Department of Landscape Architecture
Architecture Building

Flood, Thompson named DCP International Educator of the Year

November 22, 2010
Ian Flood, associate professor of building construction, and Kevin Thompson, assistant professor of landscape architecture, both were recently named DCP International Educator of the Year for 2010, an honor that recognizes outstanding international endeavors by faculty and staff.

Both Flood and Thompson have gone above and beyond the normal call of duty in their efforts to bring a global perspective onto campus by successfully integrating teaching, research and service learning initiatives.

“So many of our faculty are deserving of this award.”

Flood, who received the award for Senior Faculty, initiated and helped establish a student exchange program between the National University of Singapore and the M.E. Rinker, Sr. School of Building Construction. The program started this semester and currently has four students from Singapore studying at UF and one student from UF scheduled to study in Singapore in the spring. Flood has taught and developed eight courses within the Rinker School over the last five years, many of which contained international components; the most relevant is a graduate course in International Business Management. Additionally, Flood has taken on senior officer and organizational positions with the American Society of Civil Engineers and has worked closely with the European Group for Intelligent Computing in Engineering, and the Computational Mechanics Group from Strathelyde University, Scotland.

Flood said he is deeply honored to have been selected for this award and believes strongly in what it promotes.

“International education is a critical component of our programs and activities, enriching the educational experience of our students, nurturing diversity in their thinking and helping build bridges between different cultures,” Flood said. “The University of Florida and, in particular, our college have been very proactive in furthering this cause. So many of our faculty are deserving of this award through their dedication to internationalizing our curricula – this is what makes receipt of the award such an honor.”

The many reasons for international education

Thompson, who received the award for Junior Faculty, serves as co-director of the Center for International Design and Planning in the School of Landscape Architecture and Planning and has also been responsible for new international learning initiatives including Landscape Field Schools (LFS), an international program that operates on a study abroad model that he developed. Called the ISLE (International Service Learning Exchange), LFS focuses on collaborative planning and design-exchange experiences between U.S. students and host-country program participants. The program has excelled in providing unique and important service at no cost to communities in need, honing innovative teaching approaches, valuable service learning opportunities to students and facilities for faculty to conduct original research and disseminate it to a national and international audience. The programs have been situated in Southeast Asia with an emphasis on Indonesia (Java and Bali specifically) but have also included experiences in Singapore, Hong Kong, Viet Nam and Japan.

According to Thompson, the personal growth and enrichment that students receive from studying internationally are invaluable.

“We get too comfortable within our own familiar contexts,” Thompson said. “International educational provides opportunities for students to challenge the preconceptions that come from cultural conditioning and professional training. It compels us to reevaluate our assumptions, our beliefs and value systems.”

However, Thompson also believes that the benefits of study abroad reach far beyond the individual.

“Organized international education programs also help prepare our students for an increasingly-mobile international workforce,” Thompson said. “Students are coming back from summer internships having worked in firms with projects in every corner of the globe. Cultural sensitivity and place-appropriate design and planning will increasingly be demanded of tomorrow’s professional workforce. We have a responsibility to prepare our students to meet these demands.”