Ward Lyles, Prof. Ward Lyles, PhD, AICP

Assistant Professor
Primary office:
Snow Hall
University of Kansas
1460 Jayhawk Blvd
Lawrence, KS

Professor Lyles' interests center on interactions of humans, natural environments, and built environments, with particular attention to increasing sustainability and compassion through decision-making. His research program investigates local, collaborative efforts to reduce risks from natural hazards like hurricanes and climate change impacts like heat waves. His teaching ranges from sustainable land use planning to research methods to introductory courses in planning, all with a close eye on engaging with active learning and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). Lyles' professional experiences have included non-profit leadership, state and local policy analysis and public affairs, and local politics and civic service.


This profile can also be viewed on the Urban Planning website. >>


Engagement. All my teaching and mentoring extends from a desire to engage students. I structure my courses to engage each student with academic content, with their peers, with the experienced world beyond campus, with me as instructor, and with their own personality, values and approach to learning and action. I firmly believe – and have experienced in the classroom – that students learn more deeply through active learning in a safe, respectful environment that challenges everyone to engage socially and emotionally, as well as intellectually.

Classroom Teaching

All my courses employ active learning approaches. I emphasize concept application and evaluation, structured interactions that simulates professional settings, and student and instructor accountability. I teach one course (Quantitative Methods) strictly available to graduate students, mostly in Urban Planning, one course (Planning the American City) strictly available to undergraduates, and two courses (Sustainable Land Use Planning and Environmental Planning Techniques) primarily intended for urban planning graduates students interested in human-environment interactions. I have also taught an online course (Planning for Climate Change and Disasters) that focused on actually writing climate plans for cities in Kansas and Missouri that do not have them currently.

Teaching Interests

  • Environmental Planning
  • Land Use Planning
  • Research Methods
  • Statistics
  • Sustainable
  • Planning
  • Cities
  • Natural Hazards
  • Climate Change
  • Mitigation
  • Adaptation



Reducing long-term risks to individuals, communities, and nations from disasters and climate change is a grand challenge of the 21st century – perhaps the grand challenge facing humanity. Generating better understanding of risk-reduction planning processes and is essential for creating more sustainable and resilient communities. In my research program I aim to advance theoretical frameworks and conceptual understandings on how to develop policy and planning practices that foster better interactions between human and natural systems.

To date, my research has focused on five main areas: substantively: 1) natural hazards mitigation and 2) climate change adaptation; procedurally: 3) planning processes and implementation; and methodologically: 4) planning evaluation and 5) network analysis. In addition to its direct contributions to knowledge on risk reduction, my hazards and climate-focused research program has broader implications for other areas of environmental management and planning and policy more generally.

Research Interests

  • Environmental Planning
  • Land Use Planning
  • Research Methods
  • Statistics
  • Sustainable
  • Planning
  • Cities
  • Natural Hazards
  • Climate Change
  • Mitigation
  • Adaptation
  • Social Networks
  • Network Analysis
  • Plan Quality
  • Plan Implementation


American Institute of Certified Planners
American Planning Association
International Research Committee on Disasters (International Sociological Association)
Planning Evaluation Lab, University of British Columbia
Institute of Policy and Social Research, University of Kansas

Selected Publications

Lyles W.  Accepted.  “Using Social Network Analysis to Examine Planner Involvement in Environmentally-Oriented Planning Processes Led by Non-Planning Professions” Journal of Environmental Planning and Management

Lyles, W. and M. Stevens.  October 9, 2014 (online)  “Plan Quality Evaluation 1994-2012: Growth and Contributions, Limitations, and New Directions.” (Journal of Planning Education and Research)  DOI: 10.1177/0739456X14549752

Lyles, W., P. Berke and G. Smith.  2014.  “Do Planners Matter?  Examining Factors Driving Incorporation of Land Use Approaches into Hazard Mitigation Plans” Journal of Environmental Planning and Management 57(5): 792-811.

Lyles, W., P. Berke, and G. Smith. 2014. “A Comparison of Local Hazard Mitigation Plan Quality in Six States, USA”  Landscape and Urban Planning 122: 89-99.

Berke, P., W. Lyles, and G. Smith.  2014.  “Impacts of Federal and State Hazard Mitigation Policies on Local Land Use Policy” Journal of Planning Education and Research 34: 60-76.

Stevens, M.R., W. Lyles and P. Berke.  2014.  “Measuring and Reporting Intercoder Reliability in Plan Quality Evaluation Research.”  Journal of Planning Education and Research 34: 77-93.

Smith, G., W. Lyles, and P. Berke. 2013. “The Role of Hazard Mitigation Planning in Building Local Capacity and Commitment: A Tale of Six States” International Journal of Mass Emergencies and Disasters 31(2): 178-203.

Berke, P. and W. Lyles.  2013. “Public Risks and the Challenges to Climate Adaptation: A Proposed Framework for Planning in the Age of Uncertainty” Cityscape 15(1): 181-208

Dempwolf, C.S. and W. Lyles. 2012. “The Uses of Social Network Analysis in Planning: A Review of the Literature” Journal of Planning Literature. 27(1): 3-21.

Berke, P, G. Smith, and W. Lyles.  2012. “Planning for Resiliency: An Evaluation of State Hazard Mitigation Plans under the Disaster Mitigation Act” Natural Hazards Review 13: 139-150.

Horney, J., A. Naimi, W. Lyles, M. Simon, D. Salvesen and P. Berke.  2012. “Assessing the relationship between hazard mitigation plan quality and rural status in a cohort of 59 counties from 3 states in the Southern United States.” Challenges 3: 183-193.

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Ranked in the top 10 master of public affairs programs in the nation
—U.S. News & World Report
#1 in the nation for city management and urban policy

— U.S. News & World Report

#5 in the nation for public management

— U.S. News & World Report
Three faculty have won W.T. Kemper Fellowships for Teaching Excellence
Rosemary O’Leary is KU’s Edwin O. Stene Distinguished Professor of Public Administration
Four MPA graduates have been elected president of the International City/County Management Association (ICMA)
Founder of the Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory (JPART)
Four faculty are National Academy of Public Administration Fellows
Bob Kipp, vice president of Hallmark Cards, was a 2012 recipient of the CLAS Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award
Kathleen Sebelius, U.S. secretary of health and human services, was a 2009 recipient of the CLAS Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award
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