Stephen Mainzer

  • Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture
  • Decision dynamics

  • Coupled human and natural systems

  • Human dimensions of natural resources

  • Political sentiment

  • Environmental sentiment

229 Stuckeman Family Building

Stephen Mainzer


The widening fractures across our national political landscape have polarized opinions about our systemic environmental problems. In response, Stephen Mainzer's work aims to advocate for societal benefits while producing evidence that contributes to the infrastructure of research.

As a designer, educator, and researcher, Mainzer engages a socio-ecological systems approach to exploring how political and environmental sentiment drives the decision dynamics of coupled human and natural systems. He aims to identify new theoretical frameworks that describe the complex interactions between a person or community’s values and their social and biophysical environment. By building upon the field theories of landscape, community, and behavior, Mainzer explores the conflicts implicit in: the socio-ecological drivers of voting; the politics, place, and race of the coronavirus pandemic; and the urban-rural dynamics of solar energy suitability. His methods draw upon a background in professional practice and a transdisciplinary doctoral program to apply systems-thinking, geographic information systems, statistics, and qualitative techniques.

Mainzer teaches across the landscape architecture curriculum with a focus on the introductory studio design process, culture, and communication. He encourages nascent designers to learn by doing, developing self-critique, and thinking independently through an equitably scaffolded process that meets students where they are while preparing them for a rigorous nationally-ranked curriculum.