Browse more profiles
Meet Professor Connie Ozawa
Meet Professor Connie Ozawa

Professor of Urban Studies and Planning

Helping communities make decisions

Ph.D. Urban Planning, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
M.A. Geography, University of Hawaii
Certificate in Population Studies, East-West Center and the University of Hawaii
B.A. Environmental Studies, University of California, Berkeley


  • Associate professor of Urban Studies and Planning
  • Co-Director of the PSU-China Innovations in Urbanization Program

Collaborative decision making, decision making, negotiation, environmental protection and resource management

  • USP 313 Urban Planning: Environmental Issues
  • USP 510 Multiparty Mediation
  • USP 510 Collaborative Governance for Planners and Public Managers
  • USP 541 Dynamics of Planning Practice
  • USP 558 Planning Workshop
  • USP 571/671 Environmental Policy
  • USP 577/677 Urban Environmental Management
  • USP 584/684 Negotiation in the Public Sector

Consensual Procedures and the Role of Science in Public Decision Making, 1988.


Office: Urban Center, room 370 R
Phone: (503) 725.5126
Professor Ozawa's website

Professor Ozawa researches and teaches about the ways in which information is integrated into public decision making in the areas of environmental policy and resource management. She directs the Toulan School of Urban Studies and Planning and co-directs the PSU-China Innovations in Urbanization Program.

Dr. Ozawa thinks of PSU as a “university without walls,” and is proud of the Toulan School faculty’s engagement in local planning issues with global relevance. As co-director of the China program, she coordinates opportunities for scholars and students to share planning and place-based knowledge across language and geographic boundaries.

In the classroom, Dr. Ozawa teaches environmental policy and management, planning theory and practice, and negotiation and dispute resolution. Dr. Ozawa helps students hone skills in mediation and collaborative decision making through dynamic multiparty negotiation exercises. The optimism of students and their insatiable appetite for challenging old ways of doing things drives her enjoyment of teaching.

Dr. Ozawa edited the Portland Edge: Challenges and Successes in Growing Communities (2004) and authored Recasting Science: Consensus-Based Procedures in Public Policy Making (1991). Her more recent book chapters and journal articles examine the relationship between process and relationships in community resilience and collaborative governance.

Integrating theory and practice, Dr. Ozawa has led negotiation training workshops with practitioners at the Portland Development Commission and the Housing Authority of Portland. And she served as a bargaining team member for the American Association of University Professors during three rounds of contract negotiations. Prior to arriving at PSU in 1994, she taught as adjunct faculty at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and was an associate at the Program on Negotiation at the Harvard Law School.

What Professor Ozawa has to say...

BEST PARTS OF JOB: Being surrounded by creative, energetic, and smart people who are genuinely concerned about the quality of life for all people in cities. It is the ideas and actions of these people that invigorate me and feed my optimism.

UNIQUENESS OF THE TOULAN SCHOOL: The Toulan School attracts non-conventional and innovative thinkers who want to put their ideas into action, not just get paid big bucks. Finding such individuals among each class is a rewarding venture.

THOUGHTS ON TEACHING IN PORTLAND: Access to decision makers, movers and shakers; the openness of this region’s people, lack of arrogance, and the lack of rigid institutional/organizational structures.

VISION FOR THE TOULAN SCHOOL: To become one of the five top resources in the world for those who are committed to creating strong communities from the bottom up.

HOW I SUPPORT THAT VISION: I’m an observer and a supporter. My interest is in helping to make the case for inclusionary decision making processes because that is the formula for building a technically wise and politically just future.

OVERARCHING INTERESTS IN THE FIELD: Understanding how to integrate different types of information and knowledge in ways that build strong working relationships among the actors involved. Our understanding of any given system is incomplete. We all have parts of the whole picture. We need to work together to create a shared understanding of the world. More to the point, even our best knowledge is insufficient for predicting the future and how we might best respond to future conditions. Therefore, building strong relationships among individuals, organizations and institutions is a critical element in strengthening our ability to play an active role in creating our future.

APPROACH TO TEACHING: Participatory, experiential, intuitive

WHAT STUDENTS SHOULD TAKE AWAY: The realization that opportunities to gain information and knowledge that will help solve the particular problem they are struggling with are all around them. Our challenge is to see the connections between different problems, the common themes that help to illuminate effective pathways for analysis, and co-create solutions.

WHAT I APPRECIATE ABOUT STUDENTS: Their energy and optimism and their belief that they can help make things better.

ADVICE FOR PROSPECTIVE STUDENTS: Identify faculty with whom you want to work.

FAVORITE URBAN PLACES: Boston – Paris – Portland!  A beautiful natural setting with water views and standout architecture (less so in Portland…). Busy streetlife. Range of urban scapes – one can walk from one neighborhood to another vastly different. Good food!

FAVORITE NON-URBAN PLACES: Any place with swimmable waters and white, sandy beaches. The ocean’s a reminder about the vastness of our planet and how inconsequential we are individually, but what devastation we can cause with careless actions and behaviors. The beauty and mental relaxation coastlines provide is unsurpassed.

DREAM FOR URBAN AREAS: Peace among a myriad of cultures.

The Tao of Physics, by Fritjof Capra
The Closing Circle, by Barry Commoner
The Hidden Dimension, by Edward Hall
The Evolution of Cooperation, by Robert Axelrod
PREFERRED GRADING INSTRUMENT: A black lead pencil. So I can erase!.

DREAM VACATION: Water, snorkeling, swimming, warmth, family and friends.