William Butler


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, food systems planning, collaborative governance, 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. Since my arrival in Florida, I have been examining planning responses to climate adaptation in the face of sea level rise. 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

Selected Publications

Planning for Climate Change

Melix, B., Jackson, A., Butler, W. H., Holmes, T. T., & Uejio, C. (2022). Locating Neighborhood Displacement Risks to Climate Gentrification Pressures in Three Coastal Counties in Florida. Professional Geographer. Manuscript submitted for publication.

Holmes, T. T., & Butler, W. H. (2021). Implementing a Mandate to Plan for Sea Level Rise: Top-down, Bottom-up, and Middle-out Actions in the Tampa Bay Region. Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, 64(12), 2214-2232.

Butler, W. H., Holmes, T. T., & Lange, Z. (2021). Mandated planning for climate change: Responding to the Peril of Flood Act for sea level rise adaptation in Florida. Journal of the American Planning Association, 87(3), 370-382.

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.

Collaborative Forest Management

Coleman, K., Butler, W. H., Stern, M., & Beck, S. (2021). “They’re Constantly Cycling Through”: Lessons about Turnover and Collaborative Forest Planning. Journal of Forestry, 119(1), 1-12.

Butler, W., & Schultz, C. (Eds.). (2019). Collaborative Forest Restoration: Challenges and Opportunities of Landscape-Scale Forest Management. Routledge Earthscan. https://www.routledge.com/A-New-Era-for-Collaborative-Forest-Management-Policy-and-Practice-insights/Butler-Schultz/p/book/9781138491274

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.

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.
Butler, W. H. (2013). Collaboration at Arm’s Length?: Navigating Agency Engagement in Landscape-Scale Ecological Restoration Collaboratives. Journal of Forestry, 111(6), 395-403.

Goldstein, B. E., & Butler, W. H. (2010). Expanding the Scope and Impact of Collaborative Planning: Combining Multi-stakeholder Collaboration and Communities of Practice in a Learning Network. Journal of the American Planning Association, 76(2), 238-249.

Butler, W. H., & Goldstein, B. E. (2010). The US Fire Learning Network: Springing a Rigidity Trap through Multi-scalar Collaborative Networks. Ecology and Society, 15(3), 21-34. Retrieved from http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/articles/3437.html

William Butler


Areas of Interest: Collaborative governance, Natural resources management, Environmental planning and management, Social-ecological resilience, Sustainability, Public participation and community involvement

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Curriculum Vitae