Professor Michael A. Krassa, Ph.D.
Professor & Chair Emeritus of Human Dimensions of Environmental Systems (HDES), and
Professor Emeritus in SDEP, Political Science, NRES, and the Center for Global Studies at the University of Illinois
Avriel Shull Clinical Professor and Interdisciplinary Scholar in the Graduate College at Purdue University.

tel  217.300.4337
fax  217.244.5712

Professional Biography.

Professor Krassa currently works in the University of Illinois' Landscape and Human Health Laboratory directed by Professor Ming Kuo. He also teaches occasional graduate courses at Purdue University in the Human Dimensions Research Program and at the University of Illinois in the Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences department.Book Jackets

He joined the University of Illinois in 1984 after receiving a PhD from Washington University. He was chair of the Human Dimensionsof Environmental Systems program from 2004-2014. In 2014 he became an emeritus faculty member in natural resources and environmental sciences, political science, the social dimensions of environmental policy program, Human Dimensions of Environmental Systems, and the Center for Global Studies.. He has held past appointments with UIUC’s Sociology department, American University, and the University of Cambridge. He was an affiliate of the Merriam Laboratory for Analytic Political Research, the Institute of Government, and the Survey Research Laboratory at UIUC, and served as the Director of Graduate Study from 1992-2002.

At the university he served at various times on the Faculty Senate and the Educational Policy Committee as well as the University Civic Outreach Committee.  In recent years he also has served on the University Student Discipline Committee, and the Conference on Conduct Governance; and chaired the LAS Courses and Curriculum Committee and the Committee on Student Internships. He also is the Illinois coordinator for the social science program in Malta, and the acting director of the Civic Engagement Program.   He remains the campus coordinator of the interdisciplinary Environment and Behavior Workgroup and serves as the chair of the Human Dimensions of Environmental Systems, which consumes most of his time.

Outside the University setting, he served as the chair of the Council on Urban Habitat's Committee on Social and Political Impacts and is a member of the British Royal Commission for Poundbury. He is a nonpartisan political consultant and a member of IAPC and AAPC ; he has been a campaign advisor to numerous congressional, senatorial, and gubernatorial candidates; he has worked on issues of neighborhood development, and given expert testimony in legislative redistricting issues and voting rights cases. He testified before Congress on election reform. He is a registered lobbyist who has worked on behalf of the ADA, the LWW, the CCB, the LGA, the NGA, the NAC, the LAANC, the AAUP, and other nonprofit organizations.

He has lectured at Cambridge. Berkeley, Chicago, Princeton, Kings College, and the London School of Economics. He served as Director of Graduate Studies for the UI political science department from 1992-2002.  He has served on the editorial boards of university presses and journals, including the Journal of Politics, the American Political Science Review, and the American Journal of Political Science. Professor Krassa has published in journals such as the American Political Science Review, the American Journal of Political Science, Social Networks, American Politics Review, Contexts, the American Sociological Review, Political Behavior, Contemporary Anthropology, and the Journal of Mathematical Sociology.  He has authored texts on utopian settlements, the social and political context of friendships, and on the interrelations among social networks, the physical environment, civic engagement, and citizen satisfaction. He is author of several textbooks including Understanding American Government, a basic introduction to American government for high school students and a college level text, American Democracy: From founding philosophy to contentious implementation, which focuses on the successes and failures in the ways that America has implemented democratic ideals and the ideas of the Founders.

His current research examines the impact on people and politics of the changing character of social interaction in modern societies. It explores how social connections are formed and how they influence political opinions, attitudes, and the roles individuals take in government and civic life.  The main emphasis of his recent work explores how the physical environment shapes social networks and individual attitudes toward other citizens, government, and one's attachment to place. In Fight versus Flight he examined how the physical realm shapes the individual's willingness to participate in neighborhood based collective action efforts, and in Public Space, Community Engagement, and Social Groups he demonstrates how the configuration of space shapes the kind of impact that formal and informal groups can have on civic engagement.

Research Interests.

  • The interdependence of social sustainability, political sustainability, and environmental sustainability
  • Neighborhood design and the local business climate
  • New Urbanism
  • The civic life of the neighborhood;
  • Neighborhood design and social networks
  • Civic engagement and democracy;
  • Suburbanization and sustainable suburban development;
  • The role of the Public Square and Public Space in civic life;
  • The impact of architecture, urban form, and the physical environment on political and social life;
  • Social dimensions of human health

Specialized Teaching Interests.

  • The impact of the local environment on human behaviors, attitudes, and health.
  • Zoning, development, urban form, and civic life.
  • Civic engagement.
  • Social ecology.
  • Holistic sustainability.
  • Architecture and politics.
  • Human dimensions of environmental systems.
  • Quantitative methods.
  • Qualitative methods.
  • also see Courses Taught for a complete listing of courses offered including survey, introductory, and seminar courses in various disciplines and departments at UIUC and elsewhere.

In the news.

  • Article in Psychology Today about how presidential systems tend to create citizens who are less happy overall than nations with parliamentary systems.
  • Interview with Τάνια Μποζανίνου for TO BHMA, Οι πρώτες 100 ημέρες του νέου πλανητάρχη, Nov 20, 2016.
  • Interview with Ritchie Bernardo of WalletHub on the 2016 US primaries.
  • US News and World Report and The Conversation. Direct democracy may be the key to happier American democracy. With Ben Radcliff. Discusses how states that use initiative, referndum, and recall have citizens who are happier with their government and laws and policies that benefit citizen life satisfaction. Edited and expanded versions of this piece have appeared in Psychology Today and Yes! magazine, in addition to outlets like  SwissInfo, Power 2 People, and The Turkish Sun, among other places. For something that nobody read, it got a lot of reprints! Who'd have guessed?
  • Psychology Today,
    "What's better at creating happiness-- the people or the market?"  Cowritten with Ben Radcliff, this is just a reformulation of our piece in "The Conversation" and "The Washington Post," both listed below.
  • Newsweek.
    "What makes us happier? government or the free market? Big data from around the world points to a single, clear answer to the perennial question."  With Benjamin Radcliff, Sept 11, 2015.
  • The Conversation.
    Why "Small Government" may be bad for "the Pursuit of Happiness."  With Benjamin Radcliff (U. Notre Dame)
  • Peoria Journal Star, Op-Ed
    Online on 11/6/2014 (print on Sunday, Nov 9, 2014), argues that the minimum wage helps the middle class too.
  • Talking Points Memo OpEd.
    October 21, 2014. Ben Radcliff and I show that a rising minimum wage lifts all boats, helping all people in a nation thrive, not just those receiving the minimum wage. The minimum wage has a huge impact on the middle class too.
  • Washington Post OpEd
    Ben Radcliff and I wrote a column in the Washington Post (May 15, 2014) about how the minimum wage influences the well being of a nation's citizens entitled Does a higher minimum wage make people happier? In short we ask, even if there are economic inefficiences in setting a minimum wage, should a democracy of the people enact one if it makes the entire society better off?
  • SueThy Neighbor
    Sue Thy Neighbor is a piece by Julie Halpert in the Ann Arbor Observer that mentions Michael Krassa's work and an observation from one of his courses.

Miscellaneous information (just to give you an idea of my research).

  • Networks and Neighborhoods. Presentation on research about how urban form influences social networks.  Slight variations were presented at Human Dimensions of Environmental Systems, the Builders Council, and the Conference of Illinois Mayors. These works were primarily dated 2005 and 2006.
  • A Quick Tour of our research sites that fall in the “new urbanism” category.  This was for a class I teach (Neighborhoods and Politics), just to give them an idea of what new urban neighborhoods look like. Of course, our research also includes many neighborhoods that are not “new urban,” including some quite old neighborhoods and very new neighborhoods. These are just the new urban neighborhoods we look at. From 2012.
  • Better Together: Lively Main Streets, Vital Neighborhoods, and Engaging Public Spaces.  Presentation on the mutual interdependence of neighborhoods, local commerce, and public spaces.  This work is an attempt to place past works into an integrated theory.  Cornelius O’Brien Conference, 2008
  • The Catholic Voter Myth: Theology and ideology in the voting behavior of Catholics.  Coauthored with Don Davison, 2010.