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College of Environment and Design

Ashley Steffens



Phone: 706-542-0063
Street address: 111 Jackson Street Bulding
Head shot of Ashley Steffens




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Biographical Information

Professor Ashley Steffens, Crowley Professor in Urban Planning and Design, has more than 18 years of academic experience, demonstrating exemplary dedication to landscape architecture in her teaching, research and service. In summer of 2020, she was named Associate Dean of Academic Affair of College of Environment and Design. For 7 years, she held multiple leadership elected offices and service positions with the CELA: as a managing editor for Landscape Journal, as CELA Secretary and Vice President of Communications, and as President Elect, President, and immediate Past President (2018-2021).

At University of Georgia, Professor Steffens taught and directed a variety of courses including Hand and Computer Graphics, Plant Identification, Community Design studio and Applied Engineering. She taught thousands of students in small-size as well as large-format classes. She led numerous study abroad programs, senior graduating studios, and independent studies. She chaired and directed graduate students thesis committees, and has been successful in supporting her pedagogical and academic activities with grant funding at the University of Georgia.

Professor Steffens intertwines her research and teaching activities. Her scholarship focuses on graphic communication including tracking professional graphic trends, design education and pedagogy, and curricular constraints due to technological developments. She has over 10 peer-reviewed published journal articles and conference proceedings, 25 professional articles and publications, 30 professional reports and bulletins, 15 creative professional contributions and consulting contracts, and over 12 exhibits, posters and invited presentations. Professor Steffens' outstanding contributions to teaching, research and service have been recognized with more than 12 awards, accolades and recognition including University of Georgia CED Alumni Association Distinguished Faculty Award in 2018, and Outstanding Junior Teaching Faculty Award in 2010.


Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science, University of North Carolina, Asheville, NC
Master of Landscape Architecture, University of Georgia, Athens, GA


Professor Steffens is a dedicated educator who taught various courses including design studios, graduate research, manual and digital graphics communication, planting design and identification. She taught over 1,000 undergraduate and masters students in more than 15 different courses including study abroad programs to Cortona, Italy and Costa Rica, directed studies focusing on plethora of contemporary issues in landscape architecture, and served as chair and committee member for over 40 graduate thesis.

Professor Steffens’ innovative course development is grounded by her research on pedagogy striving to deliver education based on personal engagement, experience, and shared cultural values. Her research on graphic communication allows her to blend traditional graphic concepts with computer graphics and web platforms, and to incorporate new technologies such as tablet sketching to studio settings.

At the University of Georgia, Professor Steffens has been successful in securing grant funding to support her classroom and studio instruction including UGA service learning, Learning Technology, and Sustainability across Curriculum Faculty development grants. Professor Steffens outstanding performance as an educator was recognized and celebrated at University of Georgia. Among many accolades and recognitions, she was the recipient of the Dean’s Award for Teaching Innovation, Outstanding Junior Teaching Faculty Award, CED Alumni Association Distinguished Faculty Award, Cortona Study Abroad Faculty award, and UGA Career Center Career Development recognition.

Her student admirably wrote: 

“I love how you set up your class…..Your class demonstrations are so helpful and give me so much material to look back on moving forward in this major.”

Scholarship/creative activity

Professor Steffens is a prolific scholar and creative editor. She brilliantly blends her scholarship, creative activities with classroom instruction. Her research stems from deep understanding that excellence in design is contingent on communications skills. Her pedagogical approach in design studios informs her research and became the foundation of her published book titled Computer Graphics for Landscape Architects, an Introduction. Recently in 2018, her book chapter in Nadia Amoroso’s book In Representing Landscapes: Analogue, builds on her passion about design and graphics, and is titled “The Hand Graphics Experience.”

Professor Steffens has over 10 peer-reviewed published journal articles and conference proceedings, 25 professional articles and publications, 30 reports and bulletins, 15 creative contributions and consulting contracts, and over 12 exhibits, posters and invited presentations.

Professor Steffens has been successful in securing internal grants and external contracts to support her research. She has been involved in over $90,000 grant funding projects as a principal and co-principal investigator. Most recently, she secured a 1 million dollar contract for the revitalization of Mary Moss Waterfront Park in Brunswick, Georgia.

Additionally, Professor Steffens creative scholarship focuses on editorship of research and professional publications. As a Managing Editor of Landscape Journal, she worked closely with Dan Nadenciek and David Pitt overseeing the publication of seven journal issues. As Co-Editor of Landscape Research Record she directed the publication of three peer-reviewed issues. In addition, as Associate Editor of Technology for Landscape Architect and Specifier News, she directed the publication of over 40 articles and professional papers.


Professor Steffens’ service record is truly outstanding reflecting a sincere passion for landscape architecture and her role as an educator. Her service engagements reflect dedication to her students, institution, as well as to the profession of landscape architecture. She has been actively involved with UGA student body serving as Faculty Advisor to the student chapter of ASLA and providing leadership in organizing and hosting a successful LABash conference. She has served as an external examiner of numerous tenure and promotion cases. She has led and participated in several Rosters of Visiting Evaluators (ROVE) member for the Landscape Architecture Accreditation Board (LAAB) providing evaluation and insights into accreditation processes to numerous programs across the nation.

Professor Steffens has provided extensive service as a reviewer for national conferences as well as professional journals including: CELA, EDRA, Design Communication Association conference, the International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, and Pearson Publications.  In addition to her outstanding creative work and service to landscape architecture scholarship (please see section on Research) and her excellent leadership with CELA (please see section on Engagement and Contributions to the CELA mission), Professor Steffens has taught different sections of the  Landscape Architecture Registration Exam (LARE), served as award juror for professional design competitions including EDSA Fellowship Awards, served for over 10 years as a reviewer for CELA conference abstract, paper, poster presentations, co-chairing the design education and pedagogy track (2 terms), and editor of full paper submissions for publication in Landscape Research Record.

engagement and contribution to the cela mission

Professor Steffens has one of the most impressive records of service to the CELA that I have seen in my 30 years of academic career. Throughout her professional career, she has not only contributed to the CELA through submitted papers and poster presentations, but also served as track co-chair for design education and pedagogy, abstract reviewer, and editor of paper submissions for publication in Landscape Research Record. With Dan Nadenicek, she served as a managing editor of Landscape Journal between 2014 and 2017 overseeing the publication of 7 journal issues.

In 2016, Professor Steffens was elected to the CELA Executive Committee as VP of Communication, Outreach and Publications, and in 2018 was elected to serve a three-year term as President. During her presidency, Professor Steffens was instrumental in leading efforts to determine the scale and scope needed for CELA’s new Executive Director and participated in the successful national search resulting in the hire of IMI Association Executives. She led the efforts of revising CELA’s By-laws after regaining lost tax status, as well as charging a task force with exploring future format of Landscape Journal. Steffens played an important role in two significant CELA strategic planning forums that yielded CELA’s new strategic map, vision and mission statements. She facilitated CELA’s effort to use new software as well as YouTube channel as modes of communication with the membership and community. Additionally, Steffens provided great leadership to CELA when Covid-19 outbreak resulted in the unprecedented need for alternatives to the in-person annual conference.


Hand Graphics, Computer Graphics, Technology, Portfolio and Professional Development, and Educational/Public Gardens and Parks

Selected Publications

Calabria, Ashley and Jose Buitrago. Computer Graphics for Landscape Architects: An Introduction. Delmar-Cengage Learning, Clifton Park, N.Y., USA, 2008

“Tech Trends”, Landscape Architect and Specifier News, 01 ed., vol. 28, pp. 26, 28, 2012

“Generation Speed: Part 1: Graphics” on
The 2014 4th most viewed article January – October 2014. Publication received 1,384,205 visits.

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