University of Michigan Gateway Ford School

Profiles of University of Michigan Faculty Experts in State and Local Policy Areas

Professor Daniel G. Brown

Asociate Professor, School of Natural Resources and Environment
Director, Certificate of Graduate Studies in Spatial Analysis
Director, Environmental Spatial Analysis Laboratory, School of Natural Resources & Environment

Years On UM Faculty: 7

Faculty website
Contact Info

When asked about interactions with the policy world, Professor Brown responds:

"Because of the importance of local policymakers in determining land use policy in the U.S., I would like to find ways to interact more closely with local (e.g., county, township and municipal) policymakers. I see the challenge being one of finding a common ground between my broad-scale interests in global change science and the necessarily more locally-focused interests of local planning and policy officials. The cross-scale linkages, in and of themselves, present interesting questions for policy research. My interaction would be more focused on finding a way to both learn more about how local decisionmaking adapts to larger scale environmental concerns and to adapt scientific tools and results for use in local planning."


Trained as a Geographer, Professor Brown focuses on land use and land cover changes and on improving the tools and methodologies available to study and understand them. These tools include geographic information science, spatial modeling, and remote sensing.


"PROJECT SLUCE: Spatial Land Use Change and Ecological Effects at the Rural-Urban Interface: Agent-Based Modeling and Evaluation of Alternative Policies and Interventions" with Joan Nassauer and Scott Page

The complex interaction among current landscape conditions, cultural values and norms, policy prescriptions, and markets dramatically limits the usefulness of linear models of the interaction between the human systems that lead to land use and land cover change and their effects on landscape ecological systems. This project focuses on developing, evaluating and applying agent based models (i.e., computer models that represent the decisionmaking processes by relevant land use decisionmakers, including households, developers, and municipalities) of land use and cover change processes and assessing the interactions with ecosystem structure and function. This project seeks to understand the individual decisionmaking that drives land use decisions and to formulate and test alternative policies and interventions that could reduce environmental costs and enhance environmental benefits. One educational objective of this project involves the dissemination of various versions of the models and data we create to communities outside the University of Michigan, through the internet and various user communities (including GIS users).


Professor Brown is also interested in more basic methodological and technical issues related to using spatial analysis and modeling as tools for scientific research and application. He ultimately hopes that he can contribute to more intelligent use of geographic information in solving public policy problems.

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University of Michigan Gateway Ford School Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy