Associate Professor & MSP Program Director
Areas of Interest: Collaborative governance, Natural resources management, Environmental planning and management, Social-ecological resilience, Sustainability, Public participation and community involvement
I came to planning almost by accident as I stumbled upon the Urban Affairs and Planning program at Virginia Tech. The future orientation of the field draws me in. My two children further inspire me to push for my aspirations of sustainability, resiliency, and justice in the face of the global challenges associated with climate change, persistent environmental degradation and growing inequalities. I have been intrigued by the question of how to move toward more effective environmental management and fill in the gaps where government, private and non-profit organizations cannot accomplish what needs to be done on their own. As a result, I have oriented my work toward improving the theory and practice of collaborative planning and management through both my teaching and research.
Research and Teaching Statement:
My teaching and research are primarily in the field of collaborative environmental planning and management. I teach courses in environmental planning and policy, natural resources management, food systems planning, collaborative governance, community involvement and public participation, and planning theory. My research explores how to enhance social-ecological resilience of human-natural systems through collaborative governance. In the realm of natural resources, I have focused on how to engage in collaborative planning and management at multiple spatial scales and levels of governance to enhance social-ecological resilience through ecological restoration. I also have explored resilience in the face of social and ecological disturbances such as climate change and sea-level rise with a particular focus on the state of Florida. Finally, I seek to identify effective ways to navigate transitions toward more locally oriented food systems and to explore how such systems contribute to community resilience.
Bachelor of Arts: Guilford College, 1996, French and Economics
Masters: Virginia Tech, 2003, Master of Urban and Regional Planning
PhD: Virginia Tech 2009, Environmental Design and Planning
Co-author of the forthcoming book in 2019:
Butler, W., & Schultz, C. (Eds.). (in press). Collaborative Forest Restoration: Challenges and Opportunities of Landscape-Scale Forest Management. Routledge Earthscan.
Most recent book chapters and journal articles:
Reddy, S., Montambault, J., Masuda, Y. J., Gneezy, A., Keenan, E., Butler, W., Fisher, J., & Asah, S. (2017). Advancing Conservation by Understanding and Influencing Human Behavior. Conservation Letters, 10 (2), 248-256.
Jacques, P., Broad, K., Butler, W., Emrich, C., Galindo, S., Knox, C., Rizzardi, K., & Ziewitz, K. (2017). Human Dimensions of Climate Adaptation. In Eric Chassignet, Jim Jones, Vasu Mishra, Gary Mitcham, & Jayantha Obeysakara (Eds.), Florida’s Climate: Changes, Variations and Impacts. Florida Climate Institute.
Butler, W., Deyle, R., & Mutnansky, C. (2016). Low-Regrets Incrementalism: Land Use Planning Adaptation to Accelerating Sea Level Rise in Florida’s Coastal Communities. Journal of Planning Education and Research, 36(3), 319-332.
Vella, K., Butler, W., Sipe, N., Chapin, T., & Murley, J. (2016). Voluntary Collaboration for Adaptive Governance: The Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact. Journal of Planning Education and Research, 36(3), 363-376.
Monroe, A., & Butler, W. H. (2016). Responding to a Policy Mandate to Collaborate: Structuring Collaboration in the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program. Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, 59 (6), 1054-1072.
Butler, W., Monroe, A., & McCaffrey, S. (2015). Collaborative Implementation for Ecological Restoration on US Public Lands: Implications for Legal Context, Accountability and Adaptive Management. Environmental Management, 55 (3), 564-577.
Goldstein, B. E., Wessells, A. T., Lejano, R. P., & Butler, W. H. (2015). Narrating Resilience: Transforming Cities through Collaborative Storytelling. Urban Studies, 52 (7), 1285-1303.