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Keith Christensen Portrait

Keith Christensen

Assistant Professor

•    CPD Faculty Fellow
•    Assistant professor, Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning Department
•    Licensed Landscape Architect in Utah and Wyoming
•    Research scientist, Center for Persons with Disabilities
•    Director, Beyond Access program
•    Assistant Extension Landscape Architect, Utah State University Extension
•    One doctoral student is employed in Christensen’s CPD-related research; another doctoral student is gaining practical experience.

Prior to joining the faculty of the Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning Department, Keith Christensen worked as a research scientist with the CPD. There he explored the relationship between design and social access, social values, human rights and social justice. Those interests are continued in his current research on how different types of play environments affect the play of all children. While an accessible playground may allow children to physically use play equipment, he is interested in finding out how different environments affect social interaction.

Another research project involves making computer models that take people with disabilities into account as they plan for the emergency evacuation of a space. Currently, architects use computer modeling to simulate how evacuation would proceed and to find the best building plan to facilitate it. Unfortunately, most models assume that all people have the same ability to move. The research of Christensen and doctoral student Matthew Manley takes a more realistic approach, introducing people of all abilities into the model. This study is supported in part by the Transportation Research Board.

Keith developed and continues to direct Beyond Access, a technical assistance program on inclusive play environments for children with disabilities. The program works with industry partners, consumers and advocates to create inclusive play environments which recognize the child’s right to equal play, full participation and independence.

Recently, Keith worked with the CPD’s Interdisciplinary Training Division to conduct a study of the impact of neighborhood characteristics on the physical activity of adults with disabilities, with a special emphasis on how outdoor recreation affects wellness.

His research has been published in the Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation and the Journal of Architectural and Planning Research.