Dana Taplin, an environmental psychologist with a background in urban planning, has an interest in the history, design, uses and meanings of parks and other public spaces.
Dr. Taplin has worked with the ethnography program of the National Park Service to study park resources from the perspective of their ethnographic significance to different visitor constituencies and “traditionally associated” groups and has just completed an ethnographic overview and assessment for the Staten Island unit of Gateway National Recreation Area.
Dana has conducted research on rail trails, urban parks, schoolyard playgrounds and heritage landscapes. He is interested in personal experience of public spaces and in the ways that experience enters into a person’s life space. His work investigates how the histories of public spaces figure in their present day uses and meanings and how different stakeholders struggle to define authentic interpretations of historical significance.
Dr. Taplin has collaborated with other members of the research group for over 20 years in field research, technical reports, conference talks and writings; including a 2005 book, Rethinking Urban Parks, and a book in development on beaches. He also works as a program evaluator and directs the Theory of Change program modeling practice at ActKnowledge, a social enterprise based in the Center for Human Environments at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.