• Home
  • Research
  • Research

In July of 2017, the Urban Planning program joined the School of Public Affairs and Administration at the University of Kansas which is ranked #1 in local government management and #9 in public management and leadership according to the 2017 U.S. News and World Report.

Urban Planning faculty are experts and leaders in urban policy and related fields. 



Professor Bonnie J. Johnson’s research draws from the related fields of urban planning, political science, and public administration.  All three fields seek to understand how elected officials, public servants, and citizens interact with each other, governmental structures, and bureaucratic agencies to pursue the common good. This focus results in research on civic bureaucracy, the planning profession, staff reports, media and planning, comparative studies of public service professions and their codes of ethics, and transportation and land use policy related to sustainability. At the 2017 National Planning Conference, her session "Leading with Staff Reports" was among the 10 most attended and talked about sessions at the conference out of 160 sessions with 6,300 conference attendees.

Selected Recent Publications

Johnson, B. J. (2018). Planners as Leaders: Finding Their Comfort Zone. International Journal of Public Leadership, 14(3), 155-178. https://doi.org/10.1108/ijpl-04-2018-0022 

Johnson, B. J., Peck, M. K., & Preston, S. A. (2017). City Managers Have Ethics Too? Comparing Planning and City Management Codes of Ethics. Journal of the American Planning Association, 83(2), 183-201. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01944363.2017.1289114 

Johnson, B. J. (2017). The Better Staff Report. Planning, 83(3), 20-24. 

Johnson, B. J. and Lyles, W. (2016). The Unexamined Staff Report: Results from an Evaluation of a National Sample. Journal of the American Planning Association, 82(1), 22-36.

Johnson, B. J. and Halegoua, G. R. (2015). Can Social Media Save a Neighborhood Organization? Planning Practice & Research, 30(3), 248-269.

Johnson, B. J., Goerdel, H., Lovrich, N. P., Jr. and Pierce, J. C., (2013). Social Capital and Emergency Management Planning: A Test of Community Context Effects on Formal and Informal Collaboration. American Review of Public Administration first published online October 9, 2013 doi: 10.1177/0275074013504127.

Johnson, B. J. (2012). TV, Boon or Bane? Interactive Democracy and a Televised Town Meeting. Planning Theory & Practice. 13 (2), 275-293.

Johnson, B. J. (2012). Public Service Motivation and the Technical, Political, and Facilitator Roles of City Planners. International Journal of Public Administration, 35 (1), 30-45.

Johnson, B. J. & Graves, M. (2011): Keeping It Real: What Planning Can Learn from Reality TV, Journal of the American Planning Association, 77 (3), 214-231.


Professor Ward Lyles’s research and teaching interests center on the intersection of people, the built environment, and the natural environment with a recent focus on the use of land use approaches to reduce long-term risks from natural hazards and climate change. Lyles recently received a prestigious National Science Foundation CAREER grant to study local decision making aimed at mitigating natural hazards and damages due to disasters, such as flooding and hurricanes. 

Selected Recent Publications

Lyles, W. and S.S. White. 2019. “Who Cares: Arnstein’s Ladder, the Emotional Paradox of Public Engagement, and (Re)-Imagining Planning as Caring. Journal of the American Planning Association.

Lyles, W., S.S. White, and B. Lavelle. 2018. “The Prospect of Compassionate Planning” Journal of Planning Literature.33(3): 247-266.

Lyles, W., P. Berke, and K. Overstreet. 2018. "Where to Begin Municipal Climate Adaptation Planning: Evaluating Two Local Choices." Journal of Environmental Planning and Management. 61(11): 1994-2014

Johnson, B. J., & Lyles, W. 2016. The Unexamined Staff Report: Results From an Evaluation of a National Sample. Journal of the American Planning Association, 82(1), 22-36.

Lyles, W., P. Berke, and G. Smith. 2015. "Local plan implementation: assessing conformance and influence of local plans in the United States." Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design 0265813515604071.

Lyles, W. 2015. "Using social network analysis to examine planner involvement in environmentally oriented planning processes led by non-planning professions." Journal of Environmental Planning and Management 58(11): 1961-1987.



Professor Kirk McClure’s research is focused on the provision of affordable housing and the behavior of housing markets.  His work examines the performance of various federal assisted housing programs in terms of helping to break down barriers preventing the poor and minorities from living in high-opportunity neighborhoods.  His work has won multiple awards.  The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development supports his research and appointed him to the position of Scholar in Residence.  In August 2017, McClure was asked to present testimony on the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program to the U.S. Senate Finance Committee Hearing on America’s Affordable Housing Crisis: Challenges and Solutions.  

Selected Recent Publications:

McClure, K., A. R. Williamson, H. Han, and B. Weiss.  forthcoming. The LIHTC Program, Racial or Ethnically-Concentrated Areas of Poverty, and High-Opportunity Neighborhoods. Texas A&M Journal of Property Law.

Lens, M., K. McClure, and B. Mast. 2019. Does Jobs Proximity Matter in the Housing Choice Voucher Program?  Cityscape, 21(1): 145-162, 2019.

McClure, K. 2018. What should be the future of the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Program? Housing Policy Debate 29(1): 65-81.

McClure, K. 2018. The Allocation of Rental Assistance Resources: The Paradox of High Housing Costs and High Vacancy Rates. The International Journal of Housing Policy 19(1): 69-94.

McClure, K. 2018. Length of Stay in Assisted Housing. Cityscape 20(1): 11-38.

McClure, K. 2017. The Future of Housing Policy: Fungibility of rental Housing Programs to Better Fit With Market Need. Housing Policy Debate, 26(3): 486-489, 2017.

McClure, K., A. Schwartz and L. Taghavi. 2016. Vouchers and Neighborhood Distress: The Unrealized Potential for Families with Housing Choice Vouchers to Reside in Neighborhoods with Low Levels of Distress. Cityscape 18(3): 207-227.

McClure, K. and B. Johnson. 2015. Housing Programs Fail to Deliver on Neighborhood Quality Re-examined. Housing Policy Debate 25(3): 463-496.

McClure, K., A. Schwartz and L. Taghavi. 2015. Housing Choice Voucher Location Patterns a Decade Later. Housing Policy Debate 25(2): 208-214.



Professor Stacey Swearingen White’s research sits broadly in the realm of environmental planning and sustainability. She is especially interested in questions of what conditions facilitate new sustainability practices at the local government level, and within higher education. White’s work has examined innovations in stormwater management, campus sustainability plans, water quality perceptions, and the future of rural Kansas communities. White co-founded the center for Sustainability at the University of Kansas. As part of this position, White assisted in the development and implementation of Campus Sustainability Plan. White was also a co-principal investigator for a 5-year, National Science Foundation-funded grant project team looking at how biofuels production and climate change concerns are influencing Kansas farmer land use decisions.

Selected Recent Publications

White, S.S.. 2010. “Out of the Rubble and Towards a Sustainable Future: The “Greening” of Greensburg, Kansas.” Sustainability 2, 7: 2302-2319. Available online at: http://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/2/7/2302/>>

White, S.S.. (2014) Campus Sustainability Plans in the United States: Where, What, and How to Evaluate? International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education 15 (2): 228-241

White, S.S, and T. Selfa. 2013. Shifting Lands: Exploring Kansas Farmer Decision-making in an Era of Climate Change and Biofuels Production. Environmental Management 51(2): 379-391.  DOI: 101007/s00267-012-9991-6.


KU Today
One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
44 nationally ranked graduate programs.
—U.S. News & World Report
Top 50 nationwide for size of library collection.
5th nationwide for service to veterans —"Best for Vets: Colleges," Military Times