Elizabeth Walsh’s research and teaching focus on the theory, history and practice of environmental justice, sustainable development, and regenerative design.
Her research and practice has been action-oriented, place-based, transdisciplinary, and community-engaged. She collaborates with diverse partners who share her interest in co-creating ecologically sustainable and socially just communities, now and in the future.
Dr. Walsh’s dissertation research investigated the potential of low-income home renovation programs to advance environmental justice in centrally located, gentrifying neighborhoods. As part of her research, she co-founded the Holly Neighbors Helping Neighbors program, a neighborhood, volunteer-based green home renovation program intended to reduce utility bills and ecological footprints while improving health and cultivating relationships among diverse neighbors. She has also served as the Vice Chair of the Austin Housing Repair Coalition, a group of more than a dozen public, non-profit, and private organizations dedicated to improving the health and environmental performance of low-income housing through home repair. Walsh was also the co-founder of The Festival Beach Food Forest project, a grassroots movement to create the first fence-less, edible forest garden in a public park in Austin (www.festivalbeach.org). Her earlier work in community-engaged green infrastructure planning included leadership of Boston’s first GIS-based street tree inventory.
Dr. Walsh’s service activities also align with her teaching and research interests. From 2008 -2015, she served as a founding board member of EcoRise Youth Innovations (ecorise.org), a school-based program that empowers youth to tackle real-world challenges in their schools and communities by teaching environmental literacy, social innovation, and hands-on design skills. Walsh's reflective practice in regenerative design is also supported by her participation in the Living Environments in Natural, Social and Economic Systems (LENSES) Working Group with the Institute for the Built Environment at Colorado State University. Through her research and practice in regenerative design, she has been investigating a theory of resilient leadership, understood as an emergent property of a resilient, self-organizing community of diverse citizens who lead from their awareness of self, others, and the whole living system to which they belong.
Elizabeth Walsh has a BA in Peace and Justice Studies with an Economics minor at Wellesley College, and studied Geographic Information Systems (GIS) at Northeastern University. She has a Masters degree and a PhD in Community and Regional Planning from the University of Texas at Austin. While pursuing her PhD at UT, she was also an NSF IGERT Trainee in the Indoor Environmental Sciences and Engineering Program.