Professor of landscape architecture shares her passion for combining an interest in people and nature to help students succeed in their paths.  PHOTO CREDIT: uri.edu

Jane Buxton, a professor of landscape architecture and planning, has been at the University of Rhode Island for three years and takes a very personalized approach with her students by using techniques to bring real life events into the classroom. 

Buxton received her Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of Hawaii, followed by a master’s in landscape architecture from the University of Michigan in 1995 and a doctorate in regional planning from the University of Massachusetts in 2018.

“I was one of those kids that was always outside and loved being in nature,” Buxton said. “I decided to study landscape architecture and, to me, it was a nice way of combining my interests in people and nature while trying to make the world a better place.”

Buxton has had a variety of world experiences. She has done various kinds of teaching from preschool to graduate school, worked as an open space and park planner in the San Francisco Bay area and worked at a few landscape design companies in Michigan and California.

“When I first began my journey, no one was talking about climate change,” Buxton said. “But over time, that’s become more of a focus of work for landscape architects.”  

Buxton’s research focuses a lot on geography, urban design and climate change adaptation. She also enjoys exploring and implementing “therapeutic landscapes.” She was one of the designers for a hospital garden in Spokane, Washington. 

“Part of this research focuses on hospitals where patients are put into these very cold, sterile settings,” Buxton said. “If these people were allowed to look outside and see trees or even go into a small courtyard, it really helped them. This was really something that spoke to me. While I love garden design, this was, to me, a more profound and important way for me to work in this field.” 

She connects and relays this all back to her classes by letting her students use their skill-based sketching, drafting and computer tools to create real-world projects in the landscape architecture studio on the second floor of Rodman Hall. Their latest project was to design a campus park in the green space between Rodman and Woodward Hall. 

Buxton believes that we, as ordinary people, can help climate change. 

“No matter what major you’re in, there’s something you can do to help,” Buxton said. “We all have a stake in designing and living in more sustainable, healthy communities.” 

Richard Sheridan, professor of landscape architecture and the department chair, has worked closely with Buxton since her arrival at the University of Rhode Island. 

“Dr. Buxton is amazing,” Sheridan said. “She brings out the best in students with her unique ability to stay positive and help students. She understands her students, what their strong points are and how to improve on their weak points.” 

Buxton and Sheridan are currently working on adding a master’s program in landscape architecture at URI.

If you are looking for ways to help save our planet in your everyday life, Buxton and Sheridan recommend recycling, fixing items rather than throwing them away, driving less, planting more trees and using alternative energy sources.