You are here:Home/Research/ Garden and Landscape Studies/ Scholarly Activities/ Public Landscapes and Public Health: An Inquiry into the Histories of Landscape Design

Public Landscapes and Public Health: An Inquiry into the Histories of Landscape Design

May 10–28, 2021, hosted virtually | Intensive three-week workshop, focusing on issues of public health and democracy, for PhD and MLA candidates.

Syllabus Participants

To develop the field of garden and landscape studies across distinct and related disciplines and to promote the depth and breadth of future landscape scholarship, Dumbarton Oaks, with the support of the Mellon Initiative in Urban Landscape Studies, offers an intensive three-week virtual Garden and Landscape Studies Graduate Workshop, this year focused on issues of public health and democracy.

Workshop Offerings

Bringing together early-career scholars and practitioners, the workshop addresses key issues in garden and landscape history and theory through the lenses of public health and democracy. We will discuss seminal works in landscape and environment as they pertain to questions of public health, while exploring emerging practices and modes of inquiry related to theories of the public realm, race and identity, and environmental and urban history. As we trace the trajectories of landscape design, we might begin to reimagine futures that position the public realm as a site of collective health and wellbeing. Furthermore, a focus on the history of the public realm as a foundation for democracy challenges us to address calls for increased equity, inclusion, and environmental justice. These questions suggest an alternative foundation for teaching landscape history, one that interrogates the role of design in creating landscapes that are beautiful, productive, healthy, and just.

Participants typically include doctoral candidates writing dissertations and current MLA candidates or recent MLA recipients, who have received their degree within the last three years. Participants will be asked to share their own scholarship as well as fully engage in all the planned activities, including seminars and lectures. 

Student Participation

Students are expected to engage fully with the substantial readings assigned for each seminar session, give presentations on their research, and participate in class discussion. Additionally, students are grouped into teams of three to pursue an assigned group project. Participants will meet Mondays through Fridays, 11:30 am to 3:30 pm EST, via zoom, with a 45-minute lunch break. Upon successful completion of the workshop and submission of the final project, participants receive an honorarium of $1,500, minus any relevant taxes and contingent upon the receipt of required payment documentation. 


Prospective candidates are required to submit a letter of interest, a five-hundred-word abstract of their dissertation (MLA holders and recent MLA recipients may submit a statement of relevant research interests), and a current CV. All materials and two letters of recommendation must be submitted to the Embark application portal by March 15, 2021. International candidates are eligible to apply. For further information, please contact

Image: General view from west, Quarantine Station, Officers’ Quarters, Angel Island State Park, Angel Island, Marin County, CA


  • Ebenezer Olamiposi Adeyemi, University of Iowa
  • Diana Boric, Rutgers University
  • Elza D’Cruz, Srishti Manipal Institute of Art, Design and Technology
  • Evan Elderbrock, University of Oregon
  • Negar Imani, Shiraz University
  • Dirco Kok, Wageningen University
  • Gwendolyn Lockman, University of Texas at Austin
  • Gabriela Tie Nagoya Tamari, University of São Paulo
  • Y. L. Lucy Wang, Columbia University
  • Jon Winder, University of Kent