Robert B. Olshansky
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign,Emeritus Professor
Robert B. Olshansky, FAICP


PhD, University of California-Berkeley, 1987

Ongoing and upcoming research

  • Theories of post-disaster recovery planning and management
  • International comparative studies of post-disaster community relations

Selected Publications:

Personal profile:
Robert B. Olshansky, Ph.D., FAICP, is Professor Emeritus of Urban and Regional Planning, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he taught for 28 years.  His teaching and research have covered land use and environmental planning, with an emphasis on planning for natural hazards.  He has published extensively on post-disaster recovery planning, community relocation following disasters, planning and policy for earthquake risks, hillside planning and landslide policy, and environmental impact assessment.

Professor Olshansky has studied recovery planning and management after numerous major disasters around the world, including ones in the U.S., Japan, China, Taiwan, India, Indonesia, New Zealand, and Haiti. His research has been funded by the National Science Foundation and Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, and in 2004-05 and 2012-13 he was a Visiting Professor at the Disaster Prevention Research Institute at Kyoto University. Along with Laurie Johnson he co-authored Opportunity in Chaos: Rebuilding after the 1994 Northridge and 1995 Kobe Earthquakes (available online)Clear as Mud: Planning for the Rebuilding of New Orleans (APA Press, 2010), and After Great Disasters: An In-depth Analysis of How Six Countries Managed Community Recovery (available online, Lincoln Institute, 2017). In 2014 he co-edited a special issue of the Journal of the American Planning Association on Planning for Disaster Recovery.

Over the past decade, Professor Olshansky has given over 35 invitational and keynote lectures throughout the US, Canada, China, Japan, Taiwan, India, and Indonesia. In 2015-16, he was selected as the Distinguished Lecturer for the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI).

He is a Fellow of the American Institute of Certified Planners, and he has taken several leadership roles with the American Planning Association (APA), including chair of the FAICP selection committee, member of the national awards jury, and member of the editorial board of the APA Journal.

His current research focuses on the process of community relocation in response to natural hazards, and he is researching scores of such cases in North America and Asia. He has been working with the Center for a New Economy regarding recovery and relocation issues in Puerto Rico, and he is leading an Earthquake Engineering Research Institute team to investigate post-tsunami relocation in Palu, Sulawesi, Indonesia. Currently located in the San Francisco Bay area, he has given numerous guest lectures at area universities, and he is a member of the Tsunami Technical Advisory Panel for the California Geological Survey.