The Institute For Sustainable Communities

Mission Statement

Produce transformative research that offers solutions for more sustainable and vibrant communities, translate the research to 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 to 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.
  • New generation of students able to synthesize diverse sources of scientific information and citizen knowledge in ways that help communities solve problems.

The Institute For Sustainable Communities

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 of communities from high risk/low opportunity to equitable, resilient, and adaptive by mitigating the threats to the economy, environment, and culture.

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

Jennifer Horney, PhD, MPH, CPH

Department Head/Associate Professor

Education and Training

PhD, Epidemiology, School of Public Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill – 2009

MPH, School of Public Health, 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.

Grabich SC*, Horney JA, Konrad C, Lobdell D. (2015) Measuring the storm: Methods of quantifying hurricane exposure in public health. Natural Hazards Review. DOI: 10.1061/(ASCE)NH.1527-6996.0000204.

Ivy JS, Maillard JM, Horney JA. (2015) Using systems modeling to enhance public health preparedness. Health Systems4(1):1-4.

Horney JA, Simon M, Grabich S*, Berke P. (2015) Measuring participation by socially vulnerable groups in hazard mitigation planning, Bertie County, NC. Journal of Environmental Planning and Management 58(5):802-818. DOI: 10.1080/09640568.2014.892870.

Donovan K, Markiewicz M, Horney JA. (2014) The impact of public health preparedness funding cuts on services provided to local health departments by regional teams in North Carolina: a comparison of two cross-sectional studies. BMC Research Notes 7:319. DOI: 10.1186/1756-0500-7-319.

Vielot N, Horney JA. (2014) Can merging the role of public health preparedness coordinator and emergency manager increase efficiency and effectiveness of public health response? International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 11(3):2911-2921.

Horney JA, Simon M, Grabich S, Berke P. (2014) Assessing individual knowledge of the hazard mitigation planning process, Bertie County, NC. Journal of Environmental Planning and Management. DOI: 10.1080/09640568.2014.892870.

Horney JA, Davis, MK, Ricchetti-Masterson K, MacDonald PDM. (2014) Fueling the public health practice workforce pipeline through student surge capacity response teams. Journal of Community Health 39(1):35-39.

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 CenterDepartment of Landscape Architecture & Urban Planning

The Institute For Sustainable Communities