Prof. Ward Lyles, PhD, AICP

College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, School of Public Affairs and Administration - Urban Planning Program
Associate Professor
Primary office:
215 Snow Hall


Summary

Dr. Lyles’ research and teaching interests center on the intersection of people, the built environment, and the natural environment. His current research projects explore 1) the use of planning to reduce long-term risks from natural hazards and climate change, 2) the use of social network analysis to examine the role of planners in local planning efforts, and 3) applying content analysis methods to evaluate planning documents.

Dr. Lyles has published articles in the Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, Cityscape, the Journal of Planning Literature, and Natural Hazards Review, plus other journals. He holds a Ph.D. from the Department of City and Regional Planning at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he also worked as a post-doctoral research associate. Prior to obtaining his Ph.D., he lived in Madison, Wisconsin, where he worked at 1000 Friends of Wisconsin, a planning-oriented non-profit organization, co-founded Madison Magnet, a social capital-oriented non-profit organization, and was very engaged in the civic and political life of the city. Dr. Lyles is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP).

Teaching

Engagement. All my teaching and mentoring extends from a desire to engage students. I structure my courses to engage each student with academic content, with their peers, with the experienced world beyond campus, with me as instructor, and with their own personality, values and approach to learning and action. I firmly believe – and have experienced in the classroom – that students learn more deeply through active learning in a safe, respectful environment that challenges everyone to engage socially and emotionally, as well as intellectually. Since arriving at KU, I have especially worked on creating an inclusive learning environment. I have participated in the Diversity Scholars Program and help generate a Self Assessment tool for supporting inclusive learning.

Classroom Teaching

All my courses employ active learning approaches. I emphasize concept application and evaluation, structured interactions that simulates professional settings, and student and instructor accountability. I teach one course (Quantitative Methods) strictly available to graduate students, mostly in Urban Planning, one course (Planning the American City) strictly available to undergraduates, and two courses (Sustainable Land Use Planning and Environmental Planning Techniques) primarily intended for urban planning graduates students interested in human-environment interactions. I have also taught an online course (Planning for Climate Change and Disasters) that focused on actually writing climate plans for cities in Kansas and Missouri that do not have them currently.

Teaching Interests

  • Environmental Planning
  • Land Use Planning
  • Research Methods
  • Statistics
  • Sustainable
  • Planning
  • Cities
  • Natural Hazards
  • Climate Change
  • Mitigation
  • Adaptation
  • Diversity
  • Equity
  • Inclusion

Research

Focus

Reducing long-term risks to individuals, communities, and nations from disasters and climate change is a grand challenge of the 21st century – perhaps the grand challenge facing humanity. Generating better understanding of risk-reduction planning processes and is essential for creating more sustainable and resilient communities. In my research program I aim to advance theoretical frameworks and conceptual understandings on how to develop policy and planning practices that foster better interactions between human and natural systems.

To date, my research has focused on five main areas: substantively: 1) natural hazards mitigation and climate change adaptation; 2) compassionate planning; procedurally: 3) planning processes and implementation; and methodologically: 4) planning evaluation and 5) network analysis. In addition to its direct contributions to knowledge on risk reduction, my hazards and climate-focused research program has broader implications for other areas of environmental management and planning and policy more generally.

Research Interests

  • Environmental Planning
  • Land Use Planning
  • Research Methods
  • Statistics
  • Sustainable
  • Planning
  • Cities
  • Natural Hazards
  • Climate Change
  • Mitigation
  • Adaptation
  • Social Networks
  • Network Analysis
  • Plan Quality
  • Plan Implementation

Memberships

American Institute of Certified Planners
American Planning Association
International Research Committee on Disasters (International Sociological Association)
Planning Evaluation Lab, University of British Columbia
Institute of Policy and Social Research, University of Kansas

Selected Publications

Lyles, W. Berke, P. & Overstreet, K. (2017). Cities Should Start Small When Adapting to Climate Change. Harvard Business Review https://hbr.org/2017/11/cities-should-start-small-when-adapting-to-climate-change

Smith, G. Lyles, W. & Berke, P. (2013). The Role of Hazard Mitigation Planning in Building Local Capacity and Commitment: A Tale of Six States. International Journal of Mass Emergencies and Disasters, 31(2), 178-203.

Selected Awards & Honors

National Science Foundation Next Generation of Hazards and Disasters Researcher Fellow 2015-16

Journal of Planning Education and Research top reviewer 2015 

KU Sustainability Leadership Award 2016

The Commons Symposium on Climate Justice April 2016


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