Great Problems, Great Minds Seminar Series: Achieving Green Space Equity—Projects, Policies, and Systems Change



Join the Social Sciences Colloquium at the Department of Social Sciences for this Great Problems, Great Minds seminar series event featuring guest speaker Alessandro Rigolon, an associate professor in the Department of City and Metropolitan Planning at the University of Utah, who will give a presentation on “Achieving Green Space Equity: Projects, policies, and Systems Change.” This seminar will take place on Wednesday, January 24, from 5–6:15 p.m. over Zoom.


Urban green spaces—including parks, tree canopy, and green infrastructure—have numerous benefits for human health, climate adaptation, and economic development. Yet research shows that, in the United States and other countries, low-income communities of color have lower access to quality green spaces than more privileged groups. Scholars and activists have framed these inequities as an environmental justice issue. This talk discusses green space equity, including its definition, causes, and relationships with health outcomes. This talk then presents a framework for addressing green space inequities that provides examples of successful initiatives to advance green space equity via projects, policies, and systems change. This framework shows how different organizations across multiple disciplines can play a role in the struggle for green space equity. Furthermore, this presentation argues that addressing green space inequities requires complementary approaches, including projects, policies, and systems change. Yet upstream approaches that focus on policy and systems change can be more effective in the long term.


Alessandro Rigolon’s research focuses on environmental justice issues related to urban green space and their impacts on health equity. His current work includes three main areas: policy determinants of (in)equitable park provision; drivers and resistance to gentrification fostered by new green spaces (i.e., green gentrification); and the public health impacts of urban green space on low-income communities of color. His research has been published in leading planning and urban studies journals such as the Journal of the American Planning Association, Landscape and Urban Planning, Urban Studies, Cities, and Journal of Planning Education and Research. Funding for his research has come from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, the Center for Climate-Smart Transportation, the Utah Department of Transportation, Los Angeles County Regional Park and Open Space District, The Trust for Public Land, and the Salt Lake City agency. Rigolon has earned a Ph.D. in design and planning from the University of Colorado Denver, and a Ph.D. degree, a master’s degree, and a bachelor’s degree in architecture from the University of Bologna.

“Great Problems Great Minds Seminar Series: Achieving Green Space Equity: Projects, policies, and Systems Change” is part of Social Sciences Colloquium of the Great Problems, Great Minds seminar series which explores the major problems facing humanity as we move into the heart of the twenty-first century. To see the full schedule and videos from previous events, visit the seminar series page. For more information, contact Associate Professor of Social Sciences Hao Huang at

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