College of Architecture & Planning
Helsinki, Finland 2007-2008
Themes of Modernity and Landscape of Movement: The Lansivayla Highway
Finland was not a new experience for Ann Komara, associate professor of urban design. Komara had co-taught many Study Abroad programs that introduced students to Finnish architecture, landscape, design and culture. Usually, she experienced Finland in the summer, so arriving in Helsinki to the deep dark and heavy snows of early January set the stage for a wonderfully different entrée. During her Fulbright semester, she encountered many opportunities to "get beyond the surface and participate in an active academic and professional community – to be a part of the daily life".
Komara received a warm reception at HUT and a very capable pair of teaching assistants who helped her to become acclimated quickly. Her classrooms were filled with eager and talented students, and she also had the opportunity to take a language class.
Komara taught two related courses on American Landscape Architecture, the content beginning with Jefferson and emphasizing the 20th century from the founding of the ASLA to the present. The lectures were open to not only students but also to professionals. Komara’s teaching approach and practices allowed the students to open up and express definite opinions about their readings, ideas, and projects. Komara, in turn, learned a great deal about the Finnish educational system. She came to value its process of the thesis track, the attitudes about professional internships, and the strong sense of landscape design and history. She left with colleagues and students with full sets of her lecture images, her pedagogical approach for “active classrooms”, evaluative strategies such as rubrics, and invitations to come to Denver.
Komara’s personal highlights revolve around family and her observations of the plants and forms of the landscape through the changing seasons. Her two younger sons spent the entire Fulbright with her, enrolled in a Finnish school with lessons taught in English where they became friends with international and Finnish classmates.
“The Fulbright experience expanded our world and changed the way we view ourselves, and our lives. None of us really wanted to come home; we plan to return as soon as we can.”
- Ann Komara, MLA, March History, College of Architecture & Planning