West Chester University


Sustainability Research: Geography & Planning

Department of Geography & Planning

To learn more about the language of implementing sustainability in business, go to the Dictionary of Sustainability Management. Here you can find triple bottom line and make sure you don't confuse it with the triple top line. Learn about the Kyoto Protocol or the sustainability helix.

The Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission is dedicated to uniting the region's elected officials, planning professionals and the public with a common vision of making a great region even greater. Shaping the way we live, work and play, DVRPC builds consensus on improving transportation, promoting smart growth, protecting the environment and enhancing the economy. They serve nine counties: Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia in Pennsylvania; and Burlington, Camden, Gloucester and Mercer in New Jersey. DVRPC is the federally designated Metropolitan Planning Organization for the Greater Philadelphia Region.

Research at WCU

Kristen Crossney
My primary research interest lies in the relationship between housing and mortgage opportunities in the urban landscape that consists of two main lines of inquiry: the origins of the modern day mortgage; and predatory mortgage lending. Many of today's mortgage market failures are extensions of the early mortgage market, as well as the unintended consequences of regulation that sought to minimize these issues. I am interested in how access to capital affects both the social and economic opportunities for individuals, as well as the built environment. While a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the National Center for Neighborhood and Brownfields Redevelopment, I participated in the development of training modules for community-based organizations working in low-income areas to become more involved and informed about the redevelopment of brownfields.

With regards to sustainability and environmental issues, I have publications addressing neighborhood quality, resident perceptions and environmental policy. My relevant publications are:

  • Crossney, Kristen B, Karen Lowrie, Hank Mayer, and Michael Greenberg. 2007. From the Ground Up: Growing Our Capacity for Brownfield Redevelopment. New Jersey Municipalities 84 (9): 64-5.
  • Greenberg, Michael and Kristen B. Crossney. 2007. Perceived Neighborhood Quality in the United States: Measuring Outdoor, Housing and Jurisdictional Influences. Socio-Economic Planning Sciences 41(3):181-194.
  • Greenberg, Michael and Kristen B. Crossney. 2006. The Changing Face of Public Concern about Pollution: A Case Study of New Jersey. The Environmentalist 26:255-268.

Joy A. Fritschle
My research interests are in biogeography and environmental conservation, specifically in historical ecology and restoration. My on-going research involves reconstructing past landscapes using historical vegetation surveys and GIS analysis to facilitate ecological restoration efforts. In addition, I am collaboratively working with WCU faculty and students in Biology and Geography & Planning investigating the carbon stock and energy benefits of trees on North Campus (the Green Legacy Project) and in West Chester borough parks. I am a member of the WCU Environmental Council, the WCU Green Roof Feasibility Study Working Group, and the Agriculture & Forestry subcommittee of the Chester County Greenhouse Gas Reduction Task Force.

Relevant Publications

  • Fritschle, Joy. 2009. Pre-EuroAmerican settlement forests in Redwood National Park, California, USA: a reconstruction using line summaries in historic land surveys. Landscape Ecology 24(6): 833-847.
  • Fritschle, Joy A. 2008. Reconstructing Historic Ecotones Using the Public Land Survey: The Lost Prairies of Redwood National Park. Annals of the Association of American Geographers 98(1):24-39.

Gary Coutu
Dr. Gary Coutu brings wide-ranging and extensive experience with Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to West Chester University. He served as a Project Scientist/Senior Systems Analyst at the Blackland Research Center for a number of watershed delineation and hydrological modeling GIS projects. His research interests include the impacts of land use change on overland flow and flooding events. Environmental GIS projects can be found at the GIS at West Chester University link under students and projects.

Dottie Ives Dewey
Dr. Dorothy (Dottie) Ives Dewey, AICP, who received her Ph.D. in Planning from the University of Pennsylvania, has over 10 years of experience as a professional planner in the southeast region of Pennsylvania. Dr. Ives Dewey has extensive experience with Municipal Planning, Community and Fiscal Impact Studies, and Land Development Planning. Dottie is active in local, state and national professional planning organizations. One of her graduate students, Daniel Fitz-Patrick, received an award for his research paper 'Conservation Design in Chester County - Assessing Preservation Outcomes' from the southeast section council of the Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Planning Association.

Matin Katirai
Dr. Katirai's research interests include using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) as a tool to evaluate the spatial patterns of urban sprawl and their impacts on emergency response time. He has also researched the impact of distance to health services on late stage diagnosis of colorectal cancer in Kentucky.

Joan M. Welch
My research interests include the role of tree canopy and forest cover in landscapes, and the processes that influence landscape change. Dr. Welch has published research on the spatial patterns of urban forest characteristics in Boston, impacts of deer (Odocoileus virginianus) browse on regional forests, and landscape fragmentation and homogenization in the Pre-Pyrenees of Catalunya. Recently, she has worked on the use of prescribed fire in controlling invasive understory plants in a woodlands in Chester County's Hibernia Park, and on the development of a GIS database of trees on WCU's north campus to evaluate using CityGREEN and i-Tree software tools for the environmental benefits the trees provide.


  • Maurice, Keith, Joan Welch, Christopher Brown, and Roger Latham. 2004. "Pocono Mesic Till Barrens in Retreat: Topography, Fire and Forest Contagion Effects." Landscape Ecology 19(6): 603-620.
  • Vila i Subiros, Josep and Joan M. Welch. 2001. "La Homogeneizacion Paisajistica de los Valles de Hortmoier y Sant Aniol: Caracterizacion y Evaluacion de los Cambios Ambientales en el Periodo 1957-1979-1996 con Patch Analyst." (Landscape Homogenization in the Hortmoier and Sant Aniol Valleys: Characterization and Evaluation of Environmental Changes from 1975-1970-1996 with Patch Analyst.) Actas del XVII Congreso de Geografos Espanoles, Oviedo, Spain: Universidad de Oviedo, ISBN 84-9704-037-6, pp. 227-230.
  • Pinto, Josep, Josep Vila and Joan M. Welch. 1997. "Analisis de la Fragmentacion de los Espacios Naturales en el Sector Sur del Area Urbana de Girona." (Analysis of Fragmentation of Open Space South of the Girona Urban Area.) Dinamica Litoral-Interior Actas XV Congreso de Geografos Espanoles. Volume II. Cursos e Congresos de Universidad de Santiago de Compostela No. 107: 1099-1108.
  • Arnold, Jacquelyn and Joan M. Welch. 1996. Deer Browse in the Interior Forest of Warwick County Park. Middle States Geographer 29:139-146.
  • Pomerantz, Joanne, and Joan M. Welch. 1996. "Utilization of Woody Browse by White-Tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus) in Valley Forge National Historical Park." The Pennsylvania Geographer 59(2): 1-11.
  • Solecki, William D. and Joan M. Welch. 1995. "Urban Parks: Green Space or Green Walls?" Landscape and Urban Planning 32: 93-106.
  • Welch, Joan M. 1994. "Street and Park Trees of Boston: A Comparison of Urban Forest Structure." Landscape and Urban Planning 29: 131-143.


  • Green Legacy - West Chester University Trees. West Chester University New Funding Request. Joan Welch, Win Fairchild, Gary Coutu, Joy Fritschle, Ed Bruno and Gerry Hertel. $13,631. May 2008-May 2009.
  • Integrating Sustainability into the Curriuclum. West Chester University Pedagogy for Engagement Grant. $2,500. Paul Morgan, Joan Welch, Environmental Council. July 2007-July 2008.
  • Melding Research with Environmental Education: Stream Ecology and Restoration. Pennsylvania Sea Grant $10,000. Principal Investigator Win Fairchild, Co-Collaborators Tim Lutz and Joan Welch. June 2005-February 2006.
  • Environmental Change, Homogenization and Fragmentation Impacts on Landscapes of Catalunya. West Chester University Faculty Professional Development Council Grant May 2000-May 2001.
  • Earth System Science Education (ESSE) Program participant. September 1995-1999. Four-year multidisciplinary grant funded through NASA's Universities Space Research Association (USRA) to support development and teaching of two multidisciplinary, Earth System Science Education courses at West Chester University. Using GIS as a Platform for Interdisciplinary Undergraduate Education. National Science Foundation Instrumentation, Laboratory and Instruction grant participant, 1994-98, to equip a computer laboratory, and purchase technology for use in a new introductory science course.


  • Jamie N. Anderson. 2003. Land Use and Water quality of Chester County Ponds. West Chester University M.A. Advisor.
  • Atkins, John Jr. 1992. The Relationship between Land Use and Transportation Networks: Implications for Effects on Regional development. West Chester University. M.A. Committee.
  • Chabak, Brian. 1997. Pennsylvania's Special Protection Waters Program as a De Facto Land Use Control. West Chester University M.A. Committee.
  • Elks, Susan. 2003. Easements as a Conservation Tool Around State Parks. West Chester University M.A. Advisor.
  • Fletcher, Amy. 2002. Classifying Woodlands in the Upper East Branch of the Brandywine Watershed: A Discriminate Analysis. West Chester University M.A. Advisor.
  • Frazier, Amy. 2005. A GIS Analysis of Historical Water Quality in the Valley Creek Watershed. West Chester University M.A. Committee.
  • Goldman, Abby. 1993. Sustainable Development: Planning According to Carrying Capacity. West Chester University M.A. Committee.
  • Hess, Lawrence M. 2001. Spatiotemporal Analysis of Water Well Depths, Atrazine Contamination, and Breast Cancer Incidence. West Chester University M.A. advisor
  • Hung To, Liu. 1999. Urban Forestry in China: A Biogeographical Study in Guangzhou City. University of Hong Kong. PhD External Examiner.
  • Lodge, Stacey. 2005. Relationship of Land Use, Land Cover, and Mosquito Density in Salem County, NJ. West Chester University M.A. Advisor.
  • Luque, Sandra. 1996. The Impacts of Land Use Change on the New Jersey Pine Barrens. Rutgers University. PhD External Member.
  • Maurice, Keith. 1999. Forest Contagion in the Pocono Till Barrens Reserve. West Chester University. M.A. Advisor.
  • McCrary, Keith. 2005. The Role of Riparian Buffers A study of the Chattahoochee River Basin 1985-2000. West Chester University M.A. Advisor.
  • McGeehin, Michael. 2006. Physiographic Analysis of the Witness Tree Distribution in the Pre-Settlement Forest (1730-1880) of Dauphin County, Pennsylvania. West Chester University M.A. Advisor.
  • Pepe, Gergana. 2007. Beach Nourishment Success : Study of Rehoboth and Dewey Beaches, Delaware. West Chester University M.A. Advisor.
  • Rosoff, Barbara. 2001. Deer in the headlights: Roadkill in Valley Forge National Historical Park. West Chester University M.A. Advisor.
  • Saladyga, Thomas. 2006. Native Understory and Invasive Plant Response to Fire in a Mixed-hardwood Forest, Chester County, Pennsylvania. West Chester University M.A. Advisor.
  • Sarcinello, Nancikate. 2001. A Quantitative GIS Approach to Analyzing the Locational Correspondence of Toxic Release Inventory Sites and Local Socioeconomic Characteristics of Delaware County, PA. West Chester University M.A. Committee.
  • Shumar, Mark L. 1992. Enhancement of Biological Diversity in Chester County, Pennsylvania. West Chester University. West Chester University M.A. Advisor.

The Directorate for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences (SBE) and the Directorate for Geosciences (GEO) at NSF seek to increase collaboration between the geosciences and the social and behavioral sciences by augmenting funding for interdisciplinary research related to Environment, Society, and the Economy.

These emerging and challenging problems require integration of concepts, observations, and modeling across diverse fields. GEO and SBE seek to promote interdisciplinary collaborations and integrative research that link the geosciences and the social and behavioral sciences in new and vital ways. Proposals that generate intellectual excitement in both the participating communities are sought. Also encouraged are proposals that have broad educational, societal, or infrastructure impacts that capitalize on this interdisciplinary opportunity.

Target and deadline dates for applicable programs may be found at and