Campus News

Whitney Barr selected as first CELA Fountain Scholar

Portrait of smiling woman.
Whitney Barr (Photo by Nancy Evelyn/UGA)

The award was established to help students of color advance their landscape architecture education

Whitney Barr has won the inaugural 2021 Fountain Scholar award, granted by The Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture. Named after Charles Fountain, this prestigious award was established to help Black, Indigenous and other students of color advance their landscape architecture education. The CELA award pays tribute to Fountain’s role as one of the first five African American scholars to earn a professional degree in landscape architecture. He went on to actively recruit and mentor a new generation of African American designers.

Barr is a Master of Landscape Architecture student at the University of Georgia’s College of Environment and Design, a USDA Sustainable Food Systems National Needs Fellow and the first recipient of the Landscape Architecture Foundation’s scholarship for Inclusive Community Design.

“Even before meeting Whitney, I heard about her many successful activities related to diversity, equity and inclusion and social equity in her professional and academic careers,” said the College of Environment and Design’s Associate Dean Ashley Steffens. “While at the CED, she has leveraged her knowledge and life experiences to inspire meaningful work in her landscape architectural studies and studio projects, demonstrating systemic change for Black and brown populations through various means.”

In March, Barr led an interactive Design Cypher—a call-and-response construct derived from hip-hop freestyle and applied to a community design process—on reimagining a racially inclusive pedestrian plaza at College Avenue in downtown Athens in partnership with Athens Anti-Discrimination Movement.

Whitney Barr leads a design cypher to engage passers-by in discussion for a racially inclusive plaza for College Square in downtown Athens. (Photo by Lynn Abdouni)

She spent the past two years engaged in research for her thesis, “Designing for Racial Healing: (How) Can Diasporic Crop Landscapes Offer A Physical Design Response to Plantation Futures on Sapelo Island, Georgia?” Sapelo Island is the home of one of the last  intact Gullah-Geechee communities.

Barr is a Spelman College alumna and was a 2013-2014 Fulbright Researcher in Seoul, South Korea. Before coming to UGA, she worked as a digital marketer and urban gardener within Atlanta’s food space. Barr’s personal health journey led her to embrace food as medicine and food sovereignty. Post-graduation, she plans to advocate for food and environmental justice through education, landscape design, policy reform and urban planning. In the future, Barr also looks forward to running her own medicinal plants boutique farm business.