The Institute For Sustainable Communities

Mission Statement

Produce transformative research that offers solutions for more sustainable and vibrant communities, translate the research into action through engagement, and create high impact learning experiences for students.

About Us

The Texas A&M  Institute For Sustainable Communities (IfSC) is the university’s focal point of interdisciplinary sustainable community research, engagement, and high impact service learning.  The Institute is the go-to place for A&M faculty, staff, and students to collaborate on work that crosses sectors and disciplines, advancing solutions that link knowledge to action, and solves critical societal challenges of today and tomorrow.

Working on campus and around the world, we strive to support development of sustainable communities and cities that seek balance between human and environmental needs of people today and of generations to come; provide fair and equitable access to resources to improve the development of human capabilities and wellbeing; engage in civil engagement and participatory, democratic decisionmaking; and include adaptive capacity to survive, respond and grow in the face of expanding physical, social and economic threats.

Core Themes and Strategies

I. Transformative Research

  • Nurture and expand collaborative networks of interdisciplinary faculty and students from different colleges and departments.
  • Create and sustain research-practitioner teams from around the world to identify and explore core questions of sustainable communities.

II. Community Engagement

  • Foster and test new and emerging citizen science and participatory methods.
  • Cultivate partnerships to build trust and community capacity to translate knowledge into action.

III. High Impact Service Learning

  • Provide place-based urban design studios, capstone courses, and domestic and international field site programs.
  • Stimulate development of new interdisciplinary degree and certificate programs.

Imagined Outcomes

  • Innovations in science and technologies to advance sustainable design, planning and development decision making of communities to achieve healthier and more equitable places, better-performing economies, and more resilient built and natural systems.
  • Highly developed social networks aimed at building university-community-private sector partnerships for advancing the sustainability of communities and regions.
  • A new generation of students able to synthesize diverse sources of scientific information and citizen knowledge in ways that help communities solve problems.

Philip Berke

Professor, Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning Director, Institute for Sustainable Communities


  • Hazard Reduction & Recovery Center
  • Department of Landscape Architecture & Urban Planning


  • Urban planning, community resilience, climate change, and public engagement.


  • I am a professor of land use and environmental planning in the Department of Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning, and Director of the Institute of Sustainable Coastal Communities at College Station. My work lies at the intersection of land use planning, urban ecology, and community resilience to environmental hazards. It is motivated by a passion to understand the connections among urban development, natural environmental systems, equity, and community governance. An incredibly rewarding aspect of my research is to inspire and empower my students. In my teaching and research, I emphasize active learning, critical thinking, and real-world applications of the concepts and issues related to land use and environmental planning. I am the co-recipient of several best article awards and honorable mention awards from the Journal of the American Planning Association, co-author of a book selected as one of the 100 Essential Books in Planning for the 20th Century by the American Planning Association, and served as a Senior Fulbright Scholar in New Zealand. In 2013, I received the Award for Excellence in Doctoral Student Mentoring by the University of North Carolina Graduate School. My research is currently supported by grants from the National Science Foundation and Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate.

John Thomas Cooper Jr. – Associate Professor of Practice, Texas Target Communities Director


  • Texas Target Communities
  • Hazard Reduction & Recovery Center
  • Department of Landscape Architecture & Urban Planning
  • Center for Housing and Urban Development


    • B.A., (Economics) Texas A&M University, 1992 M.U.P., Texas A&M University, 1994 Ph.D.,(City & Regional Planning) University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, 2004


Dr. Cooper’s areas of interest include principles of inclusive planning and plan quality. He has a deep commitment to working with planners to transform communities from high risk/low opportunity to equitable, resilient, and adaptive by mitigating the threats to the economy, environment, and culture.



The first two photos were taken at a tabletop breakfast May 2017, that was co-sponsored by, Texas Southern University’s  School of Public Affairs.  Dr. Cooper, brought Texas A & M University’s grad students to present to civic leader’s copies of the final design of the Charity Productions, Archaeology Blue Print (Sunny Side First Prototype). The last two photos Dr. Cooper prepares to speak to a group of civic leaders and Jones High School students at a pre-Harvey community workshop as Assistant Chief Troy Finner, HPD, finishes his presentation, at South Park Baptist Church.

 Nasir Gharaibeh, Associate Professor – Division Head, Transportation & Materials Engineering Holder of the Zachry Career Development Professorship I in Civil Engineering


Research Interests

  • Infrastructure condition assessment and deterioration modeling
  • Infrastructure management decision support systems
  • Infrastructure lifecycle analysis
  • Quality assurance systems for infrastructure construction and maintenance
  • Pavement design, preservation, and management


  • Ph.D. University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, 1997
  • Research Project
  • South Park Project Summary of Drainage Inspections-South Park-1-2018[10577

Jennifer Horney, Ph.D., MPH, CPH – Department Head/Associate Professor

Education and Training

  • Ph.D., Epidemiology, School of Public Health, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill – 2009
  • MPH, School of Public Health, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill – 2003

Recent Publications

  • Kirsch KR, Feldt B, Zane DF, Haywood T, Jones R, Horney JA. (2016). A longitudinal community assessment of wildfire response and recovery, Bastrop County, Texas. Health Security. 14(2): 93-104. DOI: 10.1089/hs.2015.0060.
  • Horney JA, Nguyen M, Salvesen D, Tomasco O*, Berke P. (2016) Engaging the public in planning for disaster recovery. International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction. 17:33-37. DOI: 10.1016/j.ijdrr.2016.03.011.
  • Horney JA, Dwyer C*, Aminto M*, Berke P, Smith G. (2016) Developing indicators to measure post-disaster community recovery. Disasters. DOI: 10.1111.disa.12190.
  • Horney JA, Bamrara S*, Lazo M, Shehane M. (2016) EpiAssist: Service-Learning in public health education. Education for Health 29(1):30-34.
  • Zane D, Haywood T, Adams B, Heines V, Herminia A, Heines V, Feldt BA, Rosen JG, Henry J, Thompson K, Stonum, S, Kiger J, Johnson K, Wiltz-Beckham D, Gomez M, Short K, Stone K, Horney JA. (2016) Lessons learned from the Field: Community Assessment for Public Health Emergency Response (CASPER). Texas Public Health Journal 68(1):6-13.
  • Horney JA, Spurlock D, Grabich S*, Berke P. (2016) Capacity for stakeholder participation in recovery planning. Planning Practice & Research 31(1):65-79. DOI: 10.1080/02697459.2015.1104220.
  • Grabich SC*, Robinson WR, Engel SM, Konrad C, Robinson D, Horney JA. (2015) County-level hurricane exposure and birth rates: Application of difference-in-differences analysis for confounding control. Emerging Themes in Epidemiology. DOI: 10.1186/s12982-015-0042-7.

Newman, Galen

Associate Professor Associate Department Head Program Coordinator, Bachelor of Science in Urban Planning (BSURPN) Associate Director, Center for Hazard Reduction and Recovery (HRRC) Community Resilience Core Lead, Institute for Sustainable Communities (IfSC)Departments: Hazard Reduction & Recovery Center Department of Landscape Architecture & Urban Planning

Projects with Charity Producitons to be posted soon.