About Dr. Dearborn, AIA
Professor Dearborn, a licensed architect and NCARB certificate holder, uses her design insights to study the transactional relationships between people and their environments, particularly the multi-scalar connections among residents, dwelling environments, and cultural change. Her work engages groups traditionally underserved by the environmental design professions, leading her to address the potential of built-environment policy to create equitable outcomes for those who experience health vulnerabilities. Her interests in spatial justice, inclusion, and health equity underpin her approach to teaching, research, and service. She values active learning and student-centered pedagogical approaches.
Her undergraduate and graduate architecture studios focus on the creation of healthy and socially sustainable communities through the application of evidence-based and participatory processes. She teaches graduate courses that explore research and research methods that increase understanding of the links between environmental design and human health. Her Ph.D. advisees in architecture and landscape architecture undertake innovative research studying environmental determinants of physical, mental, and social health and well-being.
She is an active member of the AIA Design and Health Research Consortium and a co-author of the recently released AIA Framework for Design Excellence – Design for Well-being. Her professional collaborations include recent work with the University of Florida’s Shimberg Center for Housing Studies and the design firm Kahler Slater. She has authored numerous book chapters and articles growing from her community-based scholarship exploring social justice and equity among minority peoples, and engaging physical, social, economic, and political aspects of the environment to address human health and well-being. Her design-and-health-focused research has been funded through grants from the U.S.EPA, IL. Dept. of Public Health, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Architectural Research Centers Consortium, and the U of I Center for Advanced Study. Her ongoing studies, Shaping Healthier Housing and Assessing Healthier Housing, examine health equity and inclusion and their links to housing policy and the physical design of neighborhoods and housing.
Dr. Dearborn has served in a variety of administrative and leadership roles since 2010: Associate Director of the School of Architecture, Co-Director of FAA’s East St. Louis Action Research Project, Chair of the Architecture & Landscape Architecture Ph.D. programs, and founding member of Architecture’s Health and Wellbeing program where she has served as chair for much of its history. As chair, she developed a set of courses and studios delivered to students in the School of Architecture from the BSAS first year through the MARCH, MSAS, Ph.D., and certificate programs, exposing students to principles of human-centric design and health-and-built-environment research. In collaboration with core faculty in Health and Wellbeing and the College of Applied Health Sciences, she developed health-focused graduate concentrations in the MARCH (professional degree), the MSAS (research degree), and an online professional graduate certificate, Health and Well-being for Designed Environments.
In her recently completed four-year term in the presidential leadership of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA), she was instrumental as a catalyst for growth and change concerning equity and inclusion in the organization’s programs and policies. In her ACSA roles, she has been closely involved with transformations that resulted in the National Architectural Accrediting Board’s (NAAB) 2020 Conditions and Procedures for architectural education program accreditation in the U.S. and subsequent initiation of ACSA’s degree clarification project.
- Ph.D., Architecture, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (2004)
- Master of Architecture, University of Oregon, Eugene OR (1994)
- Bachelor of Architecture, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy NY (1983)
- Bachelor of Science, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy NY (1983)
Teaching and advising
- ARCH 372: Design for Well-being
- ARCH 522: Advanced Research in Environment, Architecture & Global Health
- ARCH 572: Design: Health and Well-being
- ARCH 596: Special Problems in Health and Wellbeing: Case Studies in Healthy Housing
- Advisor and Examining Committee Member, Ph.D. Program Architecture, Landscape Architecture, and Urban and Regional Planning
- Advisor, Health and Well-being for Designed Environments Graduate Certificate