Recent Projects by MUEP Students

Curriculum Improvement in Education for Sustainable Development: Measuring Learning Outcomes in an Introductory Urban Planning Course

By Chad Frederick
Master of Urban and Environmental Planning Thesis - June 2012
Committee Chair: Professor David Pijawka
Committee Members: Professors Katherine Crewe and Christopher Boone

Education for sustainable development (ESD) is an academic goal for many courses in higher learning. ESD encompasses a specific range of learning outcomes, competencies, skills and literacies that include and exceed the acquisition of content knowledge. Methods and case studies for measuring learning outcomes in ESD is absent from the literature. This case study of an undergraduate course in urban sustainability examines the processes, curriculum, pedagogies, and methods to explore whether or not learning outcomes in education for sustainable development are being reached. Observations of the course, and the statistical analysis of student surveys from course evaluations, are explored to help identify the relationships between learning outcomes in ESD and the processes of learning and teaching in the case study. Recommendations are made for applying the lessons of the case study to other courses, and for continuing further research in this area.

Note: Chad is currently pursuing doctoral studies at the University of Louisville, supported by a University Fellowship. He may be reached at


Community Park Master Plan completed for Eagar, Arizona

By Eileen Bow
Master of Urban and Environmental Planning Professional Project - December 2011
Committee Chair: Professor Jay Stein
Graduate Committee Members: Professor David Pijawka, Eagar Mayor Kim Holaway

3-D visual of park, part of Eileen Bow's workPark planning is essential to every community as planners strive to create livable and active communities for their citizens. Parks serve many purposes such as spaces for active recreation, natural education, and relaxation, as well as safe thoroughfares for non-motorized commuters. In August 2010, Eileen Bow responded to a request from the town of Eagar, Arizona for a planning student to assist with designing an eight-acre park for the city. She began her work by researching parks in other communities. Using this foundation, she attended community meetings, focus groups, and presentations, and carried out survey research to gather input from citizens of Eagar. High school students were key stakeholders in the planning process since the proposed park was located near their school. As a final product, Eileen wrote a report that reviewed the park planning process and included a large appendix with sections pertaining directly to the built aspects of the park. A 3-D visual of the park was created in Google SketchUp Pro that accompanied the written plan. Main attractions in the park included a BMX track, amphitheater, splash pad, natural playground, wide pathways, and active recreation area with basketball courts, pickleball courts, and volleyball courts.

The Eagar Town Council voted on adopting The Ramsey Park North Master Plan on January 17th, 2012 by a unanimous vote of 6-0.  For more information about the Eagar Park project, contact Eileen Bow at


ASU downtown Phoenix campus: Sustainability impact assessment

By Nathan Wright
Master of Urban and Environmental Planning Professional Project - December 2011
Graduate Committee Chair: Professor David Pijawka

In 2004 the downtown Phoenix ASU campus began as a unique partnership between ASU and the City of Phoenix. Under the leadership of Mayor Gordon and President Crow, sustainability was a top priority as Arizona’s first urban campus was developed. This professional project is a “Sustainability Impact Assessment”. It is an in-depth analysis of urban sustainability related to the sustainability benefits of the downtown Phoenix campus. This assessment focuses on three aspects of the campus: environment, social well-being and economic impacts. These three are known domains and can serve as the framework for a comprehensive sustainability study. This assessment seeks to measure how the campus has affected downtown Phoenix’s carbon footprint, urban heat island effect, walkability, community resilience, employment and sales tax. In conclusion LEED ND which “best lends itself to campuses that are expanding or undergoing major redevelopment” is used as a framework to measure how the City of Phoenix and ASU did in the development of the ASU downtown Phoenix campus.

For more information about the impact assessment, contact Nathan Wright at


Online Guide to LEED for Neighborhood Development

By Stephen A. Zank III
Master of Urban and Environmental Planning Professional Project - May 2011
Graduate Committee Chair: Professor Emily Talen

Guide to LEED-ND (website)

As the premier certification program for sustainable development at the neighborhood level, LEED-ND encourages the implementation of principles from New Urbanism, Smart Growth, and Green Building practices to design better communities. Focusing on the neighborhood scale ensures better design for walkability and comfort for the pedestrian. This guide was developed to provide a comprehensive overview of each of the credit areas and provide the reader with the information needed to better understand the purposes and objectives of LEED-ND.

Note: For more information about this online guide or to collaborate with ongoing revisions and updates, Stephen Zank can be reached at 


Spatial Equity of Close-to-home parks: Phoenix Mesa urbanized area

By Asiya Natekal
Master of Urban and Environmental Planning Thesis - May 2010
Graduate Committeee Chair: Professor Francisco Lara Valencia

Illustrated project summary (pdf)

Environmental justice studies have traditionally focused on the unequal distribution of environmental disamenities and its implications for quality of life of racial minorities and the poor. However, recent research has started to consider inequity in the distribution of amenities such as urban parks, which provide a multitude of benefits to city residents. There is evidence that minorities and lower socio-economic status groups in U.S. cities are more likely to have less access to parks. This study evaluated whether the Phoenix area is equitable with respect to the distribution of close-to-home parks. This research highlights existing patterns of accessibility to parks among minority, children, elderly and low-income residents. A Geographic Information Systems (GIS) was used to compute spatial statistics between socio-economic attributes obtained at the census block group level and access to public parks. The results indicate inequity with respect to age at the neighborhood and local level but no pattern of inequity with respect to race. However, at the neighborhood level, the park acreage enjoyed by whites alone is higher than by non-whites. Patterns of inequity were found with respect to income at the local level. The tools used in this study enable planners to measure accessibility, identify unequal distribution patterns and make informed decisions for the equitable implementation of urban park policies in cities.

Note: Asiya commenced doctoral studies in Fall 2011, in the Urban and Regional Planning program at the University of California, Irvine. She can be reached at


Improved Pedestrian Thermal Comfort Through Urban Design

By Jennifer Love
Master of Urban and Environmental Planning Professional Project - May 2009
Graduate Committeee Chair: Professor David Pijawka

Illustrated project summary (pdf)

Open space in urban environments, be it a formal park, an informal gathering place or inviting streetscape, contributes to a sense of community and can encourage pedestrian activity. The challenge to creating inviting open spaces in hot, arid climates such as Phoenix is mitigating extreme summer temperatures to allow year-round pedestrian and outdoor activity. In this study, a microscale climate analysis was conducted using the software ENVI-met to examine the effects of various urban design elements on thermal comfort with the goal of creating open spaces that are usable year round. Specifically, this project develops a set of site scenarios with various physical, design, and materials differences, and applies the ENVI-met program to each scenario to analyze ambient site temperature.

Note: Jennifer is now a Senior Planner with Parsons Brinckerhoff, where she works on a variety of transportation planning and urban design projects throughout the western United States. She can be reached at for additional project inquiries.


Reshaping Parking Strategies in a Growing, Landlocked City: The Case of Tempe, Arizona

By Derek Partridge
Master of Urban and Environmental Planning Professional Project - June 2009
Graduate Committeee Chair: Assistant Professor Aaron Golub

Illustrated project summary (pdf)

Due to the historic dominant force of the automobile, our cities and towns have spread across vast landscapes requiring significant parking facilities to support the mobility of the car. The costs associated with parking have been well hidden because minimum parking is generally required by zoning ordinances, creating a situation of abundance. The land consumption, construction and operation of parking facilities require significant resources at the expense of the environment, quality of life and economy. Tempe is a landlocked urban college city with an area of approximately 42 square miles in the Phoenix Metropolitan Area. As the city continues to grow in an increasingly dense setting, the automobile will have a less dominant force and mobility will decrease as a result. Reducing parking requirements and enhancing alternative modes of transportation to destinations significantly increases accessibility, promoting infill development, pedestrian oriented design and more human scale spaces. This report explores the strategies, economics, politics and observations related to parking which is applied to potential changes in the way Tempe approaches parking in its entirety.

Note: Derek is currently a Planner for the City of Tempe Development Services Department. In that position, he works on a variety of planning tasks, including use permits, variances, development review, final plats and many others. He can be reached at