Ward Lyles

Ward Lyles
  • Associate Professor
  • Director, Center for Compassionate and Sustainable Communities, Institute for Policy & Social Research
  • Urban Planning Program

Contact Info

Snow Hall, Room 215


Dr. Lyles' research and teaching interests center on the intersection of people, the built environment, and the natural environment. He holds a Ph.D. from the Department of City and Regional Planning at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he also worked as a post-doctoral research associate. Prior to obtaining his Ph.D., he lived in Madison, Wisconsin, where he worked at 1000 Friends of Wisconsin, a planning-oriented non-profit organization, co-founded Madison Magnet, a social capital-oriented non-profit organization, and was very engaged in the civic and political life of the city. Dr. Lyles is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP).


Dr. Lyles' current research projects explore 1) the use of planning to reduce long-term risks from natural hazards and climate change, 2) the roles of emotions and compassion in public service, 3) the growing movement to return land to Indigenous nations, and 4) state and local initiatives to promote a just transition to green energy. He has published more than 20 peer reviewed journal articles and book chapters and led more than $1 million in externally-funded research projects. His paper with Stacey White, "Who Cares? The Emotional Paradox Arnstein’s ladder, the emotional paradox of public engagement, and (re) imagining planning as caring," won the Best Paper award in the Journal of the American Planning Association in 2020. Dr. Lyles has won numerous awards for the scholarly and practical applications of his work.


Dr. Lyles teaches courses in the areas of land use planning, sustainability, planning for climate change and disasters, and planning practice. His current courses include: Foundations of Compassionate Critical Thinking and Planning for Climate Change and Disasters (both core courses for all master in urban planning students), as well as Planning for Sustainable Cities (an undergraduate course). Dr. Lyles has served as an Ambassador and Faculty Fellow with KU's acclaimed Center for Teaching Excellence. He has been awarded the inaugural Curriculum Innovation Award from ACSP and the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy and the Budig Teaching Professorship in the Behavioral and Social Sciences. He has also published articles and book chapters, as well help create a Climate Community Exchange for sharing teaching resources through ACSP.

Teaching interests:

  • Environmental Planning
  • Land Use Planning
  • Research Methods
  • Statistics
  • Sustainable
  • Planning
  • Cities
  • Natural Hazards
  • Climate Change
  • Mitigation
  • Adaptation
  • Diversity
  • Equity
  • Inclusion

Selected Publications

Lyles, W. (2013). The Role of Hazard Mitigation Planning in Building Local Capacity and Commitment: A Tale of Six States. International Journal of Mass Emergencies and Disasters - Issue 2 | Volume 31.

Awards & Honors

<div class="fp-award fp-container"><div class="aca-award">Best Paper Award 2020. Journal of the American Planning Association. Received: 11-03-2022.</div><div class="aca-award">Gene A. Budig Teaching Professorship in the Behavioral and Social Sciences. University of Kansas. Received: 5-15-2021.</div></div>