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Planning for Healthy and Resilient Communities

The built and natural environments are foundational to health and wellbeing. The design of the built environment and the conservation of the natural environment affect the provision of the basic elements of life (water, food, air) as well as higher order needs (mental health, physical activity) and social outcomes such as social capital and social justice.

Resilience scholarship contributes a framework for examining how complex and dynamic social-ecological systems respond to perturbations and crises. This framework provides insights into how communities can adapt to changing internal and external conditions, transform from undesirable system states to more desirable ones, and engage in processes that promote social learning in the face of uncertainty.

In DURP, research to date has brought together community health and resilience in the face of social and ecological disturbances such as wildland fire, climate change, sea-level rise, degraded natural landscapes, and the impacts on global networks affected by these and other challenges. Currently, faculty are exploring

  • how coastal communities can engage in adaptation planning in the face of climate change to address hazards and health impacts,
  • how developing community-based food systems can enhance the resilience and health of cities,
  • ways that communities can engage in social learning to enhance their capacities to address wildland fire management,
  • how the natural landscape and green infrastructure support ecosystem services and health both in the US and communities in southern Africa, and
  • what barriers and opportunities exist in seeking to establish more resilient systems in the face of dynamic global change.

DURP Faculty with Research Interests in Healthy and Resilient Communities

Will Bulter
Chris Coutts
Tisha Holmes

DURP Doctoral Students with Interests in Healthy and Resilient Communities

Recent Doctoral Graduates

Crystal Taylor

    Taylor, C. & Coutts, C. (2018). Greenways as safe routes to school in a Latino community in East Los Angeles. Cities & Health., 3(1-2), 141-157


Shaleen Miller

    Miller, S. & Coutts, C. (2018). A multiple case study of local & creative financing of bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure. Case Studies on Transport Policy, 6(2), 257-264.

    Miller, S. (2019). Park Access & Equity in a Segregated, Southern U.S. City: A Case Study of Tallahassee, Fl. Environmental Justice. DOI: 10.1089/env.2018.00261

    Miller, S. (in press). Green infrastructure post-disaster: The need to close the gap with recovery for greater resilience. Journal of the American Planning Assocition.

    Miller, S. (in press). Greenspace volunteering post-disaster: Exploration of themes in motivation, barriers, and benefits from post-hurricane park and garden volunteers. Journal of Environmental Planning and Management.

Doctoral Students

Zechariah Lange

Anthony Milordis

Patrice Williams

    Coutts, C., Basmajian, C., Sehee, J., Kelty, S. & Williams, P.C. (2018). Natural burial as a land conservation tool in the US. Landscape and Urban Planning, 178, 130-143.

    Coutts, C. & Williams, P. Healthy behavioral choices and the built environment. In Making Healthy Places: Designing and Building for Health, Well-Being, and Sustainability. Island Press.

Selected Recent Research Projects

Climate Justice and Displacement from Coastal Hazards

PIs: Tisha Holmes, April Jackson, and William Butler

Students: Anthony Milordis (PhD), Ben Nauselius (MSP), Don Arellano (MSP)

Funding: Leroy Collins Institute

This research examines the distribution of sea level rise risks among lower income communities and how Florida’s communities are preparing for displacement from coastal inundation associated with sea level rise. This project is a multi-staged research project to explore how coastal communities are planning for and developing policies to address the disproportionate impacts that marginalized communities are likely to experience in the face of sea level rise.

Planning for Climate Change and Sea Level Rise Adaptation

PIs: Tisha Holmes and William Butler

Students: numerous UROP students,Michael Schilling (MSP), Anthony Milordis, Zechariah Lange, Ben Naselius, Don Arellano

Funding: FL Department of Environmental Protection

Many climate change adaptation strategies for sea level rise and coastal hazards involve changes to land use planning policies and investments in capital improvements projects. Municipalities face numerous barriers for planning and implementing climate change adaptation projects. This project examines multiple different regional governance approaches to climate change adaptation in coastal areas in Florida to determine what strategies at the regional scale can help overcome barriers to adaptation planning at the local scale.

Health and Climate Change Adaptation Planning

Co-PIs: Tisha Holmes, Chris Uejio (FSU Geography)

Post-doc: Ava Holt

Students: Melanie Marques (MSP), Allison Christie (MSP), Bridget Callea (MSP), Patrice Williams

Funding: Center for Disease Control and Prevention

Climate change will have multiple and significant impacts on human health and public health departments are working to build capacity to respond to these threats. This project supports the administration of the Building Resilience Against Climate Effects (BRACE) Program in Florida. Florida BRACE provides technical assistance and resources to county health departments for planning, implementation and evaluation of interventions which reduce the public health risks associated with a changing climate. Website

Planning for Sea Level Rise Adaptation

Co-PIs: Robert Deyle (emeritus), William Butler and Lindsay Stevens (former Planner in Residence)

Students: Cassidy Mutnansky

Funding: FL Department of Economic Opportunity, Community Resilience Initiative

This project provided guidance to local planners for defining appropriate time horizons and review time frames for sea level rise adaptation policies and strategies and assessed sea level rise planning tools and strategies available and in use in Florida. FPDL Report FPDL Report

Supporting the Critical Role of Nature in the Sustainable Development of Malawi

PI: Chris Coutts

Funding: US Fulbright Scholar grant

The research involves community members in Karonga, Malawi photographing the lands and natural elements around their villages that they perceive as affecting the provision of ecosystem services essential to their health and livelihood. Examples of these services are likely to include air, water, food, fiber, medicine, and woody products for construction and cooking fuel, but the Photovoice exercise is also designed to reveal other physical, mental, and potentially emotional and spiritual services not currently accounted for in the scientific literature.

Differential Vulnerability to Tornado Impacts in Southeast USA

PIs: Tisha Holmes, John Mathias (FSU Social Work), Tyler McCreary (FSU Geography), Jim Elsner (FSU Geography)

Students: Claudia Camillus, Allison Keeling (UROP)

Funding: FSU Office of Proposal Development and Research Collaborative Seed Grant

This project examines household impacts of and recovery efforts from an unusually devastating tornado (EDT) event in rural Alabama. The research examines underlying factors that influenced the high loss life in a sparsely populated area. The project also examines the collaborative roles non-state actors played in overcoming institutional failures during the emergency response and recovery planning processes.

Building Community Disaster Resilience to Weather Hazards

PI: Tisha Holmes

Students: Bridget Callea (MSP), Abigail Sanders (MSP/MPA)

This project examines the impacts, coping strategies and recovery responses to extreme weather events in the Turtle Region of Trinidad & Tobago. The project examines the socio-ecological exposures, community perspectives on the risks faced, institutional responses to reduce risk and opportunities to develop regional disaster response networks to build community resilience.