Shannon Sweeney

Judd Schechtman


Dissertation Topic: Keeping Castles Out of the Sand: Defining and Measuring Best Practices for Coastal Resilience and Climate Change Adaptation


Dissertation Advisors: Bob Burchell and Clint Andrews


Previous Degrees: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Juris Doctor and Master of Urban Planning (2002); Emory University, B.A. (Economics and Human and Natural Ecology, 1998).


Contact Information



Research Interest

My research interests center around the theme of how humans relate to and interact with the environment. I am interested in the question of how property rights intersect with, mitigate and negotiate with public law, and the resulting outcome in the built and natural environment. The major focus of my current work is the multi-scalar legal barriers to creating sustainable urbanism, with a particular focus on climate change mitigation and adaptation as well as disaster planning and recovery.


My dissertation focuses on an inventory and analysis of low-cost locally-driven best practices for resilience and adaptation to climate change in North Atlantic coastal communities.


Findings revealed that coastal towns are using a range of tools to adapt to worsening coastal hazards and climate change. Although systematic incorporation of climate change into community planning and infrastructure design is in a nascent stage, other types of innovative practices abound.


One of the central findings was that the classification of adaptation strategies by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (1990) is insufficient, as it does not address a large number of community-based best practices, such as climate adaptive procedures and plans and prevention strategies. Incorporating resilience and climate change concerns into plans and land use regulations are a low-cost and effective means of adaptation, and are more readily adopted and implemented than engineering solutions and hard infrastructure.


The effectiveness and low-cost of planning interventions can ensure that communities' built and natural environments are resilient against worsening coastal hazards. Greater adoption of these strategies would increase the likelihood that recovery from disaster is more sustainable and just and accomplished at a lower overall cost to society.


Teaching and TA Experience:

  • Principles of Planning Law – Instructor - Summer 2008, 2009, 2010; Fall 2010
  • Land Development Practice – T.A. Fall 2009
  • Urban Design Studio – T.A. Spring 2012
  • Principles of Planning Law – Spring 2014


Complete Curriculum Vitae (C.V.)