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Assistant Professor
Faculty Director, Environmental Design, Policy and Planning
Ph.D., 2009, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
MUP, 2004, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

community-based planning, disaster recovery, resilience policy, urban design and placemaking





Dr. Finn is currently conducting a national survey of urban planners about the use of climate science in planning, sponsored by the National Center for Atmospheric Research. The online survey, using Qualtrics, should take about 12 minutes. Twenty randomly selected participants will receive $25 Visa gift cards. If you work in the field of urban planning, you can access the survey at:

Dr. Kevin Reed and Dr. Donovan Finn are seeking to co-advise a graduate student interested in the use of climate data (including climate model output) to inform public policy, urban planning and infrastructure development. This work combines an understanding of climate science along with an interest in application, in order to explore questions such as: How can we better quantify and visualize the potential effects of a changing climate on human populations? How are uncertainties about climate change dealt with by planners and policymakers? How can scientific data and tools be designed to more effectively respond to the needs of end-users?

Dr. Finn teaches courses in the Sustainability Studies Program’s Environmental Planning, Policy and Design major. Trained as an urban planner, Dr. Finn has worked as a community planner in East St. Louis, IL with the University of Illinois ESLARP center, and consulted with local governments in Illinois and Missouri on growth management and sustainable development policy while a research associate at the University of Illinois LEAM laboratory.

His current research focuses primarily on sustainability and resiliency planning in the New York region and the role of public participation in effective planning outcomes. He also works regularly with non-profit organizations and local governments in New York City and Long Island on issues of sustainability, resilience, and public participation.

Dr. Finn teaches a number of the core courses in the Environmental Planning, Policy and Design major/minor. His classes emphasize critical thinking, teamwork and effective communication. Most of his courses include an applied design or planning project in which students apply material learned in the course to a real-world place or issue. See this Newsday article about one of Dr. Finn’s class projects for an example.

An advocate for undergraduate research, Dr. Finn works regularly with students interested in pursuing their own directed research and regularly includes undergraduate students in his own research projects.

Prior to Stony Brook, Dr. Finn taught courses in urban planning, urban policy and sustainable design at Hunter College (City University of New York) and The New School in New York City.

Courses taught regularly:
CSK 101: Advocacy and Change
SBC 200: Human Settlement: History and Future
EDP 302: The Built Environment II.
EDP 307: Theories and Design of Urban Settlements
EDP 404: Environmental Design Project.
SBC 311: Disasters and Society

Contact Information
W0512 Melville Library
Stony Brook, NY, 11794-3352

Ongoing Research Projects

Evaluation of the relationship between household and business relocation decision-making in post-Sandy New York City (funded by the National Science Foundation)
Analysis of the resiliency planning processes in New York City and New York State since Hurricane Sandy. A book project on the history and current redevelopment plans for Willets Point and Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens. Analysis of sustainability plans and planning processes on Long Island.


Selected Publications

Finn, D. and Brody, J. (Forthcoming, 2014) “Community Design at Middle Age: Idealism and Entrepreneurship Revisited.” Journal of Architectural and Planning Research.

Finn, D. (Forthcoming, 2014) “DIY Urbanism: “Opportunities and Challenges for Planners”.
Journal of Urbanism.

Finn, D. (2014) “Give residents more say in land use and planning.” Op-Ed in The Queens Chronicle. January 30, 2014.

Finn, D. (2013) “New York Neighborhoods Fight Land Grabs: Public Parks Going to
Professional Teams.” Progressive Planning Magazine. 194: Winter, 4-9.

Finn, D. and McCormick, L. (2011) “Urban Climate Change Plans: How Holistic?” Local Environment, 16:4, 397-416.

Finn, D. (2011) “Growing Greener in the City: Open Space Advocacy for Environmental
Justice in Jackson Heights” Progressive Planning Magazine. 187: Spring, 13-16.

Kaza, N., Finn, D., and Hopkins, L.D. (2010) “Updating plans: a historiography of decisions
over time” Journal of Information Technology in Construction, 15, 159-168.

Finn, D. (2008). PlaNYC2030: Does Greener Really Mean Greater? Hunter College Center
For Community Planning & Development, “Sustainability Watch” working paper.

Finn, D., Hopkins, L.D. and Wempe, M. (2007) “The Information System of Plans Approach: Using and Making Plans For Landscape Protection” Journal of Landscape and Urban Planning, 81:1-2, 132-145.

News articles featuring Dr. Finn:


Celebrating the Class of 2020 – SoMAS Convocation

Congratulations to our graduates!  The annual SoMAS Convocation occurred virtually for the first time on Friday, May 22, 2020 on the SoMAS website, Facebook and YouTube. Students gathered with their friends and family and SoMAS faculty, staff, and fellow students to...

SoMAS Faculty Awarded NCAR Early Career Faculty Innovator Award

From Interdisciplinary Program to Examine Potential Coastal Impacts of Climate Change, Natural Hazards by David Hosansky on NCAR & UCAR News, May 16, 2019 The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) is launching a significant new program this summer,...

Highlights From Our Recent Graduates

This Friday, the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences will celebrate our graduating students at Convocation, where 101 undergraduate and 36 graduate students will have their degrees conferred.  Profiles for a few of our graduating students are highlighted below....

Retrospective Banquet 2017

Interim Dean Larry Swanson thanks everyone who joined us at our Retrospective Event: This wonderful event brought us all together to reminisce, reflect, and look hopefully to the future." Many thanks to our colleagues who helped put the evening together. They include:...

EDP Students Present Garden Proposals to FSA

During the Fall 2017 semester, undergraduate students in Dr. Donovan Finn's course EDP 404: Environmental Design Project developed designs for an organic garden located on the Stony Brook University campus. This is the capstone course for students majoring...

SoMAS Convocation 2017

Congratulations to our graduates!  The annual SoMAS Convocation occurred on Friday, May 19, 2017 at the Student Activities Center auditorium. Students gathered with their friends and family and SoMAS faculty and staff to celebrate the completion of their journey at...

SoMAS Celebrates Earthstock 2017

Earthstock, the Stony Brook University annual celebration of Earth Day, has been an annual tradition for years.  This year, in honor of our 50th Anniversary, SoMAS had a very significant presence at the event. On Monday April 17th, New York State Assemblyman Steve...

SoMAS 2016 Retrospective Banquet

Many thanks for those that joined us on December 14, 2016 for our Holiday Retrospective with great food and people. The highlight was when Santa arrived and the little ones all got a ride with him. A special thank you to those who helped organize the event including...

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