Bonnie J. Johnson, FAICP

Bonnie Johnson Headshot
  • Professor
  • School of Public Affairs & Administration

Contact Info

Snow Hall, Room 207


Bonnie J. Johnson, PhD, FAICP is Director and Professor in the University of Kansas’ Urban Planning Program within the School of Public Affairs and Administration.  She teaches planning theory, land use, and politics, planning, and administration courses.  Research focuses on the profession of city planning and the roles and ethics of being a planner. Contributions to the field include the use of new media for neighborhood organizing, creation of the civic bureaucracy model, groundbreaking research on staff reports, and comparative studies of public service professions and their codes of ethics. Before returning to school for her doctorate, Johnson was a practicing city planner for eight years designing citizen engagement processes for neighborhood, corridor, and city/countywide plans.  While at the City of Liberty, Missouri, she was project manager for Liberty’s award-winning Blueprint for Liberty: Land Use Plan.  The plan was awarded the American Planning Association’s “Outstanding Planning Award” for the best plan in the country. She is also the elected Professional Development Officer for the Kansas Chapter of the American Planning Association and member of the Planning Accreditation Board representing the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning. She was inducted into the AICP College of Fellows in 2020.


My search for effective planning practices results in research projects drawing from my own experiences as a practicing planner and my educational background in the related fields of urban planning, political science, and public administration. All three fields seek to understand how elected officials, public servants, and citizens interact with each other, governmental structures, and bureaucratic agencies to pursue the common good. I am interested in the impact of institutions (elections, types of city government, organizations), culture (organizational cultures, professional cultures, social capital, and civic capital), and individuals (city planners, public administrators, elected officials, citizens) on public policy. This agenda results in research on civic bureaucracy, planning practice, media and planning, and public service.

Research interests:

  • Civic bureaucracy
  • Planning practice
  • Media and planning
  • Public service
  • Codes of ethics, Professionalism


My approach to teaching and to the profession of city planning can be summed up with a quote from Tony Hiss about Baltimore's Peabody Library reading room, of which he writes: "knowledge seems so abundantly available that you feel almost the same kind of gratitude you feel when you stoop to drink from a public fountain: The city doesn't want me to go thirsty." I want to instill in my students, who are future city planners, the commitment to caring about citizens and creating cities which provide for the needs of citizens as typified by the well-placed public drinking fountain. In my classes, I do not want my students "to go thirsty."

Teaching interests:

  • City planning and politics
  • Sustainability
  • Land Use
  • Site Planning
  • History of planning
  • Theory of planning
  • Planning processes

Selected Publications

Johnson, B. & Kisler, S. (2023, June). Creating Staff Reports With Pizzaz. Zoning Practice.

Johnson, B. J. (2017, March). The Better Staff Report. Planning, 83(3).

Halegoua, G., & Johnson, B. J. (2020). Seeing Like a Neighbor: Rethinking Neighborhoods as Service-oriented Communities. Urban Affairs Review. 57(6):1730-1758.  (Refereed)

Alobaydi, D., Ph.D., Johnson, B. J., & Templin, J. (2019). Iraq’s tough governance setting: Examining the importance of self-sacrifice over institutions to public service motivation. International Journal of Contemporary Iraqi Studies, 13(2-3), 181-203.  (Refereed)

Johnson, B. (2019). Are you thinking what I’m thinking? Using the Sociology of Professions to Compare the Public Values in Public Administration and Urban Planning Literatures. In The Palgrave Handbook of the Public Servant. London, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

Johnson, B. (2018). Planners as Leaders: Finding Their Comfort Zone. International Journal of Public Leadership, 14(3), 155-178. (Refereed)

Johnson, B. J., Peck, M. K., FAICP, & Preston, S., FAICP. (2017). City Managers have Ethics too? Comparing Planning and City Management Codes of Ethics. Journal of the American Planning Association, 83(2), 183-201. (Refereed)

Johnson, B. J., & Gore, N. (2016). What do the Professions "Profess"? Comparing Architecture and Planning Codes of Ethics. Architectural Science Review, 59(6). doi:10.1080/00038628.2016.1194255 (Refereed)

Johnson, B. J., & Lyles, W. (2016). The Unexamined Staff Report: Results From an Evaluation of a National Sample. Journal of the American Planning Association, 82(1), 22-36.  (Refereed)

Selected Presentations

Johnson, B.J. (2022). Finding the Art in the Art and Science of Staff Reports. Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning, Toronto, Canada. (International)

Strassle, A. & Johnson, B.J. (2021). Planning as a Queer Inclusive Project: An Examination of LGBTQ+ Community Centers in the Planning Process and Impacts on Public Health. Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning, Virtual. (International)

Johnson, B.J. (2020). The Avant-garde Staff Report: Innovation in the Every Day. Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning, Virtual. (International)

Johnson, B. J., Peck, M. K., FAICP, & Preston, S., FAICP. (2019). Who Does it Better? Looking for Innovations in Public Service Professions’ Codes of Ethics. Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning, Greenville, SC. (International)

Johnson, B. (2019). Planning for Real. UK Planning Research Conference, Liverpool, England. (International)

Johnson, B. J., & Halegoua, G. (2018). The Meaning of ‘Neighbor’ in the Neighborhood: Rethinking Neighborhoods as Service-oriented Communities. Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning, Buffalo, NY. (International)

Johnson, B. (2018, April 11). Is your Public Values Universe, My Public Values Universe? Comparing the Public Values in Public Administration and Urban Planning Literatures. International Research Society for Public Management, Edinburgh, Scotland. (International)

Johnson, B. (2017, October 14). Should Planners Lead? Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning, Denver, CO. (International)

Awards & Honors

Urban Planning Students, School of Public Affair & Administration, & KU Endowment create the “Bonnie Johnson Professional Development Fund” for urban planning students (2023)

Faculty Teacher of the Year Award, School of Public Affairs and Administration, University of Kansas, selected by students (2022)

Byrd Graduate Educator Award Nomination, University of Kansas, proposed by students (2022)

FAICP Star Planner Spotlight (Fall 2022), American Planning Association Small Town & Rural Planning Division Newsletter.

Fellow of the American Institute of Certified Planners (FAICP) Inducted 2020

Senior Administrative Fellows program, University of Kansas  (2018 – 2019)

Integrated Arts Research Fellowship, Spencer Museum of Art (May 2018 - July 2018).