  • Subscribing to notifications to be reminded of due dates, receive announcements, and check grades.
  • Browsing the Canvas Guides or help videos for information on how to use Canvas.