Samuel Dennis Jr.

Position title: Professor Emeritus

Website: Environmental Design Lab

Headshot of Sam Dennis Jr. outside in the sun



Sam Dennis was a professor in the Department of Planning and Landscape Architecture at UW-Madison and was the founding director of the Environmental Design Lab. His research focused on people’s experience of green environments and mental health outcomes. He spoke frequently on environmental design and health and wellbeing.

In his community-based practice, Sam worked collaboratively to create healthy places for everyone. The Environmental Design Lab supports community efforts to address health inequities and health disparities related to the built environment using a variety of participatory methods.

Sam received his MS and PhD in geography from Penn State and his MLA (landscape architecture) from North Carolina State University. He previously practiced landscape architecture in North Carolina (license NC #0822, inactive)

Research interests:

  • landscape, health, and the built environment
  • experience of urban green spaces and mental health outcomes
  • environmental design that supports wellbeing for everyone
  • social dimensions of environmental design
  • children, youth and families and the built environment
  • nature-based play and education. 

Selected publications

Shin, Jung-hye., Dennis, Jr, Samuel., Mohammed, Hassnaa. (2021) Mental Health Outcome Measures in Environmental Design Research: A Critical Review. Health Environments Research and Design.

Teqja, Zydi & Samuel Dennis Jr. (2016) A landscape architecture program for Albania. Education Alternatives, 14: 530-542.

Dennis, Jr., Samuel F., Alexandra Wells & Candice Bishop. (2014) A Post-Occupancy Study of Nature-Based Outdoor Classrooms in Early Childhood Education. Children, Youth and Environments 24(2): 35-52.

Dennis, Jr., Samuel F., et. al. 2008. “Participatory photo mapping (PPM): Exploring an integrated method for health and place research with young people.” Health and Place. pp. 466-473.

Dennis, Jr., Samuel F. (2006) Prospects for Qualitative GIS at the Intersection of Youth Development and Participatory Urban Planning. Environment and Planning A, v. 38 (11), pp. 2039-2054.


  • Land Arc 260 History of landscape Architecture
  • Land Arc 261 Introduction to Landscape Architectural Design and Graphic Communication Studio
  • Land Arc 321 Environment and Behavior Studio
  • Land Arc 561 Open Space Planning and Design Studio
  • Land Arc 677 Cultural Landscape Preservation and Landscape History
  • Land Arc 525 Social Justice and the Urban Landscape (developed as new course)
  • Land Arc 710 Theories of Landscape Change (grad course)
  • Land Arc 720 Critical Theory in Landscape Architecture (grad course)

International Field Courses:

  • Northern Cheyenne Nation (7 yrs)
  • Honduras (5 yrs)
  • Costa Rica (2 yrs)
  • Nicaragua (2 yrs)