Brian Petersen, PhD
Interim Director, 2019-2020
Assistant Professor, Department of Geography, Planning, and Recreation
- Ph.D., Environmental Studies, University of California Santa Cruz
- M.S., Forest Resources, University of Washington
- M.P.A., University of Washington
- B.S., Environmental Science, University of Idaho
- Forest policy and management
- Climate change adaptation
- Wilderness & Public Lands
- The Human Relationship to Nature
Dr. Brian Petersen is assistant professor in Geography, Planning & Recreation at Northern Arizona University and interim director of the Sustainable Communities Program in 2019-2020.
Dr. Petersen has a strong interdisciplinary background, which he draws on for teaching and research. His research focuses on forest policy and management and on climate change adaptation to meet conservation objectives on a landscape scale. In particular, he focuses on land management in the western United States and how federal agencies and other landowners plan to adapt to climate change. Dr. Petersen’s current research project focuses on whitebark pine dieoff, tradeoffs in that emerge in whitebark restoration efforts and how wilderness designation affects these restoration efforts.
Prior to joining the faculty at NAU, Dr. Petersen held an assistant professor position at Western Michigan University in the Environmental and Sustainability Studies Program. He had a three-year research associate position at Michigan State University where he conducted research in conjunction with the Nature Conservancy on climate change adaptation perceptions by Great Lakes resource managers.
Dr. Petersen also has a strong interest in interfacing with local governments and federal agencies. His work has influenced the emerging Landscape Conservation Cooperatives, a federal program designed to integrate conservation management activities between local, state and federal entities across large landscapes in the US. He also conducted a municipal greenhouse gas inventory, in conjunction with an undergraduate, for the City of Kalamazoo, which served as the initiation point for their broader climate action planning project.
Dr. Petersen has taught both undergraduate and graduate courses that center around the human relationship with nature. At Michigan State University and Western Michigan University he taught courses on sustainability, public lands, nature & society, forest management and policy, ecofeminism, environmental racism, social ecological systems, and created an interdisciplinary course on climate change.