Assoc Prof Debra Cushing

Publications by year

Find Debra Cushing on


Program Leader - Resilient Communities

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Design and Planning (University of Colorado), Master of Science (MS) in Landscape Architecture (University of Wisconsin, Madison)

Dr. 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.



Additional information

Debra has served on the following committees:

  • 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