Louise Chawla
Professor Emerita • CEDaR Fellow

Louise Chawla is professor emerita in the Program in Environmental Design at the University of Colorado Boulder. Previously associate director of the Children, Youth and Environments Center and co-editor of the Center's journal Children, Youth and Environments, she is now a Community Engagement, Design and Research (CEDaR) fellow. She is an active participant in Growing Up Boulder, a partnership that she helped establish between CEDaR, the Boulder Valley School District and the City of Boulder to integrate the ideas of children and youth into urban planning and design. Formerly international coordinator of the Growing Up in Cities program of UNESCO from 1996-2006, she now serves as an advisor for a revival of this initiative that involves young people in cities around the world in evaluating and improving their urban communities. She is also a member of the Scientific Advisory Committee of Children and Nature Network. She has written three books and many book chapters and journal articles on children and nature, children in cities, and the development of active care for the natural world.  Most recently, she is a coauthor of the book, Placemaking with Children and Youth: Participatory Practices for Planning Sustainable Communities (New Village Press, 2018).


Selected Publications


Derr, V., Chawla, L., & Mintzer, M. Placemaking with Children and Youth: Participatory Practices to Plan Sustainable Communities. New York: New Village Press, 2018. Winner of the Environmental Design Research Association “2019 Achievement Award.”

Chawla, L., Editor and Co-Author. (2002). Growing Up in an Urbanising World. Paris/London: UNESCO/Earthscan Publications. Book and project on which it is based won Environmental Design Research Association "Place Research Award."

Chawla, L. (1994). In the First Country of Places: Nature, Poetry, and Childhood Memory. Albany: State University of New York Press.

Selected Book Chapters

  • Chawla, L. (in press). “Knowing nature in childhood: Learning and wellbeing through engagement with the natural world.” In A. Schutte, J. Stevens & J. Torquati (Eds.), Nature and Psychology: How the Natural World Shapes Our Cognition. Springer Science + Business Media.
  • Sobko, T., and Chawla, L. (2020). “Intergenerational gardening on urban rooftops: The example of the ‘Play and Grow’ Program in Hong Kong.” In M. Kaplan, J. Hoffman, M. Sánchez & L. L. Thang (Eds.), Intergenerational Contact Zones: Place-based Tools for Promoting Social Inclusion and Belonging. Abingdon, UK: Routledge (ebook).
  • Mintzer, M., and Chawla, L. (2020). Turning young people’s ideas into action: Learning from long-term partnerships for child and youth participation. In J. Loebach, S. Little, A. Cox & P. Eubanks Owens (Eds.), Routledge Handbook of Designing Public Spaces for Young People (pp. 135-149). Abingdon-on-Thames, UK: Routledge.
  • Chawla, L., and van Vliet, W. (2020). Welcoming young people in urban placemaking: Learning from challenges. In J. Loebach, S. Little, A. Cox & P. Eubanks Owens (Eds.), Routledge Handbook of Designing Public Spaces for Young People (pp. 120-134). Abingdon-on-Thames, UK: Routledge. 
  • D'Amore, C., and Chawla, L. (2020). Significant life experiences that connect children with nature: A research review and applications to a family nature club. In A. Cutter-Mckenzie, K. Malone & E. Barratt Hacking (Eds.), International Research Handbook on ChildhoodNature (pp. 799-825). Melbourne: Springer.
  • Chawla, L., and Hughes, R. E. (2018). Returning orange waters to blue: Creating a culture of civic engagement through learning experiences. In M. E. Krasny (Ed.), Grassroots to Global: Broader Impacts of Civic Ecology (pp. 85-102). Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. 
  • Chawla, L., and van Vliet, W. (2017). Children’s rights to child friendly cities. In M. Ruck, M. Peterson-Badali and M. Freeman (Eds.), Handbook of Children’s Rights (pp. 533-549). Taylor and Francis.
  • Derr, V., Chawla, L., and van Vliet, W. (2017). "Children as Natural Change Agents: Child Friendly Cities as Resilient Cities."  In K. Bishop and L. Corkery (Eds.), Designing for Kids in the City: Beyond Playgrounds and Skateparks (pp. 25-35).  Routledge Press.
  • Derr, V., Chawla, L., and Pevec, I. (2017). "Early Childhood," In A. Russ and M. Krasny (Eds.),Urban Environmental Education Review (pp. 155-164). Cornell University Press. 
  •  Rigolon, A., Derr, V., and Chawla, L. (2015). Green grounds for play and learning: An intergenerational model for joint design and use of school and park systems. In D. Sinett, N. Smith and S. Burgess (Eds.) Handbook on Green Infrastructure (pp. 281-300). Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar.
  • Chawla, L. & Driskell, D. (2009). Learning by doing: Education for sustainable development through place-based action research. In P.B. Corcoran & P.M. Osano (Eds.), Young People, Education, and Sustainable Development (pp. 91-98). Wageningen Academic Publishers.
  • Chawla, L. & Heft, H. (2006). Children as agents in sustainable development. In M. Blades & C. Spencer (Eds.), Children as Agents in Sustainable Development: The Ecology of Competence (pp. 199-216). New York: Cambridge University Press.

Selected Journal Articles

  • Chawla, L. (2020). Childhood nature connection and constructive hope: A review of research on connecting with nature and coping with environmental loss. People and Nature, 2, 619-642. http//doi.org/10.1002/pan3.10128.
  • Beery, T., Chawla, L., & Levin, P. (2020). Being and becoming in nature: Defining and measuring connection to nature in young children. International Journal for Early Childhood Environmental Education, 7(3), 3-22.
  • Chawla, L. (2020) Helping students cope with environmental change and take constructive civic action. Green Schools Catalyst Quarterly, 7(1).
  • Jordan, C., and Chawla, L. (2019). A coordinated research agenda for nature-based learning. Frontiers in Psychology, 10, Article 766. Doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00766
  • Hill, C, and Chawla, L. (2019). “Fun, novel, safe and inclusive”: Children’s design recommendations for playgrounds for all abilities. Children, Youth and Environments, 29(1), 105-115.
  • Chawla, L. (2018) Nature-based learning for student achievement and ecological citizenship, Curriculum and Teaching Dialogue, 20 (1 & 2), xxv-xxxix.
  • Chawla, L., and White, A. B. (2018). Place-based education and citizen science: Resources for learning beyond the classroom. The NAMTA Journal, 43(3): 4-22. (Journal of the North American Montessori Teachers Association).
  • Kreutz, A., Derr, V., and Chawla, L. (2018). Fluid or fixed? Design processes that facilitate or constrain a sense of inclusion in participatory schoolyard and park design. Landscape Journal, 37(1): 39-54. 
  • Chawla, L. & Flanders Cushing, D. (2007). Education for strategic environmental behavior.Environmental Education Research, 13(4), 437-452.
  • Kingston, B., Wridt, P., Chawla L., van Vliet, W., & Brink, L. (2007). Creating child friendly cities in the case of Denver, USA. Municipal Engineer, 160(2), 97-102.

More publications