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University of Colorado Denver College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

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Faculty & Staff Directory

Gregory Simon, PhD

Assistant Professor

E-mail: Gregory Simon
Web site: GregorySimon
Office Location: NC 3016-D
Phone: 303-556-6393
Fax: 303-556-6197
Office hours: M, W 2-3 p.m. and by appointment
Areas of Expertise:
Environmental policy and governance; political ecology; urban environmental history, development, vulnerability; society-nature-technology relations; interdisciplinary education; U.S. West and South Asia.​

Education & Degrees

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


I am an Assistant Professor of Geography and Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado Denver. I am also an Affiliate Faculty Member in Urban and Regional Planning at CU Denver. Before coming to Colorado, I spent two years as a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University and remain a Principal Investigator in Stanford’s Spatial History Project. I received my PhD in Geography at the University of Washington.

Broadly speaking, my research investigates challenges and opportunities confronting individuals, communities, markets and governments that pursue environmental protection and economic development objectives simultaneously. Using diverse projects, my research seeks to:

  • detail how environment and development policy objectives are defined rhetorically, substantiated scientifically, organized administratively and negotiated politically; 

  • expose program/policy tensions that produce undesirable social and ecological outcomes; 

  • describe the emergence of new governance arrangements that reconcile program tensions and produce alternative outcomes.

In my classes, 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.

Current research includes:

  1. Project assessing the challenges, opportunities and implications of mobilizing household cooking technologies around the developing world to advance various health, development and environmental initiatives, including climate change and household air pollution mitigation
  2. Project using spatial history analysis to explore the relationship between vulnerability, affluence and wildfires in the U.S. West and the diverse factors producing risk across demographic groups – including the role of insurance, structures of taxation, environmental change, building codes, land use practices and community zoning
  3. Project examining the convergence of consumerism and environmentalism in the outdoor recreation industry, including a review of the relationship between equipment manufacturers/retailers, ethical consumerism and protected area conservation policy
  4. Project evaluating challenges and opportunities associated with interdisciplinary environmental education including the merits of deploying pedagogical techniques that deepen and broaden students' appreciation of environmental complexity

Select Publications

G. Simon. ​Flame and Fortune in the American West. University of California Press, CA (Under Contract)​
G. 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. Simon. The Politics of Nature: A Political Ecology. Guilford Press, New York (Under Contract)
G. 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

G. Simon. 2014. “Vulnerablity-in-Production: A Spatial History of Nature, Development and Fire in Oakland, California” Annals of the Association of American Geographers 104:6 pp. xxxx

G. Simon and S. Dooling. 201​3. “Flame and Fortune in California: The Material and Political Dimensions of Vulnerability” Global Environmental Change 23:6 pp. 1410-1423

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. Simon, M. Tadaki, and C. Van Dyke. 2014. "Critical Physical Geography." The Canadian Geographer 10.1111/cag.12061.

G. 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. 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. Simon, A. Bumpus, P. Mann. 2012. “Assessing 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

G. Simon. 2012. “Leave No Trace Starts at Home: A Response to Critics and Vision for the Future” Ethics, Policy and Environment 15:1

G. 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. Simon and S. Dooling. 2012. Cities, Nature, Development: The Politics and Production of Urban Vulnerabilities. Aldershot UK, Ashgate Publishing (Equal Editorship)

G. 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

G. Simon and D. Biehler. 2011. “The Great Indoors: Research Frontiers on Indoor Environments as Active Political Ecological Spaces” Progress in Human Geography 35:2 pp. 172-192 (Equal Authorship)

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

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

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

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

G. 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. Simon. 2006. “A Rough Guide to Interdisciplinarity: Graduate Student Perspectives.” Bioscience 56: 9 pp. 757-763

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

Courses Taught

ENVS 1342, Introduction to Environment and Society

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