Department of Landscape Architecture Research

As active scholars and practitioners, our faculty contribute to cutting-edge developments in their fields at home and abroad, and share those experiences with their students. Many students choose to work with individual faculty on current research projects, learning from and contributing to these efforts.

The department’s research strengths can be grouped into three distinct topics:

  • Critical History, Theory, and Practice
  • Ecology, Infrastructure, and Social Justice
  • Productive Landscapes

Critical History, Theory, and Practice

The critical history, theory, and practice group focuses on humanist, design, and art-based approaches to landscape architecture. As a uniquely dynamic form of cultural expression, landscape architecture is best appreciated amidst multiple temporal, cultural, and spatial contexts that inform theory and practice. History, theory, and practice are conceptualized as mutually reinforcing research realms that clarify prior traditions and inform future visions of landscape architecture. As such, our research and teaching are both reflective and projective, analytical and synthetic, situated and propositional. The department’s strength in this realm is represented in the research and professional practices of faculty whose work spans North American, South American, Asian, and European contexts from the 18th century to the present. The group’s research practices overlap with like-minded faculty members in the Historic Preservation Program and the Departments of Architecture, Art, and the History of Art and Architecture, as well as faculty members throughout the University of Oregon.

Ecology, Infrastructure, and Social Justice

This cluster focuses on the interdisciplinary application of research methodologies from environmental science, ecology, planning, engineering, and public health and policy to address complex issues around food, energy, water, and biodiversity. This cluster is primarily focused on evidence-based design solutions in urban and rural settings in the United States and internationally, with a special emphasis on vulnerable populations in low-income settings in which poverty, climate change, and social injustices are likely to have a magnified impact. Research within this cluster is highly collaborative: students partner with representatives from governments and nonprofit organizations, professionals, and other educators to research real-world problems. Department faculty members offer the potential to link research in this realm to regional and international partners in Asia, South America, and Africa. The professors in this cluster are also working through the Environmental Studies PhD program with landscape architecture as the focal department.

Productive Landscapes

This group studies the productive landscape, which includes farms, forests, and power and waste infrastructures, as a central inquiry within the discipline of landscape architecture. Historically, landscape architects synthesized environmental conservation, productive landscapes, and aesthetic theory in their work. In the latter half of the 20th century, design of the productive landscape largely shifted to other professions and industries, separating working landscapes from ecological or aesthetic landscapes; the productive landscapes group seeks to explore and bridge this rift. We use the agricultural Willamette Valley and the extractive landscapes of the Pacific Northwest as our laboratory, leveraging the department’s Urban Farm in Eugene and Fuller Center for Productive Landscapes in Pennsylvania as intellectual homes for experimentation and collaboration. Faculty members within the department working in this realm offer the potential to connect research to campus and regional partners such as the University of Oregon’s Food Studies Program or the US Forest Service’s H. J. Andrews Experimental Research Forest.

Commitment to Research

A commitment to research is central to all levels of our teaching, whether we’re introducing students to the field or advising graduate students on their theses and dissertations. You can view recent master’s projects and a list of all completed projects as well as completed Landscape Architecture MLA Theses and PhD dissertations.

Research Hubs and Institutes

As a manifestation of our research clusters, landscape architecture faculty collaborate within the department and across the university through the following research hubs and institutes:

APRU Sustainable Cities and Landscape Research Hub

Through a multi-university partnership, the SCL Hub brings together researchers and practitioners to examine Pacific Rim cities in the context of their many landscape interdependencies. The goal of the hub is to advance the sustainability of human societies through analysis and critique that lead to actionable plans for mutually supportive relationships between cities and their surrounding landscapes.

Fuller Center for Productive Landscapes

This center is focused on understanding the role landscape plays in sustaining culture—both literally, through agriculture, and more broadly, through inspiring the arts and grounding cultural identities.

Institute for a Sustainable Environment

ISE is a center for innovative, interdisciplinary research at the nexus of ecological, economic, and social sustainability. As the university’s oldest sustainability institute, the ISE is a thriving center for collaborative research, technical assistance, and policy education.