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Marina Alberti |The Benefits and Limits of Urban Tree Planting for Environmental and Human Health

Many of the world’s major cities have implemented tree planting programs based on assumed environmental and social benefits of urban forests. Recent studies have increasingly tested these assumptions and provide empirical evidence for the contributions of tree planting programs, as well as their feasibility and limits, for solving or mitigating urban environmental and social issues.

Click below to read more of this perspective paper co authored by UDP Professor Marina Alberti





Marina Alberti | International Webinar on Urban Sustainability



Join CEDEUS (Centre of Urban Sustainable Development) of the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile in Santiago on March 9 at 10:00am PST for an International Webinar | “Urban Sustainability in an Eco-Evolutionary Perspective” a talk with Marina Alberti , to be held on March 9 at 3:00 p.m. (Chile). The talk will be broadcast through the Youtube channel of the Institute of Urban and Territorial Studies , and the IEUT academic, Carolina Rojas , will moderate.

March 9 (previously scheduled for Jan 12) 3:00 p.m. (Chile)  which will be 10:00 am. PST

More info on their website here


Manish Chalana | Upcoming Book :Heritage Conservation in Postcolonial India

Associate Professor Manish Chalana has a book coming out at the end of the month:

Heritage Conservation in Postcolonial India
Approaches and Challenges
Edited By Manish Chalana, Ashima Krishna
Copyright Year 2021

Heritage Conservation in Postcolonial India seeks to position the conservation profession within historical, theoretical, and methodological frames to demonstrate how the field has evolved in the postcolonial decades and follow its various trajectories in research, education, advocacy, and practice.

Click Here for more information






Bob Mugerauer | Decision Making


Dr. Bob Mugerauer has completed work that brings to fruition much of his research conducted over the last ten years on health, and well-being. Specifically, problems concerning decision-making in the professions cover not only the environmental disciplines and practices but also health care and medical clinical practice. Joining many European and American physicians and nurses—especially a group of Scandinavian nurses—recent work conceptually clarifies and critiques excessive claims of positivistic medicine that would minimize the roles of judgment and experiential understanding.

His forthcoming essays will appear in the major Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice in three parts. The editors have made an unprecedented decision to publish the 30,000 word document in successive issues: Professional Judgment in Clinical Practice: part 1: recovering original, moderate evidence-based health care; part 2: Knowledge into Practice; part 3: a better alternative to strong Evidence-Based Medicine. The work has been triple refereed, with a final editorial evaluation as “being a strongoverview of the debates and a significant contribution to the literature.”

Congruent with this, he has been elected a “Distinguished Fellow” to the UK Society for Person-Centered Healthcare. This brings an invitation to publish next work in the European Journal for Person Centered Healthcare” and participate actively in the Society’s Conferences.

Himanshu Grover | Community Resilience Handbook for Disaster Preparedness and Management

Dr. Himanshu Grover

Dr. Himanshu Grover’s research lands at the intersection of land use planning, community resilience, and climate change. Dr. Grover is also the co-Director of the Institute for Hazard Mitigation and Planning at the College of Built Environments. His research emphasizes place-based planning policies to balance economic, environmental, and social priorities to achieve equitable development and enhance community resilience.

“The same amount of money that you spent, let’s say, for building your capacity to provide a specific kind of risk communication through your social media platform, can be used for floods, for earthquakes, for terrorist attacks or for epidemics.” 

In 2019, America with Kerala: Uniting for a Disaster Resilient Kerala, a joint project organized by the U.S. Consulate General in Chennai, the Centre for Public Policy Research (CPPR) in Kochi, and the Kerala State Disaster Management Authority (KSDMA) took place in response to disastrous floods and landslides that devastated Kerala, India. Dr. Grover participated in the project serving as the U.S. subject matter expert. He delivered the keynote address in which he shared the American experience in disaster management, and how it can inform Disaster Management in India. One of his key messages was to adopt an “All Hazards Approach” as a framework for risk reduction. Additionally, he highlighted the need for knowledge building and training at all levels to increase awareness about local hazard threats.

One product of the project was a community resilience resource guide for disaster preparedness that was released late fall of 2020. The guide includes input from community leaders who led disaster response efforts during the 2018 and 2019 floods and landslides in Kerala, as well as U.S. and Indian subject matter experts and other expert sources.

Following the launch of the community resilience handbook, Dr. Himanshu Grover also participated as an expert panelist by the US Consulate in Chennai. This online event had an attendance of more than 500 people internationally. The November 2020 panel, moderated by Dr. D. Dhanuraj, CPPR Chairman, included speakers Dr. Muralee Thummarukudy, Chief of Disaster Risk Reduction, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP); Dr. Himanshu Grover, co-director, Institute for Hazard Mitigation and Planning, College of Built Environments, University of Washington; Dr. Nivedita P. Haran, IAS (Retired), Honorary Chairperson, Board of Directors, Centre for Migration and Inclusive Development, Kerala; and Dr. Shekhar L. Kuriakose, Member Secretary, Kerala State Disaster Management Authority.

As a follow-up to the 2019 initiative, U.S. State Department, through U.S. Consulate General in Chennai, asked Dr. Grover to develop a Disaster Management Curriculum for a new, 40-hour elective course to be incorporated into existing academic programs in universities, autonomous colleges, and other relevant governmental and non-governmental agencies across India. After developing the curriculum, Dr. Grover will visit India on a speaking tour to promote the curriculum among relevant institutions. This American/internationally approved curriculum will help develop regional expertise in disaster management; promote academic collaboration between Indian and U.S. institutions in this area and highlight opportunities to attract students and practitioners across India to seek higher studies in this field in the United States. Dr. Grover anticipates that his initiative will establish the College of Built Environments as a leader in disaster management education. He hopes this collaboration will result in establishing partnerships with reputed Indian educational institutions and professional bodies which will lead to increased opportunities for student recruitment as well as placements for our graduates.


Robert Freitag | Story Telling

Robert Freitag

Bob Freitag is actively involved in exploring how storytelling can help communities address difficult emotionally charged topics. Opportunities available through storytelling is described in a published in the Story telling Freitag et al JEM. He published a follow up article that actually tells a story, “showings” how threaten community residents address climate change. Bob is currently write a screen play, again showing, how a participate let process using storytelling.


Almost everyone can relate to the experience of telling a story. This article explores how storytelling is being used to identify risks and create hazard mitigation strategies, as well as how it can promote learning within the field of emergency management. Storytelling is both a pedagogical tool and an invaluable resource for practicing emergency managers. This article illustrates the ways in which the process of telling a story enables participates to talk about stressful concerns, internalize complex concepts, and even have fun. The article explores how storytelling drove the public process leading to the adoption of hazard mitigation plans, and how eight types of stories, as defined by the American humorist Kurt Vonnegut, can strengthen emergency management education. This article also explores how research suggests that storytelling can provide an effective way for both the tellers of story and their listeners to find meaning in events, provide context to what is being taught, transmit emotion along with information, develop a professional identity, build empathy and compassion, and help with remembering events and lessons learned. The authors have a long history of utilizing storytelling and present this article in order to share and explore storytelling as applied to the discipline of emergency management.

Dan Abramson | Lessons Learned from Post-2008 Wenchuan Earthquake Community Recovery


Professor Dan Abramson

Dr. Dan Abramson co- edited a  Special Issue of Natural Hazards (Springer): Lessons Learned from post-2008 Wenchuan Earthquake Community Recovery

“In it, we sought to highlight recent scholarship that reflects on the quality of community-level recovery and community planning processes following one of the largest natural disasters in modern times, which significantly affected one of the world’s great economies. During the first few years following the earthquake, most of the scholarship tended to be descriptive, emphasizing the process of rapid physical reconstruction. In subsequent years, more thoughtful scholarship has begun to emerge regarding community aspects of the recovery process, but little of this has been available to international audiences. This collection of papers is our attempt to help address this need.” – Rob Olshansky

UDP Alum Paul Inghram to be honored as FAICP

Photo of Paul Inghram

Recently, the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) accepted UW Urban Design & Planning alum Paul Inghram into the College of Fellows. The College of Fellows is one of the highest honors in the planning profession. Fellows of AICP are nominated and selected by their peers. The award recognizes outstanding contributions as a professional planner. Paul currently serves on the UDP Professionals Council. Over the course of his 15 year tenure, he has been a dedicated supporter of the Department. and h to provide mentorship to many students.

Ultimately, this exciting news comes during a challenging time. Covid-19 is impacting the way that communities work together to stay healthy and prevent further spread of the virus. In reflecting on being awarded this great honor, Paul touched on some of the concerns and challenges that planner face in the midst of a pandemic.

UDP: This is very exciting news! How does it feel to be selected to join the College of Fellows?

Paul: First of all, it is a great honor and I’m proud, humbled, and thankful to be so recognized. It’s something that I’ve dreamed of and worked towards for a long time. Obviously, this news comes at a time when the nearly hourly updates about coronavirus overwhelm our thoughts. The quickly changing news has been hard to keep up with. Moreover, the immediate effect on families that are suffering with the virus’ impact makes it clear that, while I’m grateful for the honor to be part of the College of Fellows, there are more important things in the world.

UDP: How do you foresee the Coronavirus impacting the planning profession?

Paul: Planners are in a funny place. We’re used to talking about significant issues like housing, homelessness, transportation, climate change, public health, and equity. These are topics that our communities care about and planning can make a difference. And now, in today’s moment, those issues take a backseat to the more pressing challenge of slowing the virus.

At my work, we’re trying to figure out how to keep moving forward even as many our elected leaders are preoccupied and won’t have space for working on planning for some time. We have a once in a decade plan adoption anticipated for the end of May at our annual meeting. Whether it occurs or not is now in jeopardy. The annual event usually draws several hundred people from around the region. We’re now quickly thinking of what our options are to hold a large, public meeting. What was meant to be a celebration of completing a plan that will be an example for the country may now need to be conducted online.

UDP: Are there also opportunities that might exist in this situation for planners?

Paul: This is requiring all of us to rethink how we plan. How do we talk with coworkers when we aren’t at work every day? How do we hold public meetings while maintaining separation between people? Can boards effectively engage in policy debates if they can’t meet in person? In the Seattle area, we’ve spent a lot of time preparing for the ‘big one,’ an earthquake that would disrupt business and make buildings unusable. Subsequently, that preparation is paying off as we use it and learn to adapt to our new virus world. Population growth isn’t likely to stop and planning issues won’t go away. Most importantly we now have to be creative about how to engage our communities and address these still important issues even if we can’t use traditional techniques.

UDP: Do you have any final thoughts to share about the nomination process and receiving this honor?

Paul: Above all, I want to thank my community of supporters. They gave me the confidence I needed get through the nomination process. I am also thankful for their encouragement throughout my career. They have inspired me to have faith in our communities, to aspire to a better future, and to work hard toward a greater good.

All about balance

How a hotshot firefighter manages a demanding career and the rigors of graduate school

There are just over 100 hotshot firefighter crews in the United States. They’re part of U.S. Forest Service’s elite firefighting team, a group of specially trained professionals that fight fire in some of the most extreme conditions. During fire season, they work an intense schedule, staying on-call for 16-hour days, for 14 days straight, for about six months a year.

In the off-season, hotshots work to keep up their endurance and stay fit. Some also choose to take on other challenges outside of firefighting. Will McKinney, for instances, is earning a master’s degree in Infrastructure Planning & Management from the University of Washington.

Becoming a Student

Will, who just finished his eleventh Hotshot season, says the MIPM program was a no brainer.

“I came to the realization that if I stay in firefighting, hotshot is [where I want to be],” Will shared. But it’s a really hard lifestyle and the physical labor made me realize I need something else – year round work. How can I use my fire experience so I can grow in another direction?”

Will McKinney on the Pipeline Fire near Yakima, Washington. The crew is in the background engaged in direct line construction on the fire’s edge.

One of the biggest challenges for anyone balancing a career and school is finding time to study. It takes creativity and the right team to create a personalized plan. Part of the strength of the Department of Urban Design and Planning’s two-year, part-time, online graduate degree is the flexibility of the program. MIPM can often be tailored to the individual student, regardless of situation.

Will reached out to the department’s academic director, Wendy Freitag, before enrolling. He shared his job, schedule, and goals, and together, they came up with a way to customize the program so Will could earn his master’s.

Making it work

Fire season can be unpredictable. If it starts early or runs late, Will has to put his studies on hold, take an incomplete grade or work double-time to catch up. What’s more, there are no breaks in fires. Will says major fires are now back-to-back-to-back.

“‘Fire season’ is now a ‘fire year’ because there are so many big, destructive fires outside the season.”

Resources, including the number of firefighters available, are limited. That puts stress on crews and puts more land in danger. “We have fewer ‘slow’ years and we don’t have the resources to fight the more difficult fires.”

During fire season, Will keeps in touch with his professors and program administrators so they’re aware of his situation and whether he’ll be able to start classes on time. Will says the availability of UW’s faculty and staff, the ability to accommodate a non-traditional work schedule and the quality of education make UW’s program stand out among other online programs.

Joining the team

Will took the advice of a friend and got certified as a firefighter. He was drawn to a job that required physical fitness and teamwork. In 2006 he started firefighting on what’s called a Type 2 team. These teams focus on fire suppression and fuels management. It’s been go, go, go for Will ever since. “I applied; the next week I was working, and two days later, I was at a fire.” Soon after, he applied to be a hotshot.

The federal government established hotshot crews in the 1940s to fight fires in Southern California’s Cleveland and Angeles National Forests. The hotshot teams work in the hottest part of the wildfires. They are trained to handle the strategic and tactical aspects of firefighting.

Looking to the future

Will says he’s seen a lot of change in the time he’s been on the job. “The way we engage fire has completely changed. The old way was to put every fire out. Now, fire is so intense that we just can’t do that,” he explained. He says teams are looking at how they manage fire. They even use it as a tool through prescribed burns. This subsequently decreases the amount of underbrush and other material that feeds wildfires near communities.

“It’s not sustainable to put all the fires out. Some areas need fire so there’s less fuel, and when they do burn, it’s not so intense that we can’t put it out.”

Will hopes to combine this practical, hands-on experience with his master’s degree to build a future career. He says, “The cool thing about MIPM is that it exposes you to so many different realms. I haven’t decided which direction to go, but I want to use my knowledge of fire in some capacity along with what I’ve gotten from MIPM in planning.”


> To learn more about the Masters in Infrastructure Planning and Management Program (MIPM) program, visit the MIPM website.

LCY Bellevue Civic Center Project Wraps Up

Master of Urban Planning (MUP) Studios – Livable City Year, Bellevue

Urban planning studio students at Bellevue City Hall following their final presentation. Instructor Branden Born is second from left. Photo by Teri Thomson Randall.

Recently, students of the LCY Bellevue Civic Center Vision Development studio released their final report. Led by Professor Branden Born, these planning students joined nearly 300 of their fellow classmates across UW during the 2018-19 academic year. Together they collaborated with City of Bellevue staff on various projects. Ultimately, the goal of this collaboration was to develop ideas that could help advance the City Council Vision document. Subsequently, many projects focused specifically around livability and sustainability.

Civic Center Vision Development Studio

This planning studio explicitly focused on exploring and refining concepts for a connected Civic Center. The site of the proposed Civic Center is centrally located. Its adjacent to Bellevue City Hall, the new East Link light rail station, and the Meydenbauer Center. Most importantly, the new Civic Center would function as a hub of community activity in Bellevue. Additionally, it would create a place of grounding and community connection in a space that presently lacks these qualities. Generally speaking, Bellevue’s downtown core was not built to correspond to human scale. One key goal of this studio was to create a public space created specifically to welcome people to Bellevue.

To begin with, students developed an analysis of the site. Next, they investigated case studies from around the world. Finally, they created different design alternatives to present to the City. The three student teams developed their designs with attention to one of three different core values:

  • The first team focused on “Intimacy” and applied a green infrastructure lens
  • Team two created a “Civic Home” with a focus on housing
  • The third team developed a “Cultural Center” that developed economic potential on the site

The Final Report

In conclusion, the comprehensive report includes the student’s findings, and ultimately key recommendations for developing the site. These recommendations by and large propose innovative ways to fully integrated the Civic Center into the fabric of Bellevue’s downtown core. Ultimately, this plan will be used by the City to help generate new ideas and spark innovation around the possible future for this site..



> To learn more about the Master of Urban Planning (MUP) program, visit the website here.

> To learn more about the Livable City Year (LCY) program, visit the LCY website.

Related Articles
The Department of Urban Design & Planning Newsletter | 2018-2019 Reflections
“Making Local Impact”, June 2019

Livable City Year Blog
“Livable City Year concludes partnership with City of Bellevue”, February 7, 2020