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Professor of Environmental Studies at Rollins College, Winter Park,Florida


Research Interest:

Intersection of regional planning, environmental protection, and urbanism with sustainability and resiliency


Bruce Stephenson is dedicated to the art of city planning. A Rollins College Environmental Studies professor, his research and teaching reveal how history informs the intersection of regional planning, sustainability, and urbanism. Bruce is a champion of the pragmatic application of the liberal arts, earning respect and accolades from community partners. He has served on an array of boards and committees and comments on civic issues in editorials, media interviews, and a series of PBS documentaries aired in Florida. 

A Floridian, Stephenson earned a Masters of City & Regional Planning from The Ohio State University. He spent two years with the Pinellas County Planning Department before earning a PhD at Emory University. Stephenson’s doctoral research unveiled John Nolen’s previously undocumented 1923 plan for St. Petersburg, Florida’s first comprehensive city plan. Nolen's timeless blueprint is the focus of Stephenson's first book,Visions of Eden, Environmentalism, Urban Planning,  and City Building in St. Petersburg, Florida, 1900-1995.  (Ohio State Press 1997)

Stephenson’s Nolen research introduced him to two founding members of the Congress of the New Urbanism, Andres Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk (DPZ). Nolen inspired their plan for Seaside, Florida, the prototype New Urbanist community. In 1990 Stephenson presented his findings at a John Nolen Symposium hosted by the University of Miami and DPZ. Since then he has written extensively on Nolen. John Nolen, Landscape Architect and City Planner (Library of American Landscape History) documents the noted reformer’s genius for place-making and reveals why his plans continue to inform professional practitioners and civic organizations. Stephenson also wrote the Introduction to a new edition of Nolen’s visionary text New Ideals in the Planning of Villages, Towns and Cities (Routledge Press). Written near the end of World War I, it provided a template for the new urban nation that Nolen employed in designing the iconic new towns of Mariemont, Ohio and Venice, Florida. Stephenson has also documented the accomplishments of such noted figures as Lewis Mumford, Aldo Leopold, and Rachel Carson. As a consultant, he utilizes historical precedent to inform commissions, which include the Master Plan for Winter Park’s Central Park, the ecological restoration of the Genius Preserve, and the Greenspace Plan for the Winter Springs Town Center. 


Metropolitan Orlando having been know as one of the most dangerous pedestrian environment in the nation, has been the beneficiary of Bruce's actively engagement in mitigating this disaster. In 1989, Bruce was the lead consultant for Orange County’s citizen review of its Comprehensive Policy Plan. The yearlong process produced a multi-modal approach to transportation planning; the starting point for a score of projects Stephenson pursued to rectify the inefficiencies of suburban sprawl. Recently, he established Orlando Metropolitan Greenspaces to identify pedestrian oriented civic spaces, and garnered an EPA Sustainability Grant to Activate SunRail in Winter Park


Representative Projects Designed to the Human Scale:

Audubon Park, Orlando’s First Eco-District

Meadow Woods & SunRail: Options for Transit-Oriented Development

Interlachen Avenue as a Green Street

Wekiva 2020: Conceptual Design Wekiva River Protection Area

Winter Springs Town Center Greenspace & Trail Plan

Cady Way Bicycle Trail

Cross Seminole Bicycle Trail

Seminole-Wekiva Bicycle Trail


R. Bruce Stephenson, PhD

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