Current Research Projects

Evaluation of Philadelphia Civic Commons Sites

  • Using visitor surveys, resident surveys, and focus groups, we are assessing the outcomes of capital investments being made in city parks in Philadelphia.

  • Key survey metrics:

    • Personal and community park ownership

    • Sense of belonging

    • Perceptions of parks as integral to the neighborhood social fabric

    • Engagement with park organizations

  • Park projects in this study: Bartram’s Garden and Mile, the Rail Park, and Centennial Commons

Understanding St. Louis residents’ perceptions of city parks

  • An online survey administered to St. Louis residents will help us better understand their views of local parks, vacant lots, and gentrification.

  • Key survey metrics:

    • Perceptions of social contact in parks

    • Perceptions of green space ecosystem services

    • Gentrification worldview

    • Park-based social capital


The overall purpose of my dissertation is to understand how discourse related to urban parks aligns with empirical evidence from park users and non-users.

  • Article 1: Discourse analysis of urban park investments

    • The current discourse surrounding public parks in cities may be inordinately positive, and distract from discussions of potential negative outcomes, such as gentrification.

    • I will gather news articles, blog entries, and other documents from urban public park professionals and initiatives to analyze the text under an environmental justice lens:

      • What is the main message?

      • What are the primary concerns and the primary goals of park investment?

      • What claims are being made?

    • I will look specifically for issues related to power dynamics and treatment of equity concerns.

  • Article 2: Discourse analysis of media coverage of urban park investments

    • This study will focus on the discourse created by media sources, in their coverage of park projects.

      • Who is represented in stories?

      • Is there balance in reporting?

      • How does the discourse differ across sites?

    • The discourse analysis will focus on coverage of the High Line in New York and the Rail Park in Philadelphia.

  • Article 3: Assessing relationships between intergroup contact and trust, civic participation, social capital, and socioeconomic integration

    • This study will provide evidence to assess the claims made in the urban park profession regarding potential social outcomes of park investments.

    • Using responses to an online survey, this study will use structural equation modeling to determine relationships between the variables mentioned above.

    • The findings will have implications for cities investing in their park systems.

Please see my cv for past research projects