Samuel Dennis Jr.

Position title: Professor— Environmental design and landscape history


Phone: Office: (608) 890.3102 | Lab: (608) 263.7699

1d Agricultural Hall

Headshot of Sam Dennis Jr. outside in the sun

MLA Landscape Architecture, MS Geography, PhD Geography

Campus Affiliations
Family Medicine and Community Health, Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, Global Health Institute, Geography


Dr. Dennis is an associate professor and director of the Environmental Design Laboratory. As a geographer and landscape architect, his research focuses on understanding and creating environments that support human health and well-being, especially for young people. He is particularly interested in the role urban open spaces play in preventing chronic disease. Although he continues to pursue his early interest in the social construction of landscape meaning, his current research engages communities in assessing and improving their neighborhoods through participatory research, planning and design. He currently serves as Program Chair for the Bachelor of Landscape Architecture (BLA) degree.

Research Interests:

-landscape, health and well-being

-social dimensions of environmental design at all scales

-children, youth and families and the built environment

-community design, planning and development

-nature-based play and education


Dennis, Jr., Samuel F. (2012) The Driftless Area in Wisconsin, in Anna Andrzejewski (ed) Guide to Wisconsin’s Vernacular Landscapes. Vernacular Architecture Forum.

Buckingham, William R, and Samuel F Dennis Jr. (2009) Cartographies of Participation: How the Changing Natures of Cartography Has Opened Community and Cartographer Collaboration. Cartographic Perspectives, 64, Fall, pp. 55 – 61.

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

Dennis, Jr., Samuel F. 2004. “Claiming Open Space: Youth Identity and the Challenge of Meaningful Participation.” In Proceedings (2004) of Open Space: People Space — An International Conference on Inclusive Outdoor Environments. Edinburgh , UK : Open Space Research Center.

Dennis, Jr., Samuel F. 2004. “Visual Seduction: The Ambiguity of Visual Images in Public Participation GIS.” In Proceedings (2004) of the URISA 2004 Public Participation GIS (PPGIS) Conference. Edited by Steve Ventura and Laxmi Ramasubranian, Madison , WI : Urban Regional Information Systems Association, pp. 511-518.

Dennis, Jr., Samuel F. 2003. “The Landscape Literacy Trap: Guidelines for Interpreting Landscape in a Post-Modern World.” In Proceedings of the 2002 Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture. Edited by M. Elen Deming, Syracuse , NY : Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture, pp. 25-31.

Dennis, Jr., Samuel F. (2003) Creating “Curriculum of Consequence”: The Harrisburg Collaborative Studio. In Lakshman Yapa and Jeremy Cohen (eds) A Blueprint for Public Scholarship. University Park, PA: The Pennsylvania State University, Office of Undergraduate Education, pp. 37-40.