Nadine Gerdts explores the cultural and environmental dynamics of urban landscapes through her research, design and academic practices. A senior critic and lecturer at RISD since 1995, she addresses contemporary issues in landscape and urbanism through interdisciplinary studios and seminars that link social, cultural and environmental issues to design. She has worked extensively with youth in urban public schools and with neighborhood organizations on projects that strengthen the livability of cities.
Gerdts has directed such interdisciplinary projects as the Public Health + Public Space Initiative focused on the Olneyville neighborhood of Providence and InsideOut Studio developing site-specific design projects with teens and youth in Boston and Providence public schools. Her current research projects include Lines of Equity – Post-Industrial Urban Corridors, a study of bicycle use and neighborhood transformation, and Beyond Borders: Urban Futures, a collaboration at the intersection of design, planning, climate science and technology with partners at Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences at Alnarp, supported with a Swedish Foundation for International Cooperation in Research and Higher Education, STINT Initiation Grant.
Gerdts’ early work was instrumental in securing permanent open space legislation protecting urban gardens in Boston’s South End and Roxbury neighborhoods, where she was director of community design with Boston Urban Gardeners. As a Fulbright researcher in the Nordic countries, she developed a deep interest in public landscapes and neighborhood fabric. She advocates for citizen-based projects promoting innovation in the civic realm and is the appointed chair of her town’s citizen tree board tasked with oversight of the community’s urban forest of more than 50,000 trees.