The University of Utah
College of Architecture + Planning


Our research is about human-environment relationships and how interactions between ecological, human, and built systems shape the places in which we live. We study how human habitat is evolving as we become an urbanized species with a population of over 7.5 billion, and we explore how we can proactively design spaces and systems to improve social wellbeing, ecological and economic health, and community resilience. The CEPD’s work primarily aligns with three interrelated themes:


We plan and design in ways that work with, rather than against, nature. Through integrating ecological science with planning and design, we use both scientific methods and creative processes to generate built and social environments that mimic or restore ecological systems, improve human wellbeing, and advance our understanding of urban ecology and complex systems.

We investigate how water shapes the relationship between people and place in arid environments; we seek innovative solutions for improving water quality and methods for advancing sustainable use. We challenge our partners and global community to think of water as a critical resource for human, economic, and ecological systems.

We facilitate decision-making in the midst of complexity researching strategies and engaging communities on ways to face challenges driven by growing populations, evolving ecologies, and a changing climate. We want to foster both the collaborative dialogue and the ecological literacy necessary for communities to think systematically and adapt effectively over the long-term.