Skip to main content

Secondary navigation:

John H. Spiers

post-doctoral fellow

Office: Stokes Hall, Room S348


Curriculum Vitae


Ph.D., History, Boston College (May 2013)
M.A., History, Clemson University (2007)
B.A., History and Secondary Social Sciences, Longwood University (2005)

Research and Teaching Interests

U.S. environmental and urban history; suburbanization; civic engagement and social activism; land use planning; politics and public policy

Academic Profile

My work focuses on metropolitan America in the 20th and early 21st centuries. I am interested in how the tensions between growth/development and environmental protection are reconciled through political decision-making and land use planning, with particular attention to the work of civic and social actors. Currently, I am preparing a book manuscript entitled Greening Suburbia: Politics, Social Action, and Environmental Protection in Metropolitan America, the first major study of its kind to examine the forty-year period since the National Environmental Policy Act became law in 1970.


Managing Growth: Suburbanization and Environmental Protection in Metropolitan Washington Since 1970


“Landscaping the Garden City: Transportation, Utilities, and Parks in Newton, Massachusetts, 1874-1915,” Historical Geography 39 (2011): 248-274.

“‘Planning with People’: Urban Renewal in Boston’s Washington Park, 1950-1970,” Journal of Planning History 8, no. 3 (Aug. 2009): 221-247.

Selected Presentations

  • “Balancing Aesthetics and Ecology: Suburban Development and the Preservation of the Burling Tract,” paper accepted for the Organization of American Historians Annual Meeting (April 2013).
  • “Where Have All the Forests Gone? A Case of Land Preservation in Suburban Washington,” paper presented at Environmental History Seminar, Massachusetts Historical Society (Jan. 2013).
  • “Slavery, Freedom, and the Cultural Landscape: Balancing Restoration Goals for Monocacy National Battlefield,” paper presented at Workshop on History and Values in Ecological Restoration, Colorado College (June 2012).
  • "Paying to Shop: Race, Retail, and the Environmental Costs of Commercial Development,” paper presented at Race & Retail: Consumer Culture, Economic Citizenship, and Power, Center for Race and Ethnicity, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey (May 2012).
  • “Rural Land in Suburbia: Public Decision-making and the Creation of the Agricultural Reserve of Montgomery County, Maryland,” paper presented at Social Science Historical Association 2011 Conference, Boston, MA (Nov. 2011).
  • “Sprawl Blocker or Rural Amenity?  The Agricultural Reserve of Montgomery County, Maryland,” paper presented at the Workshop for the History of the Environment, Agriculture, Technology, and Sciences (WHEATS), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Oct. 2011).
  • “The Long and Winding Road: A History of the Intercounty Connector, 1950-2006,” paper presented at the Montgomery County History Conference, Montgomery College - Germantown [Maryland] (Jan. 2011).