Rosetta S. Elkin

Associate Professor McGill University
Academic title(s): 

Ph.D. History, University of Antwerp | MLA, University of Toronto | BFA, Concordia University

Rosetta S. Elkin
Associate Director of the Peter G.h Fu School of Architecture and Research Associate, Harvard Arnold Arboretum

I am convinced that the role of plants is generally overlooked in the study of climate change. As a result, I position projects to heighten human awareness of their terrestrial landscape. I study active practices between humans and landscape, ones of acceptance, equity and reciprocity, whereby plant life is the mediator. My pedagogy considers the kind of living environments that students will be inheriting in the 21st century, with a particular focus on plants in ecology, horticulture and human affairs more broadly. And I use design as a means to address the risk, injustice, and instability brought about by the shifts in our shared climate. My fieldwork is established through practical and personal efforts, and I use exhibition, open access publishing, and collaborative research projects to promote a more thoughtful and accountable research agenda. I’ve had the privilege exhibiting my work at the Victoria and Albert Museum, Les Jardins de Metis, Chelsea Festival, and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, and write for publications including Journal of Landscape Architecture, New Geographies, Harvard Design Magazine, Oase, Arnoldia and Lotus International. Before joining McGill, I was an Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture at Harvard Graduate School of Design and co-directed the Master of Design Studies (MDES) in Risk and Resilience. Prior to those years, I also taught landscape at the Academie Bouwkunst and the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in the Netherlands.

Awards, honours, and fellowships: 

Fellow of the American Academy in Rome, Harvard Climate Change Solutions Fund, Graham Foundation for the Arts, Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, Harvard Asia Center, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.

Selected publications: 

Dryland: Afforestation and the Politics of Plant Life (Forthcoming, University of Minnesota Press)

A monograph publication about the geo-political ambitions of continental tree planting programs that explains the assumptions of greening strategies and disaster response.

The Landscape of Retreat (K.Verlag, Berlin, 2021)

A fieldwork based inquiry into climate adaptation that pays close attention to the land that is l eft behind following relocation schemes.

Tiny Taxonomy: The Role of Individual Plants in Landscape Architecture (Actar, 2017)

A publication that reflects on the scale of individual plants in practice through a reading of three garden installations, designed and installed by the Author.

Areas of interest: 

Landscape studies, Urban ecology, Climate change, Plant humanities

Back to top