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Scientists & Staff

Lynne M. Westphal

Project Leader / Research Social Scientist
People and Their Environments: Social Science Supporting Natural Resource Management and Policy, The Strategic Foresight Group
1033 University Place, Suite 360
Evanston, Illinois 60201-3172
Phone: 847-866-9311 x11

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Current Research

My research focuses on how people participate in decision-making and management of local environments and in combining methods and information from a variety of science disciplines to better address complex issues. A lot of my research is in urban areas, where nearby nature plays a vital role in improving quality of life.

With my research colleagues, we are looking civic engagement in stewardship in the Chicago Wilderness region and in comparison to similar activities in others cities. This builds on earlier work where I looked at volunteer motivations and the social impacts of block-level greening projects.

In the RESTORE project we are investigating whether the social structure of groups making ecological restoration decisions makes a difference in terms of the biodiversity of the restoration sites. If it does, it points to best management practices for enhancing biodiversity but if it doesn't, that's good, too because it indicates that a variety of approaches to restoration may be effective, thereby expanding the suite of options for conducting ecological restoration.

I have long been involved in research and other projects in the Calumet rustbelt landscape of southeast Chicago and northwest Indiana. Currently my focus there is with the Northwest Indiana Urban waters project ( Information on earlier work can be found here (

Research Interests

  • Continue to refine and strengthen participatory decision making and management of natural areas.
  • Continuing the integration of social, biological, and physical disciplines in natural resources research.

Why This Research is Important

We understand the importance of habitat for wildlife, yet humans need good habitat, too. Trees, rivers and streams, parks and other open spaces all play a significant role in creating good places to live. My work helps planners, municipal employees, elected officials, NGOs, tree advocates, and others understand how to manage natural resources to improve quality of life and achieve environmental justice.


  • University of Illinois at Chicago, Ph.D. Public Policy Analysis and Urban Planning., 1999
  • Northeastern Illinois University, M.A. Geography and Environmental Studies, 1992
  • University of Wisconsin, Madison, B.A. South Asian Studies, 1982

Professional Organizations

  • Environmental Design Research Association
  • American Psychological Association
  • American Sociological Association
  • International Society of Arboriculture
  • Society for Conservation Biology

Featured Publications & Products

Publications & Products

National Research Highlights

Models for Ecological Restoration in Urban Areas: Lessons From the USA and Europe (2010)
NRS researchers Paul Gobster and Lynne Westphal and a German colleague, Matthias Gross, analyzed urban restoration projects and developed several alternative models that articulate the various possible types of restoration projects.

Street-Level Views of Climate Change (2011)
Forest Service researchers and partners interviewed residents of two Chicago neighborhoods about their awareness of climate change and their own climate-friendly behaviors. They found that residents have varying levels of knowledge about climate change and identified many opportunities to simultaneously meet neighborhood goals and mitigate the impacts of climate change. The findings will help the City of Chicago shape its Climate Action Plan outreach to residents and the lessons learned are applicable in other places as well.

Last updated on : 07-Nov-2016