Susan Dieterlen
Syracuse Center of Excellence

Susan Dieterlen holds joint appointments as a Research Assistant Professor in the School of Architecture at Syracuse University, and as a Faculty Research Fellow at the Syracuse Center of Excellence. Her research investigates human behavior and environments, with a focus on urban neighborhoods during economic transformations. She is the author of several publications, including those within Environment and Behavior and the Journal of Urbanism, as well as a book-length scholarly monograph. She also blogs at City Wild on

Her work identifies opportunities during economic change to create more equitable, sustainable, and prosperous places for people. Such transformations can provide increased equality and understanding across demographic divisions, as communities pull together toward common goals. The publication of her book, Immigrant Pastoral: Midwestern Landscapes and Mexican-American Neighborhoods (Routledge, 2015) caps a decade of work focusing on immigration’s transformation of small postindustrial cities and rural meatpacking towns.

A related line of work explores social and behavioral impacts of increasing urban nature and neglect. This includes studies of crime and social capital in areas of tree canopy and understory vegetation, especially unmaintained spontaneous vegetation. This work incorporates an approach of trade-offs between costs and benefits, including the increasing need to mitigate climate change impacts in cash-strapped municipalities. Dr. Dieterlen is currently conducting studies in this area and lecturing on it nationally.

Additional work includes projects with the Syracuse Center of Excellence involving the transformation to a post-carbon age through the incorporation of clean and distributed energy generation and use. Current studies include the use of community microgrids to promote economic revitalization of disadvantaged neighborhoods in postindustrial cities. Her work also engages the dismantling/vacating of fossil-fuel infrastructure and its profound impacts on the physical environment and public acceptance.

Prior to joining Syracuse University, Dr. Dieterlen taught as a faculty member in the SUNY-ESF Landscape Architecture program. She has taught a wide range of design studios as well as courses on environment and behavior research, applied research methods, and postindustrial cities. Her teaching emphasizes critical thinking and connecting interdisciplinary research to built design work, and involves a unique combination of scholarly rigor and real-world business expertise.

In addition to an undergraduate professional degree in landscape architecture from Purdue University, Dr. Dieterlen holds a Master of Landscape Architecture and a doctorate in Landscape Architecture from the University of Michigan. She is also a registered landscape architect with several years of full-time professional practice experience, including the founding of Prologue, a small design practice.


Spring 2016