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Sustainability Science & Studies

Our researchers explore human-environment relationships, landschaft, landscape morphology and natural hazards as they are reconfigured into contemporary themes of sustainability such as political ecology and land change science. We explore the tradeoffs among environmental services and human well-being as the architecture of landscapes change, as well as the water and climate footprint of arid land cities, public perceptions of climate change, and more.

The School of the Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning builds on rich geographical research traditions of human-environment relationships, landschaft, landscape morphology and vulnerability/natural hazards research to address sustainability problems in political ecology, water resources management, and land change science. Specific research projects cover the gamut of sustainability science, including tradeoffs between environmental services and human wellbeing with landscape change, strategies for reducing the climate footprint of arid land cities, public perceptions of climate adaptation policies, cultural inertia and resilience, vulnerability to environmental perturbations, and decision making under uncertainty for water resources management. Faculty projects focus on the the Southwest US, but also include work in other regions of the United States and in Mexico and Asia. While faculty in the school bring skills in spatial analysis, GIS, and remote sensing, this theme integrates qualitative and quantitative methods to understand complex and dynamic human-natural coupled systems.

The activities of Sustainable Science faculty represent the interests of both geographers and planners—linking spatial analysis to planning practice.  Geographers and planners partner in areas of urban heat island mitigation, sustainable urban design, and sustainable transportation systems.  Faculty who work in this area are affiliated with the Decision Center for a Desert City, the School of SustainabilityJulie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of SustainabilitySchool of Human Evolution and Social Change and School of Life Sciences.

Ronald Dorn

Dorn, professor of geography, is also co-coordinator of the Arizona Geographic Alliance, a K-12 outreach program to promote geographic education in Arizona.

Amy Frazier
Assistant Professor

Frazier’s research interests are focused on the integration of remote sensing, GIS, and landscape ecology to study global environmental change.

David Hondula
Assistant Professor

Hondula, assistant professor and member of the Urban Climate Research Center, researches the societal impacts of weather and climate, including efforts to learn how individuals experience and cope with extreme heat.

Kelli Larson

Kelli Larson, a professor of geography and sustainability, focuses her work on human-environment interactions and the implications for water governance and urban sustainability.

Kevin McHugh
Associate Professor

McHugh is a cultural geographer with research interests in geographical thought & theory, geohumanities, post-phenomenology, and more-than-human geographies.

Sara Meerow
Assistant Professor

Meerow combines the disciplines of geography and urban planning as she researches how to make cities more resilient in the face of climate change as well as other social and environmental hazards.

David Pijawka

Pijawka's research focuses on sustainable planning and design, disaster management and recovery, environmental justice, and Native American community planning.

David Sailor

Sailor's work focuses on the intersection of climate with the built environment. He currently serves on the American Meteorological Society's Board on the Urban Environment and International Association for Urban Climate.

B.L. Turner II
Regents' Professor and Gilbert F. White Professor of Environment and Society

Turner studies human-environment relationships from the ancient Maya to contemporary sustainability science. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, among other honors.

Elizabeth Wentz
Dean & Professor

Her research interests include: shape and pattern analysis, geographic information science, applications of GIS to urban environment, urban remote sensing and water resource management.

Susanna Werth
Assistant Research Professor

Werth's work engages in the monitoring, modeling and forecasting the Earth's water mass budget variations using remote sensing data.

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