Science - November 18, 2004

Jusuck Koh wants top students

Professor Jusuck Koh suggested that Wageningen should become the number one university in Europe for landscape architecture during his inaugural speech last week. By placing more emphasis on design and building up an international network of alumni, the new professor of Landscape Architecture intends to attract top students.

Koh’s speech, which he gave for his inauguration on 11 November, was by Wageningen standards unusually intellectual and considered how the times are changing. ‘The times that people were satisfied with practical clothes are over. They want fashionable clothes that are stylish and colourful.’ In the same way, according to Koh, the very practically oriented Wageningen tradition in landscape architecture should now make way for a more design-oriented school that is aware of changing aesthetic sensibilities.

Koh wants to use the coming five years to put Wageningen on the world map. ‘We can’t just accept all students, we need to make sure we are in a position to be able to select top students, not only from China and other Asian countries, but also from North America.’

The Wageningen school for landscape architecture needs to be extended by building up its own international network as well as a new worldwide network of Wageningen alumni. ‘I consider myself fortunate with the education I received in the US,’ explained Koh. ‘If I ever have enough money, I see myself giving donations. The culture is different in the Netherlands, however.’ He believes, though, that there are opportunities to include alumni in the teaching programme, for example by using them as mentors.

Koh indicated that within the Netherlands Wageningen offers the most comprehensive programme, with the professional education at Larenstein and the more academic side at Wageningen University. He thinks Wageningen has good prospects as an international design school, especially as Dutch design is very popular at the moment. Competitors within Europe are to be found in England, Munich and Zurich. Koh would like to discuss with the board of Wageningen University whether there is likely to be more flexibility so that he can bring his plans to fruition. / MW

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