Gregory Simon

Ph.D. • Professor
Department of Geography & Environmental Sciences

Mailing Address:
Dept. of Geography & Environmental Sciences
Campus Box 172
P.O. Box 173364
Denver, CO 80217-3364

Physical Location:
Auraria Campus
North Classroom Building
Room 3016-D

Expertise Areas:

Human-Environment Interactions; Environmental Policy and Governance; Political Ecology; Critical Development Studies; Science and Technology Studies

Post Doctoral Fellow, Environmental Policy, Stanford University, 2009
PhD, Geography, University of Washington, 2007
MESM, Environmental Science & Mgmt, University of California, Santa Barbara, 2001
BA, Economics, University of California, Santa Cruz, 1997

I am an Associate Professor of Geography and Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado Denver. My teaching and research are informed by the fields of political ecology, environmental management and policy, critical development studies, environmental history, and science and technology studies. I also hold Affiliate Faculty appointments in Urban and Regional Planning at CU Denver and in the Department of Geography at CU Boulder. I am a Research Fellow in the Colorado Center for Sustainable Urbanism.  Before moving to Colorado, I spent two years as a Postdoctoral Fellow at Stanford University where I was a Principal Investigator in Stanford’s Spatial History Project. I have held subsequent Visiting Scholar positions at UCLA, Stanford and ETH Zurich. I received my PhD in Geography at the University of Washington.

Research: I am a human-environment geographer interested in the relationship between environmental change and social vulnerability. I am also interested in the production of  misinformation and “lack of knowledge” in environmental decision making. Broadly speaking, my research seeks to (a) detail how environment and development policy objectives are defined rhetorically, substantiated scientifically, organized administratively and negotiated politically; (b) expose program/policy tensions that produce undesirable and inequitable social and ecological outcomes; and (c) describe the emergence of new governance arrangements that reconcile program tensions and produce alternative outcomes. I have applied this research framework to diverse topics including wildfires and urbanization, cookstove-based sustainable development, forest cover change, gender empowerment, outdoor recreation, the 100th Meridian, social vulnerability to climate change, essential food workers and pandemic responses.

Teaching and Advising: All of the research endeavors mentioned above involve student-learning opportunities in domestic and international settings. I believe the best research activities activate student-learning, while the most valuable educational moments are achieved through dynamic student research. I teach a number of different classes that provide students with opportunities to (a) deepen their core knowledge of past and contemporary social-environmental issues, (b) develop practical abilities that will assist their future academic and professional careers, and (c) refine critical thinking skills so they are better able to question the presentation and substance of mainstream knowledge and conventional wisdoms.  In my classes, I find it is important to not just describe the social and environmental issues we face today but to also detail how and why economic, political and cultural forces come to produce these outcomes and mediate the way we understand and respond to them.

Graduate students interested in working with me should contact me directly and provide a brief description of your research interests.

- G.L. Simon, B. Wee, D. Chatti, E. Anderson. 2021. “Drawing on Knowledge: Visual Narrative Analysis for Critical Environment and Development Research” Environment and Planning E: Nature and Space

- C. Eriksen, G.L. Simon, F. Roth, S. Lakhina, B. Wisner, C. Adler, F. Thomalla, A. Scolobig, K. Brady, M. Brundl, F. Neisser, N. Grenfell, L. Maduz, T. Prior. 2020. “Rethinking the Interplay Between Vulnerability and Affluence to Aid Climate Change Adaptive Capacity” Climatic Change

- G.L. Simon, C. Peterson, E. Anderson, B. Berve, M. Caturia, I. Rivera. 2020. “Multiple Temporalities of Household Labour and the Challenge of Assessing Women’s Empowerment” Development and Change 

- A. Chin, G.L. Simon, P. Anthamatten, KC. Kelsey, BR. Crawford, AJ. Weaver. 2020. “Pandemics and the Future of Human-Landscape Interactions” Anthropocene 31

- G.L. Simon, C. Peterson. 2019. "Disingenuous Forests: A Historical Political Ecology of Fuelwood Collection in South India" Journal of Historical Geography 63:1 pp. 34-47

- G.L. Simon. 2018. "How the West Was Spun: The De-politicization of Fire in the American West" In, Lave R, Biermann C, Lane S. (eds) Handbook on Critical Physical Geography Palgrave Macmillan

- G.L. Simon. 2018. "The Rise of Disingenuous Nature and Neoliberalism Stealth Unknown-Knowns." In, Reflecting on Neoliberal Natures: An Exchange (P. Bigger and J. Dempsey) Environment and Planning E:Nature and Space 1:1-2 pp. 71-75

- C Eriksen, G.L. Simon. 2017. "The Affluence-Vulnerability Interface: Intersecting Scales of Risk, Privilege and Disaster" Environment and Planning A 49:2 pp. 293-313

- G.L. Simon. 2017. Flame and Fortune in the American West: Urban Development, Environmental Change and the Great Oakland Hills Fire. University of California Press, CA 

- G.L. Simon. 2016. "How regions do work, and the work we do: a constructive critique of regions in political ecology." Journal of Political Ecology 23 pp. 197-203

- A. Kinoshita, A. Chin, G.L. Simon, C. Briles, T. Hogue, A. O’Dowd, A. Gerlak, A. Uribe. 2016. “Wildfire, Water and Society: Toward Integrative Research in the “Anthropocene”” Anthropocene 16 pp. 16-27

- A. Chin, L. An, J.L. Florsheim, L.R. Laurencio, R.A. Marston, A.P. Solverson, G.L. Simon, E. Stinson, E. Wohl. 2016. "Investigating feedbacks in human-landscape systems: Lessons following a wildfire in Colorado, USA." Geomorphology 252 pp.40-50

- G.L. Simon. 2014. "Vulnerablity-in-Production: A Spatial History of Nature, Affluence and Fire in Oakland, California" Annals of the Association of American Geographers 104:6 pp. 1199-1221

- G.L. Simon. 2014. "If You Can’t Stand the Heat, Get Into the Kitchen: Obligatory Passage Points and Mutually Supported Impediments at the Climate-Development Interface" Area 46:3 pp. 268-277

- G.L. Simon, R. Bailis, J. Baumgarner, J. Hyman, A. Laurent. 2014. "Current Debates and Future Research Needs in the Clean Cookstoves Sector" Energy for Sustainable Development 20 pp. 49-57

- R. Lave, M. Wilson, E. Barron, C. Biermann, M. Carey, M. Doyle, C. Duvall, L. Johnson, M. Lane, J. Lorimer, N. McClintock, D. Munroe, R. Pain, J. Proctor, B. Rhoads, M. Robertson, J. Rossi, N. Sayre, G.L. Simon, M. Tadaki, and C. Van Dyke. 2014. "Critical Physical Geography." The Canadian Geographer 58:1 pp. 1-10

- G.L. Simon and S. Dooling. 2013. "Flame and Fortune in California: The Material and Political Dimensions of Vulnerability" Global Environmental Change 23:6 pp. 1410-1423

- G.L. Simon and P. Alagona. 2013. "Contradictions at the Confluence of Commerce, Consumption and Conservation; or, An REI Shopper Camps in the Forest, Does Anyone Notice?" Geoforum 45 pp. 325-336

- G.L. Simon, B. Wee, A. Chin, A. Depierre, D. Guth, H. Mason. 2013. "Synthesis for the interdisciplinary environmental sciences: Integrating systems approaches and service learning." Journal of College Science Teaching 42: 5 pp. 42-49

- G.L. Simon, A. Bumpus, P. Mann. 2012. "Win-Win Scenarios at the Climate-Development Interface: Challenges and Opportunities for Cookstove Replacement Programs Through Carbon Finance" Global Environmental Change 22 pp. 275-287

- P. Alagona and G.L. Simon. 2012. "Leave No Trace Starts at Home: A Response to Critics and Vision for the Future" Ethics, Policy and Environment 15:1

- H. Bischel, G.L. Simon, T. Frisby, D Luthy. 2012. "Management Experiences and Trends for Water Reuse Implementation in Northern California" Environmental Science and Technology 46 pp. 180-188

- G.L. Simon and S. Dooling. 2012. Cities, Nature, Development: The Politics and Production of Urban Vulnerabilities. Aldershot UK, Ashgate Publishing 

- G.L. Simon. 2012. "Development, Risk Momentum and the Ecology of Vulnerability: A Historical-Relational Analysis of the 1991 Oakland Hills Firestorm" In, Cities, Nature, Development: The Politics and Production of Urban Vulnerabilities. Eds. S. Dooling and G. Simon. Ashgate Publishing, Aldershot, UK

- D. Biehler and G.L. Simon. 2011. "The Great Indoors: Research Frontiers on Indoor Environments as Active Political Ecological Spaces" Progress in Human Geography 35:2 pp. 172-192

- G.L. Simon. 2011. "The 100th Meridian, Ecological Boundaries and the Problem of Reification." Society and Natural Resources 24:1 pp. 95-101

- G.L. Simon. 2010. "Mobilizing Cookstoves for Development: A Dual Adoption Framework Analysis of Collaborative Technology Innovations in Western India" Environment and Planning A 42 pp. 2011-2030

- G.L. Simon and J. Graybill. 2010. "Geography in Interdisciplinarity: Towards a Third Conversation." Geoforum 41: 3 pp. 356-363

- P. Alagona and G.L. Simon. 2010. "The Role of Field Study in Humanistic and Interdisciplinary Environmental Education." Journal of Experiential Education 32: 3 pp. 191-206

- G.L. Simon. 2009. "Geographies of Mediation: Market Development and the Rural Broker in Maharashtra, India." Political Geography 28:3 pp. 197-207

- G.L. Simon and P. Alagona. 2009. "Beyond 'Leave no Trace'" Ethics, Place and Environment 12:1 pp. 17-34

- J. Graybill, S. Dooling, A. Greve, V. Shandas, J. Withey, G.L. Simon. 2006. "A Rough Guide to Interdisciplinarity: Graduate Student Perspectives." Bioscience 56: 9 pp. 757-763

- S. Dooling, G.L. Simon, K. Yocom. 2006. "Place-Based Urban Ecology: A Century of Park Planning in Seattle." Urban Ecosystems 9:4 pp. 299-321 

ENVS 1342, Introduction to Environment, Society and Sustainability
GEOG 4/5420, The Politics of Nature
GEOG 4/5440, Science, Policy and the Environment
GEOG 4/5580, Urban Sustainability: Perspectives and Practice
GEOG 4700 /ENVS 5700, Synthesis for Interdisciplinary Science
GEOG 6300, Foundations Seminar in Human-Environment Interaction
GEOG 6750, Research Design
URPL 7014, PhD Seminar Colloquium