Faculty of Engineering,
School of Architecture & Built Environment
BiographyDr. Cushing’s research combines her interest in healthy and supportive environments for children and youth with her understanding of using design theory and research evidence to create sustainable and vibrant landscapes. She uses environmental psychology theory and placemaking principles to inform the design of cities.
Her current research areas include:
- Intergenerational park design for physical activity and social interaction;
- Playful urban design solutions to encourage physical activity for all ages;
- Artful placemaking - using public art in public space; and
- Using gamification to enhance environmental engagement for children.
Deb is currently an Associate Professor in Landscape Architecture and the Spatial Discipline Leader (Architecture, Landscape Architecture, and Interior Architecture study areas) for the School of Design. She is also a researcher with the QUT Design Lab and the Centre for the Environment. She is the lead investigator on an ARC Linkage Project titled Intergenerational Park Design for Active and Engaged Communities. The trans-disciplinary project will be completed in 2021 and will lead to a better understanding of how parks and open space impact physical activity levels for intergenerational populations.
Prior to arriving at QUT, Deb received a Bachelor’s in Landscape Architecture from Pennsylvania State University and a Master’s of Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Landscape Architecture with a focus on ecological restoration. Deb also worked for several years as a landscape architect practitioner for engineering and planning firms in Colorado, USA. During her time in practice, she served on interdisciplinary teams with planners, engineers, and community administrators to find sustainable solutions to community issues. Deb facilitated participatory planning methods during public workshops and community meetings to gain input regarding community parks, trail systems, and outdoor learning environments. She received a PhD in Design and Planning from the University of Colorado Denver, where she researched youth master plans in the United States. She also served as one of the founding coordinators for Growing Up Boulder, an ongoing child- and youth-friendly city initiative created to facilitate youth participation in community decision-making.
- Associate Professor
Faculty of Engineering,
School of Architecture & Built Environment
Children, Youth and Environments, Community Engagement, Design Pedagogy, Landscape Architecture, Participatory Planning
Architecture, Urban and Regional Planning
Field of Research code, Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification (ANZSRC), 2008
- Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Design and Planning (University of Colorado)
- Master of Science (MS) in Landscape Architecture (University of Wisconsin, Madison)
Professional memberships and associations
- Member of the QUT Design Lab https://research.qut.edu.au/designlab/
- Editorial Board Member of the Children, Youth and Environments Journal
- Member of the Australian Research Alliance for Children & Youth www.aracy.org.au
- National Education Committee of the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects (AILA)
- APRU working group on Children, Youth and Environments
- NYC Creative Cities Study Tour (tour leader)
- People and Place Seminar (unit coordinator)
- Landscape Design studio units at multiple year levels (unit coordinator)
Dr. Cushing believes that students learn best when they are exposed to information through multiple modes and can actively engage in their learning experience. To enable active learning, Deb often incorporates discussion groups, hands-on practice, and opportunities for students to teach others what they are learning into her classes. When feasible, Deb also structures her classes to include a service-learning project. Although service-learning is often a more complex class format, it can also result in a richer and more memorable learning experience for the students. When the service-learning project follows best practices to ensure the “service” is specifically requested by the partnering community organization and it matches the learning objectives of the class, it can create a beneficial experience for everyone. Deb has extensive experience using service-learning in classes she taught in the United States, including:
- Designing with Multicultural Youth: Using Multimedia Techniques for Social Change
- Sustainable Planning and Design
- Participatory Community Planning: Designing Outdoor School Environments with Children and Youth
- Participatory Community Planning: Designing Healthy Communities with Children and Youth
- Participatory Community Planning: Urban Agriculture
- Environment and Behaviour (University of Colorado Boulder)
- Plants and Ecology in Design (University of Wisconsin-Madison)
- Regional Planning (University of Wisconsin-Madison)
- Member of the Creative Industries Faculty Ethics Committee
- Selected member of the Steering Committee for the Institute for Ethical and Civic Engagement at the University of Colorado Boulder, 2009 to 2011
- Selected as an external grant reviewer for Great Outdoors Colorado, 2002 to 2005
- Selected to participate in the ASLA Community Assistance Team Design Project in Cleveland Ohio, USA, 1995
- Derr V, Chawla L, Mintzer M, Cushing D, van Vliet W, (2013) A city for all citizens: integrating children and youth from marginalized populations into city planning, Buildings, 3 (3), pp. 482-505.
- Cushing D, Wexler Love E, (2013) Developing cultural responsiveness in environmental design students through digital storytelling and photovoice, Journal of Learning Design, 6 (3), pp. 63-74.
- Cushing D, Bates I, van Vliet W, (2013) Pedagogy and community engagement in environmental design courses, Journal of Architectural and Planning Research, 30 (2), pp. 167-180.
- Cushing D, Wexler Love E, van Vliet W, (2012) Through the viewfinder: Using multimedia techniques to engage Latino youth in community planning. In M Rios & L Vazquez, Dialogos: Placemaking in Latino Communities, Routledge, pp. 172-185.
- Chawla L, Cushing D, Malinin L, Pevec I, van Vliet W, Zuniga K, (2012) Children and the Environment.
- Wexler Love E, Cushing D, Sullivan M, Brexa J, (2011) Digital storytelling within a service-learning partnership: Technology as product and process for university students and culturally and linguistically diverse high school youth. In M Bowdon & RG Carpenter, Higher Education, Emerging Technologies, and Community Partnerships: Concepts, Models and Practices, IGI Global, pp. 88-105.
- Chawla L, Cushing D, (2007) Education for strategic environmental behavior, Environmental Education Research, 13 (4), pp. 437-452.