Chingwen Chen

Climate justice design advocate named director of Stuckeman School

Dr. Chingwen Cheng, program head and associate professor of landscape architecture, urban design and environmental design at The Design School, Arizona State University, has been named director of the Stuckeman School in the Penn State College of Arts and Architecture, effective July 1, 2023. The recipient of grants from the National Science Foundation, Wells Fargo Foundation and others, Cheng is a climate justice design educator and advocate for climate actions through co-designing nature-based solutions with communities.

B. Stephen Carpenter II, Michael J. and Aimee Rusinko Kakos Dean in the College of Arts and Architecture, said Cheng’s combination of professional and academic experience uniquely qualifies her to lead the Stuckeman School. “I am thrilled to welcome a researcher of Dr. Cheng’s caliber whose career has straddled industry and academia to Penn State,” he added.

Over the past 10 years, Cheng has received more than half a million dollars in funding for her research. She was twice named Landscape Architecture Foundation Case Study Investigator to document landscape performances in sustainability outcomes. Cheng founded and directed the Hydro-GI Lab, focusing on the evaluation of both design process and outcomes of nature-based solutions for climate justice design. Her studies include evaluation of social-ecological landscape performance and investigation of sustainable and resilient urban water systems design through hydrological modeling and field experiments, as well as surveys and participatory engagement. In addition, Cheng integrated theories in social vulnerability and environmental justice to create the “Climate Justicescape” assessment framework, which identifies priorities for green infrastructure investment in communities.

“Climate change impacts and systemic injustice are persistent challenges that many communities around the world are facing,” said Cheng, currently president of the Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture (CELA).

Design practices and scholarship must address these challenges as we hold the power to shape the built environment.”
– Chingwen Cheng

“After nearly three decades of schooling, practice, education and scholarship in the design field, I am uniquely positioned to bridge theory and practice, and dedicated to strengthening networks of alliances in climate action through co-design with communities and cultivating stewardship to address inequity and to sustain just and resilient communities.”

Cheng has collaborated across disciplines to assess the state of knowledge in green infrastructure and stormwater control measures, and to determine the sustainability outcomes and ecosystem services provided by landscapes and outdoor environments toward urban resilience. Over the last decade, she has published 19 peer-reviewed journal articles and nine book chapters, including pieces in high-impact journals such as Landscape and Urban Planning, Environmental Management, Urban Climate, Sustainability, Ecosphere, Frontiers in Water and others.

Cheng has engaged with several research hubs and networks worldwide, including chairing the Nature-Based Solutions for Urban Resilience in the Anthropocene (NATURA) Design for Justice thematic working group and Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU) Sustainable Cities and Landscapes (SCL) Vulnerable, Resilient and Climate Justice Communities working group, with ongoing projects on design justice theoretical frameworks. In addition, she is on the steering committee for the APRU SCL research hub. Through APRU’s partnership with several international organizations in the United Nations, Cheng chaired an urban resilience learning module in the Asia Pacific Mayors Academy targeting new mayors from less developed countries.

Cheng is a Registered Professional Landscape Architect and LEED Accredited Professional with extensive experience integrating transdisciplinary co-design processes in watershed planning, stormwater management, low-impact development and community design in the United States. She received the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) Illinois Chapter Honor Award, and her students have received awards from the Arizona and Hawai’i chapters. One of her studio projects received the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) RainWorks Challenge second prize. The Arizona ASLA chapter named her Educator of the Year. Cheng has been active in climate action-focused groups in ASLA at the national level, including serving on the ASLA Climate Action Plan Advisory Group and Climate Action Committee, and co-chairing the Environmental Justice Professional Practice Network (ASLA EJ PPN).

Cheng holds a Ph.D. in regional planning, Master of Landscape Architecture, and Bachelor of Science in horticulture and landscape architecture.