Top planning scholar, author returns to Texas A&M faculty

Berke, who founded Texas A&M's Hazard Reduction and Recovery Center, is an Outstanding Alumnus of the College of Architecture.

Philip Berke ‘81, widely regarded as one of the nation’s top land use planning scholars, is returning to Texas A&M in 2014 to rejoin the urban planning faculty and help lead the university’s Institute for Sustainable Coastal Communities.

“As the author of one of the most-widely used textbooks in the country, Urban Land Use Planning, Berke is extremely well-known to planning academics, students, and practitioners,” said Shannon Van Zandt, director of Texas A&M’s Master of Urban Planning program. “His return significantly raises the university’s profile and promises to attract top graduate students interested in land use, environmental, and disaster planning from around the world.”

Through his research findings, Berke, an urban planning faculty member at Texas A&M from 1987-1994, has revealed how cities’ environmental, social, and economic systems are affected by land use decisions. He has made major contributions in natural hazard mitigation, urban land use planning, growth management, sustainable development and environmental planning and policy, said David Godschalk, professor emeritus of city and regional planning at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, where Berke taught from 1995-2013.

“He is a top international scholar on coastal environmental planning who will bring vast experience and leadership to the Institute for Sustainable Coastal Communities,” said Sam Brody, director of the ISCC, a joint initiative between Texas A&M’s College of Architecture and Texas A&M University at Galveston. Berke will lead the college’s efforts in the institute, which generates sustainable, research-based solutions to coastal development problems in Texas and throughout the world.

Since 2008, Berke served as principal investigator or co-principal investigator on research projects with funding from the National Science Foundation, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Homeland Security totaling more than $19 million.

Berke’s return is a result of the Chancellor’s Research Initiative, created to attract top-notch faculty to Texas A&M University and Prairie View A&M University.

“We have some of the best universities in the country and we want to attract exceptional faculty members who will have a transformative impact upon the academic and research missions of Texas A&M and Prairie View A&M,” said John Sharp, chancellor of The Texas A&M University System.

Berke will also lead a multidisciplinary initiative bringing together sustainability and resilience research and best practices from research centers at the College of Architecture and throughout the university.

An outstanding alumnus of the College of Architecture who earned a Ph.D. in Urban and Regional Sciences in 1981, Berke founded Texas A&M’s Hazard Reduction & Recovery Center in 1988 and served as its first interim director.

He continued his high level of scholarship at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill beginning in 1995, where he served on the urban planning faculty and director of the university’s Center of Sustainable Community Design and deputy director of the Institute for the Environment. 

posted November 26, 2013