Louis Nelson headshot
LN

Louis Nelson

Professor
Unit: Provost's Office
Department: Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost
Office location and address
1709 University Ave
Charlottesville, Virginia 22903
Biography

Louis P. Nelson, Vice Provost for Academic Outreach, is the primary advocate and representative for community engagement, public service, and academic outreach programs across the university. UVA’s work in these areas takes place in Charlottesville, across the Commonwealth, the nation and the globe. Community Engagement includes a robust curricular program grounded in community partnerships and a commitment to the education of students for socially responsible, engaged citizenship. Public Service takes place in a variety of ways across the university from health clinics to K-12 programs to expert advice to local and state governments.

The university places a high commitment to supporting research that is clearly in the public interest, especially to public well-being across the Commonwealth of Virginia. And we support outreach programs that bring the academic resources of the university to the public. In his role as Vice Provost, Nelson serves as the chief advisor to the executive vice president and provost on all academic matters relating to community engagement and public service and he oversees numerous related academic units at the University including the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service, the Virginia Humanities, the Center for Liberal Arts, and the Virginia College Advising Corps. The work of his office appears on two websites, Academic Outreach and Engaged UVA.

Nelson is also a Professor of Architectural History and a specialist in the built environments of the early modern Atlantic world, with published work on the American South, the Caribbean, and West Africa. His current research engages the spaces of enslavement in West Africa and in the Americas, where he is working to document and interpret the buildings and landscapes that shaped the trans-Atlantic slave trade. He has a second collaborative project working to understand the University of Virginia as a landscape of slavery. Nelson is an accomplished scholar, with two book-length monographs published by UNC and Yale University Presses, three edited collections of essays, two terms as senior co-editor of Buildings and Landscapes--the leading English language venue for scholarship on vernacular architecture--and numerous articles. His books and articles have been awarded the 2017 Abbott Lowell Cummings Prize, the 2017 John Brickerhoff Jackson Prize, the 2016 Allen G. Noble Prize, the 2016 Best Essay Prize (SESAH), the 2015 Bishir Prize, and the 2010 Outstanding Book of the Year (SESAH), among others. His current work to document and preserve spaces of enslavement in Africa has led to his work in partnership with Sites of Conscience at the House of the Slaves in Senegal. Listeners can find a radio interview about his work here. He is also coeditor of a forthcoming volume on the spaces of slavery at Thomas Jefferson's Academical Village and has been a vocal supporter of the initiative to erect a monument to the University’s enslaved populations; for a brief public speech on this subject see this video. He is also a celebrated teacher, having won a university-wide teaching award in 2007 and serving as the 2008 UVA nominee for a state-wide Outstanding Faculty Award. He is currently the president of his professional organization, the Vernacular Architecture Forum.

Recovering Erased Histories: Summer Field Schools in partnership with the Vernacular Architecture Forum
Source: Mellon Foundation
June 17, 2020 – September 30, 2025
YALI - 2018
Source: International Research & Exchanges Board (IREX)
January 15, 2018 – August 15, 2018
YALI 2017
Source: International Research & Exchanges Board (IREX)
January 15, 2017 – August 15, 2017
ARH 1010: History of Architecture I
Credits: 3
We will explore how architecture affects us, as well as how it informs us about past societies. In what ways does architecture shape our experiences; how does it enhance or detract from human activities? This course will cover material from the pre-historic period through c. 1420 largely in Europe with some examples from Asia, Africa and the Americas. Classes will be a combination of lectures and in-class activities.
UNST 1400: Introduction to Community Engagement
Credits: 0–1
This course surveys theories and models of community engagement. Contemporary communities are diverse and interconnected; in order to impact positive social change, members in these communities must understand theories of community engagement. This course will introduce students to theories and models of community engagement including, but not limited to, theories of equity, citizenship, human rights, advocacy, activism, and civil discourse.
UNST 2400: Introduction to Community Engagement
Credits: 3
This course surveys theories and models of community engagement. Contemporary communities are diverse and interconnected; in order to impact positive social change, members in these communities must understand theories of community engagement. This course will introduce students to theories and models of community engagement including, but not limited to, theories of equity, citizenship, human rights, advocacy, activism, and civil discourse.
AMST 2559: New Course in American Studies
Credits: 1–4
New Course in subject of American Studies.
ARH 2700: Thomas Jefferson and American Architecture
Credits: 3
To Thomas Jefferson architecture was an art that encompassed more than simply shelter but embodied cultural and political values. This course will focus on his architectural and other designs (gardens, interiors, towns, campuses) and his interest in the arts.
ARTH 2753: Arts & Cultures of the Slave South
Credits: 3–4
This interdisciplinary course covers the American South to the Civil War. While the course centers on the visual arts 'architecture, material culture, decorative arts, painting, and sculpture' it is not designed as a regional history of art, but an exploration of the interrelations between history, material and visual cultures, foodways, music and literature in the formation of Southern identities.
ARH 3003: Evidence and Archives in Architectural History: Vernacular Architecture
Credits: 3
Vernacular Architecture is the architecture of the everyday. This class uses archival evidence to recover the context and meanings of everyday buildings.
ARH 3701: Early American Architecture
Credits: 3
American architecture from the first European contact to the death of Jefferson. Lectures and field trips.
ARH 4993: Independent Studies in Architectural History
Credits: 1–4
Advanced work on independent research topics by individual students.
ARTH 4998: Undergraduate Thesis Research
Credits: 3
Research for a thesis of approximately 50 written pages undertaken in the fall semester of the fourth year by art history majors who have been accepted into the department's Distinguished Majors Program.
ARTH 4999: Undergraduate Thesis Writing
Credits: 3
Writing of a thesis of approximately 50 written pages undertaken in the spring semester of the fourth year by art history majors who have been accepted into the department's Distinguished Majors Program.
ARH 4999: Major Special Study: Thesis
Credits: 3
Advanced independent research projects by fourth year architectural history students. Prerequisite: Instructor approval and departmental approval of topic.
UNST 5400: Introduction to Community Engagement
Credits: 1
This course surveys theories and models of community engagement. Contemporary communities are diverse and interconnected; in order to impact positive social change, members in these communities must understand theories of community engagement. This course will introduce students to theories and models of community engagement including, but not limited to, theories of equity, citizenship, human rights, advocacy, activism, and civil discourse.
ARH 5604: Field Methods I Building Archaeology
Credits: 3
This combined upper level undergraduate and graduate class is a field based seminar on methods of analyzing and recording historic buildings, especially vernacular buildings and landscapes. Students will be introduced to an intensive building analysis geared to understanding change over time. Students will also learn methods of careful field recording for the purposes of both documentation and analysis.
ARH 5993: Independent Studies in Architectural History
Credits: 1–4
Advanced work on independent research topics by individual students. Departmental approval of the topic is required.
UNST 6400: Introduction to Community Engagement
Credits: 3
This course surveys theories and models of community engagement. Contemporary communities are diverse and interconnected; in order to impact positive social change, members in these communities must understand theories of community engagement. This course will introduce students to theories and models of community engagement including, but not limited to, theories of equity, citizenship, human rights, advocacy, activism, and civil discourse.
ARH 7010: History of Architecture I
Credits: 3
This course will introduce students to the tools of visual analysis, reading architectural drawings and the study of architecture as a part of the larger cultural, social and political context of its society. While the course will focus on Western Europe, it will also include topics from the eastern Mediterranean and Asia.
ARH 7700: Adv Thomas Jefferson and American Architecture
Credits: 3
To Thomas Jefferson architecture was an art that encompassed more than simply shelter but embodied cultural and political values. This course will focus on his architectural and other designs (gardens, interiors, towns, campuses) and his interest in the arts. Graduate students will undertake additional course requirements.
ARH 7701: Early American Architecture
Credits: 3
A survey of American architecture from the first European contact to 1800 including Jefferson, urban form and landscape design.
ARH 7993: Independent Study: Architectural History
Credits: 1–3
Independent research on topics selected by individual students in consultation with a faculty advisor.
ARH 8003: Evidence and Archives in Architectural History: Vernacular Architecture
Credits: 3
Vernacular Architecture is the architecture of the everyday. This class uses archival evidence to recover the context and meanings of everyday buildings. Graduate course will have additional course requirements
ARH 8800: Teaching Experience
Credits: 3
Supervised teaching research under the guidance of a faculty supervisor, Permission of the Chair.
ARH 8994: Thesis
Credits: 3
Preparation and completion of a thesis..
ARAH 8998: Non-Topical Rsch, Masters Prep
Credits: 1–12
For master's research, taken before a thesis director has been selected.
ARH 8999: Thesis Project
Credits: 6–12
For Thesis Preparation, taken before a thesis director has been selected.
ARAH 8999: Non-Topical Research, Masters
Credits: 1–12
For master's research, taken under the supervision of a thesis director.
ARAH 9995: Supervised Research
Credits: 3–12
Supervised Research
ARAH 9998: Non-Topical Rsch,Doctoral Prep
Credits: 1–12
For doctoral research, taken before a dissertation director has been selected.
ARAH 9999: Non-Topical Research, Doctoral
Credits: 1–12
For doctoral research taken under the supervision of a dissertation director.
ARH 9999: Non-Topical Research
Credits: 3–12
For doctoral dissertation, taken under the supervision of a dissertation director.