Research Profile and Projects

Research Profile and Projects

Department Research Profile and Projects

Faculty in the Department of Geography, Planning & Sustainability conduct research in many areas, from waste and stormwater management to participatory and food systems planning; from public health and geospatial analysis techniques to ecology and sensing urban place. While the topics may vary, reflecting our faculty's personalities and interests, all of our department's research shares common themes of human-environment interaction and interdisciplinary collaboration.

Our outreach activities inform public policy, foster sustainable communities and smart growth, and promote natural resource conservation. We also aim to partner with state and local government as well as regional non-profits, and many faculty endeavor to incorporate Rowan undergraduates into their work when possible. 

In fiscal year 2017 our department secured approximately $500,000 in externally funded research from sources such as the National Science Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the US Environmental Protection Agency, the New Jersey National Guard, and the Dodge Foundation. This puts us among the most successful research departments, on a per capita basis, at Rowan University.

Read on to learn more about ongoing research in our department! 


GeoLab-National Guard Partnership

Rowan's Department of Geography, Planning & Sustainability has partnered with the New Jersey National Guard and its headquarters, the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMAVA), for 10 years. This partnership has provided extensive research and internship support that is facilitated by Professor and Principal Investigator Dr. John Hasse and Steve Berg, both Rowan alumni. The research components of the program provide a core dimension of the Department of Geography, Planning & Sustainability's GeoLab, while the intenships have provided excellent career experience that helps students navigate the post-commencement job search.

The Rowan-National Guard Internship expands on topics from the Department's curriculum and provides experience with GPS data collection and multi-user database editing. Interns are responsible for surveying and mapping assets for New Jersey National Guard installations, construction projects, and related master planning tasks. The program provides students with applied, real-world opportunities to hone their GIS skills while providing DMAVA with extensive GIS and mapping expertise.

For more information about the student internships, contact Steve Berg at


Rowan Solid Waste Lab

The Rowan Solid Waste Lab (RSWL) examines solid waste management from multiple perspectives. Led by Dr. Jordan P. Howell, RSWL projects critically evaluate waste management plans and programs around New Jersey and mid-Atlantic region. The RSWL strives to contextualize contemporary developments in solid waste management with historical regional, national, and international trends. Learn more about RSWL on the dedicated site. Currently, students and faculty working with RSWL are focused on Dr. Howell's National Science Foundation-funded project examining the history of waste management in New Jersey.


Cultivating the Environmental Humanities @Rowan

The School of Earth & Environment is proud to be the home of this innovative interdisciplinary venture that engages both humanistic and scientific methodologies for examining the interwoven nature of environments and societies. Led by Dr. Jordan P. Howell and Dr. Dustin Crowley (in the Dept. of English at Rowan), "Cultivating the Environmental Humanities" aims to bring the tools, approaches, and sensibilities of humanities disciplines into processes of environmental problem-solving. Learn more about the National Endowment for the Humanities-funded project here.


NJ Map

NJ Map is a suite of internet-based geospatial tools and map themes designed to assist New Jersey municipalities and local level stakeholders in better visualizing and understanding their environment. Created and maintained by the Rowan University’s Geospatial Research Lab (GeoLab) since 2011, NJ Map helps facilitates sound land use and environmental management decisions in order to achieve sustainability goals and objectives. Each of the tools are intuitively designed so that volunteer citizen users (such as planning board members, environmental commission members, watershed organizations, green action committees, citizen groups, etc.) can have easy access to the vast amounts of geospatial data available for New Jersey that are typically only accessible to trained GIS professionals. Learn more about NJ MAP on the official site.


Community Planning and Visualization Lab

The Community Planning and Visualization Lab, led by Dr. Mahbubur Meenar, explores the connections between social, natural, and built environments and how they influence the process of planning for healthy, resilient, and equitable communities. Using a sustainability lens, the lab examines how the nexus of land, water, and food play a role in spatial planning and community planning. The lab engages in both empirical and practice-based research. Current projects include brownfields redevelopment, equitable distribution of green infrastructure, and the use of immersive and multi-sensory virtual reality in participatory planning. Learn more about this lab on the dedicated web site (external site).


Rowan Public Space Lab

The Rowan Public Space Lab (RPSL) studies the relationship between public life and public space at Rowan University through observational and tactical urbanism methodologies.  The RPSL springs from the assertion that public spaces are critical sites in the making of healthy, happy, just, and sustainable communities.  Led by Dr. Jen Kitson and Megan Bucknum, RPSL projects study the social life of public spaces for the purpose of maximizing shared use, meaning, and value of public space for all.  This process of placemaking is integral to the pursuit of place-based social sustainability goals and especially salient within the college campus context.  Recently, students, faculty, and staff coordinated to hold the first Pop-Up Movie on Robinson Green as part of a semester-long study of the limited nighttime use and social activation of this public space.  A 2017 Innovations in Rowan Teaching Using Technology Grant will support the use of projection mapping technology as a new medium for students to research, design, and narrate urban and environmental history in public space.  


New Jersey Geographic Alliance

The New Jersey Geographic Alliance, referred to as NJGA, is a non-profit, volunteer network of teachers and geographers who are committed to using geographic content and skills to improve the educational experiences of New Jersey teachers and students in K-12 education. We are proud the be the institutional home of the NJGA! Learn more on the NJGA page.