I am a geographer. I study how people live in cities, the making of shared meanings of our surroundings, and the contemporary culture and politics of urban environments.

My research specialties include theories of nature-society relations; environmental justice; critical design studies; as well as the conceptual and material intersections of architecture, environment, and geography.

Former professional and scholarly lives include: architect, biologist, anthropologist.  

I love words and putting them together. I read a lot of poems, write a few. I draw and paint. I make photographs. I jot a lot of notes about what I hear, remember, see, and feel. Stones, feathers, fossils, notebooks. 

For select professional research projects, teaching experience, and publications, see below.

Contact me: ursula.a.lang@gmail.com

Equinox colors. Knife River, Lake Superior, September 2014.


Assistant Professor in Residence (Visiting Assistant Professor) in Political Ecology & Design.
History, Philosophy & the Social Sciences Dept. Rhode Island School of Design. August 2017 - June 2019.

Postdoctoral Research Fellow. Urban Studies Foundation
School of Geographical and Earth Sciences, University of Glasgow. January 2016 - August 2017. 

Scholar in Residence. Institute for Advanced Study, University of Minnesota. Fall 2015.


PhD, Geography. University of Minnesota, 2015
Dissertation: Cultivating Everyday Life: Yards, Nature &Time in the City
Advisors: Vinay Gidwani & Helga Leitner (UCLA)
Committee: John ArcherKatherine SolomonsonRoderick Squires

Master of Architecture. University of California - Berkeley, 2005
Design thesis: FoodSpace: Forms for Food in the City

Bachelor of Arts. Swarthmore College, 2000
Biology and Sociology & Anthropology (double major)
Anthropology thesis: "When The Water Came Up": Landscape Change, Shelter and Indigenous Knowledge on the Great Plains



Project ArchitectArkin Tilt Architects – Berkeley, CA (2005 – 2007)
For two years I designed and managed a variety of public and residential projects at a small and well known firm specializing in sustainable design: site and climate analysis, schematic design through construction documents, budgeting, detailing, drafting, materials selection; specializing in energy efficiency, alternative building materials and construction, photovoltaic, geothermal and alternative energy systems.



Lang U Living with Yards: Nature & Habits of Home. McGill Queens University Press. 
In progress. 



Strunk C & U Lang. “Gardening as more-than-urban-agriculture: Perspectives from smaller cities on urban gardening policies and practices.” Case Studies in the Environnment. Forthcoming.

Lang U “Keep off the grass! New Directions for Geographies of Yards and Private Gardens.” Geography Compass. https://doi.org/10.1111/gec3.12397 (2018)

Lang U "Connective Tissues: Everyday engagements with yards." GeoHumanities. (2018)

Lang U “Inhabiting Yards, Inhabiting Suburbs”, in J. Archer, P. Sandul and K. Solomonson (eds), Making Suburbia: New Histories of Everyday America, University of Minnesota Press. (2015) [link to book webpage]

Lang U “The Common Life of Yards” Urban Geography. (2014) 35(6): 852-869.

Lang U “Cultivating the Sustainable City: Urban Agriculture Policies and Gardening Projects in Minneapolis, MN,” Urban Geography. (2014) 35(4): 477-485.

Arnold J and Lang U. “Changing American home life: trends in domestic leisure and storage among middle-class families,” Journal of Family and Economic Issues. (2007) 28(1): 23-48.

Lang U “FoodSpace: forms for food production in the city,” Urban Agriculture Magazine, Resource Centers on Urban Agriculture and Food Security (RUAF). Netherlands. (2005) Dec., 37-38.

Lang, U. Antipode (2014) Review of: Harris, D. Little White Houses: How the Postwar Home Constructed Race in America. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. (2013) LINK

Lang, U. Journal of Planning Literature (2013) Review of: Young, R. Stewardship of the Built Environment: Sustainability, Preservation and Reuse, (2012) Washington, DC: Island Press.



I am a social and cultural geographer who studies environmental planning, design and management.

My teaching and research directly animate one another. My scholarship is motivated by a desire to understand relations of power and social inequalities hidden within ordinary landscapes. Social differences such as race, gender and class can be reinforced and disrupted by environmental planning. I am most interested in how this takes shape in the interplay between built environments and the creative possibilities of people’s practices and experiences. To better understand this, I bring social science perspectives in closer conversation with design and the environmental humanities through diverse methods including ethnography, participatory mapping, and visual representation.

I love to teach. At the heart of my pedagogy is my commitment to more just, equitable, inclusive and caring environments. I try to help students think geographically about their worlds.

Courses taught & prepared:

  • Work, Technology & Value: Geographic Perspectives on Design

  • Life in Common

  • Infrastructure & Society

  • Climate Futures: Experiencing our Changing Climate

  • Geographies of Social Difference & Justice

  • Theories of Nature & Society

  • Cities in Film

  • Resilience: Critical Perspectives for Urban Futures

  • Race, Nature & Space

  • Global Urbanisms

  • Qualitative Methods & Ethnography

  • Land, Property & Nature

  • Knowing Places: Map, Image, Text, Story

  • The American Yard

  • Ruins & Rust: The Natures of Deindustrialization