Bonnie Johnson, AICP, PhD

Director, Urban Planning Program
Associate Professor
Primary office:
Snow Hall
University of Kansas
1460 Jayhawk Blvd
Lawrence, KS


Bonnie J. Johnson, PhD, AICP is Associate Professor in the University of Kansas’ Urban Planning Program. She teaches planning history and theory, land use, and politics and planning courses. Research interests include: civic bureaucracy, staff reports, television and citizen participation, and planners working with city managers. Before returning to school for her doctorate, Johnson was a practicing city planner for eight years. While at the City of Liberty, Missouri, she was project manager for Liberty’s Blueprint for Liberty: Land Use Plan which was awarded the American Planning Association’s (APA) “Outstanding Planning Award” for the best plan in the country.  She is currently the Professional Development Officer for the Kansas Chapter of APA and her work on staff reports can be found in APA’s Planning magazine and Signature Series Webinar – Preparing for Planning Commission Meetings.

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


Ph.D.Political ScienceUniversity of Kansas

M.U.P.Urban PlanningUniversity of Kansas

M.A.Political ScienceUniversity of Kansas

B.A.Latin American StudiesUniversity of Kansas

B.A.Political ScienceUniversity of Kansas


My approach to teaching and to the profession of city planning can be summed up with a quote from Tony Hiss about Baltimore’s Peabody Library reading room, of which he writes: “knowledge seems so abundantly available that you feel almost the same kind of gratitude you feel when you stoop to drink from a public fountain: The city doesn’t want me to go thirsty.” I want to instill in my students, who are future city planners, the commitment to caring about citizens and creating cities which provide for the needs of citizens as typified by the well-placed public drinking fountain. In my classes, I do not want my students “to go thirsty.”

Teaching Interests

  • City planning and politics
  • Sustainability
  • Land Use
  • Site Planning
  • History of planning
  • Theory of planning
  • Planning processes


My search for effective planning practices results in research projects drawing from my own experiences as a practicing planner and my educational background in the related fields of urban planning, political science, and public administration. All three fields seek to understand how elected officials, public servants, and citizens interact with each other, governmental structures, and bureaucratic agencies to pursue the common good. I am interested in the impact of institutions (elections, types of city government, organizations), culture (organizational cultures, professional cultures, social capital, and civic capital), and individuals (city planners, public administrators, elected officials, citizens) on public policy. This agenda results in research on civic bureaucracy, planning practice, media and planning, and public service.​

Research Interests

  • Civic bureaucracy
  • Planning practice
  • Media and planning
  • Public service
  • Competitive elections
  • Sustainability

Selected Publications

Johnson, B.J. (2018). Planners as Leaders: Finding Their Comfort Zone. International Journal of Public Leadership, 14(3), 155-178.

Johnson, B. J., Peck, K., & Preston, S. (in press). City Managers have Ethics too? Comparing Planning and City Management Codes of Ethics. Journal of the American Planning Association.

Johnson, B. J. (2017). The Better Staff Report. Planning83(3).

Johnson, B. J., & Gore, N. (2016). What do the Professions “Profess”? Comparing Architecture and Planning Codes of Ethics . Architectural Science Review59(6). DOI:10.1080/00038628.2016.1194255

Johnson, B. J., & Lyles, W. (2016). The Unexamined Staff Report: Results From an Evaluation of a National Sample. Journal of the American Planning Association82(1), 22-36. DOI:10.1080/01944363.2015.1109471

McClure, K., & Johnson, B. J. (2015). Housing Programs Fail to Deliver on Neighborhood Quality, Reexamined. Housing Policy Debate25(3), 463-496. DOI:10.1080/10511482.2014.944201

Johnson, B. J., & Halegoua, G. R. (2015). Can Social Media Save a Neighborhood Organization? Planning Practice & Research30(3), 248-269.

Johnson, B. J. (2014). Codes of Ethics, Public Values, and What Public Servants Offer the Bureaucratic Compact. International Journal of Organization Theory and Behavior17(4), 459-497.

Johnson, B. J., & Halegoua, G. R. (2014). Potential and Challenges for Social Media in the Neighborhood Context. Journal of Urban Technology21(4), 51-75. DOI:10.1080/10630732.2014.971528

Johnson, B. J., & Pierce, J. C. (2014). Is County Level of Social, Creative, and Human Capital Associated with Winning Humanities Grants in Kansas? Nonprofit Management & Leadership24(4), 503-520. DOI:10.1002/nml.21103

Pierce, J. C., Johnson, B. J., & White, S. S. (2013). Social, Creative, Human, and Political Capital Effects on Sustainability Initiatives in Kansas Counties: A Research Note. Community Development44(2), 188-199. DOI:10.1080/15575330.2012.720581

Johnson, B. J., Goerdel, H. T., Lovrich Jr., N. P., & Pierce, J. C. (2013). Social Capital and Emergency Management Planning: A Test of Community Context Effects on Formal and Informal Collaboration. American Review of Public AdministrationDOI:10.1177/0275074013504127

Johnson, B. J. (2012). TV, Boon or Bane? Participation and a Televised Town Meeting. Planning Theory & Practice13(2), 275-293. DOI:10.1080/14649357.2012.649959

Johnson, B. J. (2012). Public Service Motivation and the Technical, Political, and Facilitator Roles of City Planners. International Journal of Public Administration35(1), 30-45. DOI:10.1080/01900692.2011.635454

Johnson, B. J., & Graves, M. (2011). Keeping It Real: What Planning Can Learn from Reality TV. Journal of the American Planning Association77(3), 214-231. DOI:10.1080/01944363.2011.592128

Johnson, B. J. (2011). Creating Civic Bureaucrats. International Public Management Journal14(2), 157-192. DOI:10.1080/10967494.2011.588887

Johnson, B. J., & Crum-Cano, B. D. (2011). Glass Walls in Urban Planning: An Examination of Policy Type and Gender Segregation within a Profession. Review of Public Personnel Administration31(4), 386-409. DOI:10.1177/0734371X11408702

Johnson, B. J., & White, S. S. (2010). Promoting Sustainability through Transportation Infrastructure? Innovation and Inertia in the Kansas City Metropolitan Area. Journal of Urban Planning and Development136(4), 303-313. DOI:10.1061/(ASCE)UP.1943-5444.0000027

Johnson, B. J. (2010). City Planners and Public Service Motivation. Planning Practice & Research25(5), 563-586. DOI:10.1080/02697459.2010.522854

Johnson, B. J. (2009). Site Planning for Planners: The View from the Other Side. Journal for Education in the Built Environment4(1), 31-56. DOI:10.11120/jebe.2009.04010031

Johnson, B. J. (2005). Identities of Competitive States in U.S. Presidential Elections: Electoral College Bias or Candidate-Centered Politics? Publius: The Journal of Federalism35(2), 337-355. DOI:10.1093/publius/pji017

Selected Presentations

Halegoua, G. R and Johnson, B. J. (2018). The Meaning of ‘Neighbor’ in the Neighborhood: Rethinking Neighborhoods as Service-oriented Communities. Presented at the Annual Meeting of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning, Buffalo, NY.

Johnson, Bonnie J., Lyles, Ward, and Hobbick, Cade. (2018) "Let’s Talk about Privilege," Planning Webcast Series Sponsored by American Planning Association Chapter & Divisions.

Selected Awards & Honors

"Featured Faculty" on the website for the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning 

Architectural Science Review

"Featured Paper" in the Architectural Science Review Newsletter


Recognition of Teaching Excellence - University of Kansas' Celebration of Teaching Award (Center for Teaching Excellence)

Best Use of Technology for a University Urban and Regional Planning Program, Technology Division of the American Planning Association, Digital Storytelling as Learning and Communication Tool

Outstanding Planning Award for a Plan
American Planning Association, Liberty, MO: Blueprint for Liberty Land Use Plan

Excellence in Planning Award
American Planning Association, Missouri Chapter, Liberty, MO: City of Liberty’s Wireless Communication Facilities Plan and Ordinance

Phi Kappa Phi

Phi Beta Kappa