Dorothy Ibes

Senior Lecturer, Environmental Science and Policy Program and Center for Geospatial Analysis

Office: ISC 2135
Phone: (757) 221-4440

Areas of Specialization

Urban parks and public space, ecotherapy/mental health and nature engagement, Campus Park Prescriptions (Park Rx).


Ph.D., Urban Geography, School of Geographical Science & Urban Planning, Arizona State University

M.S., Environmental Geography, Dept. of Geography, Texas State University

B.A., Journalism and Documentary Film, School of Journalism and Mass Comm., University of Minnesota—Twin Cities

Research and Teaching

Dr. Ibes’s research promotes the evolution of healthy, sustainable, and vibrant cities and college campuses. To accomplish this, Ibes narrows in on a key element of healthy, sustainable, livable, and vibrant towns and cities: parks and greenspace. These are vital and treasured public spaces where human and natural systems converge and interact, yet their role in sustainable cities on campuses has been undermined by inadequate research, planning, design, and management that fails to acknowledge the unique challenges and opportunities these areas present. Many park spaces are underutilized and mismanaged, though these public amenities are key to improving the mental, physical, and social health of residents and visitors, as well as the sustainability of urban and campus ecosystems. Access to these and other green spaces in cities and on college campuses has proven effective in the treatment and prevention of depression, stress, anxiety, obesity, diabetes, and other mental and physical health conditions. Even small green spaces have been hailed for their ability to support and protect critical cultural and environmental ecosystem services. Necessarily, this work is deeply interdisciplinary, integrating both quantitative and qualitative methods and theory from human-environment geography, public health, urban planning and design, sustainability science, environmental justice, urban ecology, and urban ecotherapy.

Dr. Ibes directs the Parks Research Lab (PRL) at William & Mary. PRL conducts interdisciplinary, use-inspired, community-focused parks and public space research. Founded in 2009, PRL focuses on three key operations: 1) reviewing research on the benefits of urban and campus nature, 2) conducting research on the therapeutic benefits of nature to contribute to this growing knowledge base, and 3) applying theory to the development of local projects and programs on campuses and in cities, aimed at encouraging people to spend more time outdoors. Student researchers and interns from William and Mary are the creative, driving force behind PRL operations. Dr. Ibes has advised over 30 undergraduate students in the Parks Lab from Environmental Science & Policy, Biology, Geology, Public Health, Psychology, Neuroscience, Government, Film & Media Studies. Current projects include Campus Park Rx, the Campus Greenspace Map, the My Outdoor Campus campaign, RESET trails project, and an extended documentary website and film, the “Ecotherapy Project,” in collaboration with filmmaker and William & Mary lecturer, Tanya Stadelmann.

At The College, Dr. Ibes teaches Science Communication, The Science & Experience of Ecotherapy, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Parks & Public Health Research, Campus Park Rx, and other courses for Environmental Science & Policy.

Selected Publications

Ibes, D, Isabel Hirama, & Carolyn Schuyler (2018) Greenspace Ecotherapy Interventions: The Stress-Reduction Potential of Green Micro-Breaks Integrating Nature Connection and Mind-Body Skills. Ecopsychology 10 (3), 137-150.

Ibes, DC. JL Shawler, LR Hart-Moynihan, AL Schwartz, & LK Barbera. (2018). Senior-Friendly Parks? Actionable Steps for Enhancing Use, Satisfaction, and Access by Older Adults. Recreation, Parks, and Tourism in Public Health 2, 5-33

Ibes, Dorothy C. (2016) Integrating ecosystem services into urban planning and design. Cities and the Environment. Vol. 9: Iss. 1.

Ibes, Dorothy C. (2015) A multi-dimensional classification and equity analysis of an urban park system: A novel methodology and case study application. Landscape and Urban Planning. 137: 122-137. (selected as “Editor’s Choice” for Volume 137)

Ibes, Dorothy C. (2014) Sustainable urban park systems. Cities and the Environment (7)2: 1-30.

Larson, Kelli L., Dorothy C. Ibes, and Elizabeth A. Wentz. (2012) Water Resource Consumption at the Neighborhood-Level: Perceived Versus Actual Water Scarcity Risks in Phoenix, AZ. Book chapter in Geospatial Approaches to Urban Water Resources in the Springer Series: Geotechnologies and the Environment: Planning and Socioeconomic Applications.

Ibes, Dorothy, C. (2011) American environmentalism and the city: An ecosystem services perspective. Cities and the Environment 4(1): 1-22.

Turner, V. Kelly & Dorothy C. Ibes. (2011) The impact of homeowners associations on residential water demand in Phoenix, Arizona. Urban Geography 32(8): 1167-1188.

Larson, Kelli, Dorothy Ibes, and David White. (2011) Gendered perspectives on water scarcity risks: A tripartite approach. Environment and Behavior 43(3): 415-438.