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In recognition of decades’ worth of service to teaching and research, Professor David Pijawka has been awarded the Distinguished Professional Planner Award by the American Planning Association’s Arizona Chapter. The award, presented during the chapter’s annual conference on Oct. 26, celebrates the latest achievement in Pijawka’s remarkable career.
Pijawka started his career at Arizona State University in the mid-1980s in the School of Public Affairs, where his teaching and research focused on environmental planning and policy, public policy, and hazards management. Pijawka then joined the School of Urban Planning and Landscape Architecture, which ultimately merged with ASU’s geography program in 2009 to create the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning. In this newly formed school, Pijawka helped to develop the undergraduate and Master of Urban and Environmental Planning programs, assisted in the establishment of a new PhD in Urban Planning program, and has helped usher more than 60 students through their master and PhD efforts as an adviser.
“David’s input and impact is felt throughout our planning program,” said Trisalyn Nelson, director for the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning. “From his guidance of our students to the development of program curriculum, our successes are thanks in large part to his incredible contributions to our school and the planning field. He is an innovator and an early proponent of themes like urban sustainably and resilience, and very deserving of this award.”
Pijawka’s pioneering research in areas like urban sustainability and resiliency is widely recognized nationally and internationally. Pijawka's research also includes sustainable planning and design, disaster management and recovery, environmental justice and Native American community planning. His work in sustainability, specifically, has brought forth opportunities to speak on the subject around the world and has earned him the position of senior sustainability scientist with ASU’s School of Sustainability.
According to Pijawka, his professional and research pursuits were motivated by the desire to “improve living conditions for everyone, eliminate poverty, push for social justice and security, and make cities that provide these attributes ‘livable.’” Driven by his personal experience of being born in a refugee camp only made these qualities of a city all the more important to Pijawka.
With so many years dedicated to research and teaching, Pijawka is delighted in what he sees looking back on his career.
“Seeing the implementation of your work and ideas into an improved reality where environment, cities, place is enriched, improved, safer and happier is wonderful,” he said.
He continues to draw inspiration for more opportunities to teach and research each year as new students arrive.
“New students wanting to learn, wanting to change their environment is inspirational,” he said. “Imparting knowledge to the next generation and making your presence felt cannot be matched.”