ISU professor establishes professional network for environmental justice

Iowa State University landscape architecture students work on an andoor classroom project at the Iowa Correctional Institution for Women in Mitchellville. (Bob Elbert/Iowa State University News Service)

Nick Fetty | June 24, 2015

A landscape architecture professor at Iowa State University has established a professional network that she hopes will provide the public with more access to outdoor spaces.

Julie Stevens, an assistant professor in ISU’s College of Design, co-chairs the American Society of Landscape Architects’ (ASLA) Environmental Justice Professional Practice Network (PPN). The concept for establishing such a network came up during the ASLA’s annual meeting last fall.

“For me, environmental justice just means everybody has access to healthy outdoor spaces,” Stevens said in an interview with the Ames Tribune. “And the spaces where we live and work and play, no matter who you are or what your socioeconomic status is or where you live, everybody has a healthy place.”

In 2013, Stevens and a group of landscape architecture students began work on an outdoor classroom project at the Iowa Correctional Institution for Women in Mitchellville, utilizing feedback from inmates on what to include in the design.

“You wouldn’t find another internship that includes working with the demographic of offenders. It’s an experience hardly anyone else will have,” said Lauren Iversen, a senior who worked on the project last summer.

Stevens said she hopes the PPN will expand to include outreach programs at area schools. For more information about the Environmental Justice PPN, check out the group’s LinkedIn page.

A bird’s eye view of the plans for an outdoor space at the Iowa Correctional Institution for Women in Mitchellville. (Tim Buescher/Iowa State University News Service)

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