Focus on Faculty

Jon Calabria

Landscape architecture associate professor Jon Calabria stands in a stream at the Oconee Forest on campus. (Photo by Andrew Davis Tucker/UGA)

Jon Calabria, an associate professor in the College of Environment and Design, uses service-learning to benefit communities and prepare students for successful careers. 

When did you come to UGA and what brought you here?
Returning to UGA about 10 years ago, after working in private and public practice since the early ’90s, was an easy decision that offered me the opportunity to share my experiences to inform research, teaching and service. Boundless opportunities across the state, nation and world exist, despite only having so much time in the day!

What are your favorite courses and why?
Conveying information through experiential and service-learning reinforces information in exceptional ways that helps students retain and recall it in their post-graduation, professional life. Courses that spend time in the field solidify the course objectives, build camaraderie and allow all of us to pursue design solutions to address pressing issues. Recently, the “Nature and Sustainability Studio” course that I teach worked projects throughout the state, and the “Ecological Restoration” course will continue work from the mountains to the sea, such as mountain bog restoration and designing for improved coastal resilience.

How do you describe the scope and impact of your research or scholarship to people outside of your field?
Landscape architecture is a broad discipline that many may not initially grasp. Folks may have a question about their plants or residential design, but landscape architects are suited to answer additional questions that address sustainability and resilience. Design as research is best articulated through design solutions that seek to minimize tradeoffs among social, environmental and economic components in appealing ways. My hope is that my research helps answer questions about ameliorating impacts on water quality across the gradient of land uses. Whether land is rural or urban, many solutions that are aesthetically appealing can improve how we steward the environment that maintains us.

Associate professor Jon Calabria in the Oconee Forest on campus. (Photo by Andrew Davis Tucker/UGA)

How does your research or scholarship inspire your teaching, and vice versa?
Students will let you know that they see a tight linkage between my research and teaching because they can get directly involved with research projects that reach beyond the College of Environment and Design and seek assistance from other disciplines so that we can draw implementable designs to help us realize resilient landscapes. My interest in restoration is fueled by the many opportunities to improve our environment.

What do you hope students gain from their classroom experience with you?
The most successful students are able to absorb differing points of view and articulate them in meaningful designs that distill the issues and creatively solve them in a dynamic way.

The one UGA experience I will always remember will be …
The freshest experience included traveling to the Amazon to work on a phased plan for a research facility, but there are so many other rich experiences offered at UGA! I most enjoy working with other disciplines to inform student designs and underpin their understanding of the environment. Of course, that means we need to get out in the field to see the mountains, piedmont and coastal areas Georgia has to offer. I am very appreciative of all the folks who contribute to those experiences.