A Qualitative Study of Practitioner Perspectives on Landscape Architecture and Equity

Kristine F. Miller, Rachel McNamara, Amanda Smoot

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper describes an interpretive, exploratory qualitative study that sought to understand practitioner perspectives on challenges to and opportunities for advancing equity through landscape architecture. We defined equity broadly as “fair and just access to opportunities and resources.” A purposeful nonrandom sample of public practice designers as well as designers in private and nonprofit practice who worked on public projects was followed by a snowball sample.We conducted 25 interviews in total. As we planned for our member check in May 2020, George Floyd, an unarmed black man, was murdered by Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin, prompting racial justice and police reform protests in the Twin Cities and around the world. We used the member check survey as an opportunity to review themes identified in the interviews and to ask how participants thought their interview responses might have shifted as a result of experiencing these events. Participants identified the lack of diversity in landscape architectural education and practice as a barrier. They observed that one’s professional power (e.g., status as a firm leader vs. junior staff member) was significant to one’s ability to advocate for equity through practice. Public engagement and community planning processes were seen as opportunities for landscape architects to address the unequal distribution of positive and negative impacts of environmental design. Respondents suggested that there was a need to educate design decision-makers about what equity is and how equity-driven design projects might be implemented. Respondents noted the role that community organizations played in educating designers about equity issues. Our next steps are to create a survey based on our findings, to use that survey to hear from a broader range of practitioners in the State of Minnesota, and to share this research with ASLA-MN members who are organizing equity-advocacy networks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)93-107
Number of pages15
JournalLandscape Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, University of Wisconsin Press. All rights reserved.


  • Equity
  • justice
  • practice


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