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  • Associate Professor
  • American Institute of Certified Planners
  • Geography
807 Patterson Office Tower
(859) 257-4140
LRPCV9_2023.pdf (226.71 KB)
Other Affiliations:
  • Urban Forest Initiative
  • Association of American Geographers (AAG)
  • American Institute of Certified Planners
  • American Planning Association
  • Kentucky Chapter of American Planning Association
  • Historic Preservation (College of Design)
  • UK Natural Resources and Environmental Science

Lynn Roche Phillips

Research Interests:
sprawl, growth management, urban planning, political culture, thoroughbred industry
Geographer, Planner, Tree Lover, Equine Industry enthusiast

As a former practicing urban planner, my principal interests focus around development, land use change, and human-environment impacts.  From my perspective, rural land use change is the most interesting -- farm fields switching crops, greenfield sites being developed, road infrastructure sweeping in, and land uses moving to the new site.  The thoroughbred industry is fascinating, as both a land use and economic engine. Ask me about Keeneland Sales or the vitality of horse racing in the US and the world!

Ask me about urban trees! I am co-lead of the Urban Forest Initiative (UFI), working in small rural communities to address trees as climate warriors (  This involves the connection between land use and climate resiliency across cities, and the effects of structural injustices against powerless groups, including the effects of redlining, disinvestment in poor communities, and racially-motivated ordinances and regulations. UFI received grant funding to explore education of and expansion of urban tree canopy in July 2022 flood-ravaged eastern Kentucky communities, and western KY towns impacted by tornadoes in December 2021. 

Public policy guides land use decisions, including zoning and comprehensive planning.  Maintaining sense of place enhances residents' quality of life and I encourage students to become engaged in local development decisions.  Attending a public meeting -- city council, planning commission, board of adjustment -- is one of my favorite nerdy things to do, especially when travelling domestically or abroad.  My favorite memory:  Attending the opening day session of the New Zealand Parliament, situated in the famous "Beehive" in Wellington. 

In addition to being grandma to two bright and happy South Carolinians, I have also completed more than 107 marathons. It's hard to sit still when there's so much anti-racist and climate resiliency work to do!






B.A. Geography, East Carolina University 1981
M.A. Geography, East Carolina University 1985
Ph.D. Department of Urban and Public Affairs, University of Louisville, 2013. Concentration: city and regional planning


Lynn Roche-Phillips is a Special Title Series Teaching Professor whose areas of research include city and regional planning, the geography of the thoroughbred industry, land use and social justice, and geographic education.  Classes taught include Global Inequalities, Lands and People of the Non-Western World, Cities of the World, Intro to Urban Planning, Urban Planning and Sustainability, and Environmental Management.  Lynn has also taught "Community 101," a course intended to familiarize UK students with key issues and key stakeholders in Lexington and Fayette County. 

Prior to entering academia, Lynn worked 17 years as a practicing planner with a focus on land use and environmental planning. She worked as a county planning director and planning liaison for the US Marine Corps at Cherry Point, NC.  Lynn is especially interested in land use planning, models of growth management, walkable communities, and alternatives to Euclidean zoning. From 2003-2013, she served on the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Planning Commission and was its Secretary when she stepped down.

Lynn is known for her work as an instructor.  She was selected for the 2018 Provost’s Outstanding Faculty Teaching Award, the 2016-2017 College of Arts and Sciences Outstanding Teaching Award, and has been named seven times as the Geography Department’s Instructor of the Year.  Her most prestigious recogniton is having been presented the 2018 Excellence in Teaching distinction by the Southeastern Division of The Association of American Geographers.  

In addition to being locally engaged on land development policy, Lynn coordinates internships within the Department of Geography and is faculty sponsor for the Sigma Chapter of Gamma Theta Upsilon, the international geographical honor society.   She is also a Steering Committee member for the College of Agriculture, Food, and the Environment's Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences program, and serves proudly as a member of the Student Veterans Faculty Learning Community.  Lynn and her husband Jonathan, a physical geographer who recently retired from the Geography Department, have two beautiful, brilliant, and loving grandchildren who are the most darling and talented kids in the world.  Her hobbies include marathoning and swimming.

Courses Taught:

  • GEO160 -- Lands and Peoples of the Non-Western World: This is a partly topical, partly regional class of the people and places of Africa and Asia. Cultural sensitivities and development issues are emphasized
  • GEO 161 -- Global Inequalities:  The Universal Declaration of Human Rights provides the framework for considering spatial and cultural differences around the world. 
  • GEO 222 -- Cities of the World:  This class addresses global urbanization patterns, the influence of colonization on city form, commonalities between cities across continents, and unique attributes of select global cities.
  • GEO235 -- Environmental Management and Policy: Wonder what your government is doing to clean up polluted air, water and land? How is the environment adversely affected by everyday activities, like automobile driving and washing clothes? This class identifies and explains the physical and political complexities behind environmental issues, and the effectiveness of laws like the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act and the National Environmental Policy Act, in managing our country's natural resources.
  • GEO285 -- Introduction to Planning: What is the difference between planning and zoning? Why doesn't Fayette County have many mobile home parks? What is a PDR and why should you care? Is there a connection between transportation and development? This class is a cursory look at the many facets of urban and regional planning and considers the linkages between quality of life for the public and the role of the professional planner.
  • GEO485G -- Urban Planning and Sustainability: Part 2 of GEO285. Course involves detailed application of principles learned in GEO285 to explore sustainability in a local context. Prerequisite: GEO285 or consent of instructor.
  • GEO 741 -- Teaching Practicum - Course trains future university instructors in the context of the neoliberal public university, Generation Z, and online teaching substitutes.
Graduate Training

Dissertation: "Land Use Controls, Equine Landscapes and the Role of Political Culture in Managing Sprawl Development" Advisor: H. V. Savitch

Selected Publications:

Phillips, Lynn R. and Priyanka Ghosh 2017.  “Rural Land Use Inventory:  Fayette County, Kentucky” technical report prepared for The Center for Economic Development in Kentucky, College of Agriculture, Food and the Environment, University of Kentucky doi: DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.35757.38882.

Phillips, Lynn R. 2016.  A Comparative Study of Growth Management Effectiveness and Urban Sprawl in Two Thoroughbred Landscapes” Applied Geography doi:10.1016/j.apgeog.2015.09.002).