Unwinding with Ward Lyles: Compassionate Urban Planner

What’s the foundation of a city? For urban planner Ward Lyles, the spaces we inhabit are defined as much by an approach to life, and the people we encounter, as they are by the systems and physical structures that make up a sound infrastructure. The way he sees it, the true bedrock of a strong community lies in a simple, yet immensely powerful, guiding principle: compassion

With compassion at the center of our framework in the ways we think about life’s biggest problems, Ward says, we stand a better chance of solving them, creatively and collaboratively. And he’s applying this humanist approach in his work addressing some of the major issues facing society today, ranging from climate change and natural disasters, to diversity and social justice work, in the interest of building a network of caring and compassionate communities. 

In this episode we sat with Ward Lyles, assistant professor in the School of Public Affairs & Administration’s Urban Planning Program, at The Commons at KU. Tune in and follow along as we join Ward in a conversation about his work with the KU Center for Teaching Excellence‘s Diversity Scholars Program, his research on resilience in planning, which recently earned him a National Science Foundation CAREER award, as well as the inaugural ACSP/Lincoln Institute Curriculum Innovation Award, and the fundamental question of not just how, but why we plan.

It’s Unwinding with Ward Lyles:

Unwinding is a podcast that tells the human stories driving the minds and talents of the University of Kansas. In each episode we sit down with KU researchers in a favorite or familiar setting to chat about what they’re working on, why they’re passionate about it, why it matters, and what makes them tick as humans. You may find us on campus, running the trails, on a farm, at a coffee shop or down at the pub. Wherever the location, the conversation explores the fascinations and motivations that produce new discoveries.

Unwinding is a collaboration between The Commons at KU and KU’s College of Liberal Arts & Sciences. The Commons is a catalyst for unconventional thinking, interdisciplinary inquiry, and unexpected discoveries across the sciences, arts, and humanities. The College of Liberal Arts & Sciences is the heart of KU. It’s home to more than 50 departments, programs and centers, offering more than 100 majors, minors and certificates. A collaborative and creative community, the College is committed to making the world better through inquiry and research.

Music: Lee Rosevere‘s “Let’s Start at the Beginning