RMIT University is honouring a pioneer in landscape architecture in Australia with an honorary doctorate at a ceremony at RMIT’s Storey Hall.
Emeritus Professor James Sinatra will become a Doctor of Design Honoris Causa, in recognition of his role in establishing landscape architecture education in Australia during a long academic career at RMIT.
Professor Sinatra came to Australia in the early 1980s from Iowa State University in the United States, with the aim of setting up an internationally-recognised degree program in landscape architecture. This was achieved with the help of an active program of international student exchanges.
Professor Sinatra initially led the Bachelor of Landscape Architecture program (now the Bachelor of Design - Landscape Architecture), and then stayed involved with the program for 15 years, before retiring and becoming an Emeritus Professor.
He has co-authored two seminal texts on landscape architecture for remote indigenous communities in Australia: Listen to the People, Listen to the Land, and Landscape for Health. These publications, co-written with Phin Murphy, celebrated his commitment to working with indigenous communities to understand and help shape their landscape environments in healthier ways.
Professor Sinatra also initiated design studios throughout rural and remote Australia as part of RMIT’s Landscape Architecture program, and these developed to become the RMIT OutReach Australia program.
He has been honoured with a fellowship with the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects in addition to a National Future Leaders Scholarship in his name, widely described as the ‘Jim Sinatra Leadership Award’.
Acknowledging Professor Sinatra’s outstanding contribution in the field of landscape architecture, RMIT Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Margaret Gardner AO, said that he has helped create invaluable opportunities for Australian and international students and RMIT staff to participate in projects to bring real and meaningful change to communities in need.