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WVU Institute for Public Affairs
316 Woodburn Hall
P.O. Box 6317
Morgantown, WV 26506-6317
Phone: 304-293-5432
Fax: 304-293-8644
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Affiliated Organizations

The West Virginia Association of Counties

County Commissioners’ Association of WV

West Virginia Municipal League

About the Director


Kevin M. Leyden (Ph.D., Iowa 1992), is a Professor of Political Science and Director of West Virginia University’s Institute for Public Affairs and was an Honorary Research Professor of Social Science & Public Policy at the Centre for Innovation and Structural Change (CISC) from 2009- 2011. Professor Leyden’s teaching and research interests include social capital, public policy, public opinion, elections, interest groups, health policy, energy policy, land-use & transportation planning and issues of sustainable development. His research has been published in the American Journal of Public Health, Environmental Health Perspectives, The British Journal of Political Science, Political Research Quarterly, Legislative Studies Quarterly, American Politics Quarterly, American Journal of Health Promotion, American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Presidential Studies Quarterly, and Policy Studies Journal, among others. His current research focuses primarily on the relationship between the community design, social capital, health, and climate change. He serves as a partner with the World Health Organization’s Large Analysis and Review of European Housing and Health Status (LARES), and is a Research Fellow with the Global Metropolitan Forum which is examining the quality of life in ten major international metropolises. In addition, he is currently completing an analysis of transportation planning as part of a research grant from the Irish Environmental Protection Agency. Other recent research grants include an analysis of over 69,000 residents affected by an environmental clean-up project in Parkersburg, West Virginia and an analysis of disaster evacuation plans for the Office of Homeland Security. Prof. Leyden’s Institute for Public Affairs promotes research focusing on public policy issues of concern to the State of West Virginia and the Appalachian region. The Institute also organizes statewide training conferences and educational workshops designed to assist West Virginia’s public officials in their efforts to address pressing public policy and governance issues. Most recently, Professor Leyden coordinated the Council of State Government’s Center for the Advancement of Leadership Skills (2009) which was attended by state-level executive, legislative and judicial officials from the entire South of the U.S.


Sustainable Community Design and Development
Urban Land-Use and Transportation Planning
Neighborhood/Community Design, Health & Climate Change
Interest Groups, Non-Profits, and Public Policy
Social Capital, Civic Engagement & Democracy
Social Entrepreneurship
Energy Policy
Health Policy
Environmental Policy & Politics Land Use Planning & Politics
The Causes & Consequences of Urban Sprawl
Public Opinion
Community and Economic Development
The Role of Political Parties in Elections & the Legislative Process
Representation, Accountability and Democratic Governance
Interest Groups, PAC Money, and Elections
Congressional, Presidential & Gubernatorial Elections
European Elections
Neighborhood Revitalization Policy Housing Policy
Quantitative Research Methods


Click here to view Professor Leyden's publication list


Research Grants/Service Grants

The Environmental Protection Agency of the Republic of Ireland. The Grant is titled: The ’Cleaner, Greener, Leaner’ Study: Combating Climate Change through Planning for Sustainable Transport. Co-Investigator. The grant primarily supports a PhD Student for three years under the Science, Technology, Research & Innovation for the Environment (STRIVE) Programme 2007 – 2013 to assist with our study of Dublin neighborhoods. $115,000 (2009-20 1 1).

E.I. du Pont de Nemours Co/Brookmar, Inc. Grant to Evaluate Court Ordered C8 Environmental and Health remediation project in Parkersburg, WV and to host data from project. $575,510 (2006-2008). Co-Investigator. Web Page: (partial description of projects). Brief Description: Commonly referred to as C8, ammonium perfluorooctanoate and its derivative salts are used by the Du Pont chemical company to aid in the production of non-stick and protective fluoropolymers such as TEFLON, Scotchguard™, and Gore-Tex™. C8 has been discovered in the water supply of communities near the Du Pont Chemical plant located outside of Parkersburg, WV. A C8 Health Project was conducted between August 2005 – July 2006 by Brookmar Inc., as part of the settlement agreement reached in the case of Leach v. E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co., No. 01C-608 (W. Va., Wood County Cir. Ct. filed Apr. 10, 2002). Over 69,000 residents provided blood samples that are currently being analyzed to determine whether C8 is associated with human disease in the Parkersburg area. WVU researchers are involved in many aspects of this effort including an examination of the perceptions of affected residents and the health effects of the entire C8 Health Project. This research project is expected to produce many publications including those that focus upon health and environmental policy issues.

West Virginia Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety. “West Virginia Mass Evacuation Modeling and Simulation Platform Project.” $374,675. (2007-2008). Co-Investigator.

The Environmental Protection Agency of the Republic of Ireland. The Grant is entitled “Sustainable Development Evaluation of Road Infrastructure Programmes.” $131,435. (2005-2006). Co-Investigator. Brief Description: This project systematically examines the decision process used to build new roads in the Republic of Ireland. The team’s primary focus was on the Environmental Impact Assessment process and making recommendations for its improvement. The final report for this project is under review at the EPA.

Monongalia County Health Department and West Virginia University. West Virginia Walks. Public health intervention and evaluation of a media based walking campaign based in North Central West Virginia. $150,000 plus. (2005-2006) Co-Investigator. Brief Description: WV Walks was a socio-ecological public health intervention designed to promote 30+ minutes of daily walking among insufficiently active 40- to 65-year olds. Pre- and post-surveys of the public and policymakers were used to assess the campaign’s effectiveness.

DHHS/PHS/CDC/National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. “Promoting Public Health Research and Education through the Institute for Public Affairs.” $13,128 (2004-2005)

Appalachian Regional Commission and the West Virginia Development Office. “Encouraging Leadership II: Recruiting Newly Elected Public Officials to Attend the Local Government Leadership Academy.” $10,000 (2007)

Appalachian Regional Commission and the West Virginia Development Office. “Encouraging Leadership: Recruiting Newly Elected Public Officials to Attend the Local Government Leadership Academy.” $10,000 (2006)

Appalachian Regional Commission and the West Virginia Development Office. “Pro-Active Planning for the Future: Strategic Retreat for ARC Distressed County Leaders and Local Government Leadership Academy. $7,000 (2006)

Appalachian Regional Commission and the West Virginia Development Office. “New Leaders Program as part of the bi-annual Local Government Leadership Academy.” The program will work to enhance the leadership skills of college students from distressed counties in West Virginia. $10,000 (2005)

Alliance for Excellent Education. Study on the relationship between High School Drop-outs and Incarceration. $4,500. Principal Investigator. (2005).

RRI/College Special Research Assignment (SRA) Award: Examining the Linkages between Neighborhood Design, Social Capital, and Health: Survey Design and Pre-test Principal Investigator. $10,000 (2004-2005)

Canadian Studies Faculty Research Grant 2002-2003. Canadian Embassy. Topic: Community Planning in Canada. Co-Investigator. US$14,904

Research Grant, Eberly College of Arts & Sciences. West Virginia University. 2001. Topic: The Politics of the American Landscape: Community Planning, Real Estate, and Land Use Policy. $6,095.29 Co-Investigator.

Invited Presentations and Lectures (examples)

“Understanding Walkability: How Policymakers Assess Factors that Influence Active Transport.” Invited Oral Presentation. International Society for Environmental Epidemiology, Sept. 13-16th, 2011. Barcelona, Spain.

“How the Innovative, Planning of Cities and Towns Can Address Climate Change, Health and Well-Being.” Presentation at the Making the Built Environment Work: towards theory, methods and practice interfaces. NUI Maynooth, 27th June – 2nd July, 2011.

“The City Solution.” Invited presentation. IRCHSS & IRCSET Postdoctoral Symposium. Royal College of Physicians, Dublin. June 27, 2011.

“The Importance of Social Marketing: Introductory Thoughts.” Delivered at
Enabling Sustainable Behaviour: The Environment, Communities, Health & Well Being”, the 3rd Annual Social Marketing Conference on Friday, April 15th, 2011 at NUI Galway.

“Thinking about the Future of Galway”. Galway 2040 Symposium. November 5th, 2010. GMIT University, Galway, Ireland.

“The City Solution: How Making Cities Livable Can Address Climate Change and Well-Being.” Invited Presentation. Globe Forum, Smarter & Greener: Innovation for a Sustainable Future. November 17-18, 2010, Convention Center, Dublin Ireland Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology (CREAL), Barcelona Spain. International team examining questions related to how policymakers understand the relationship between the built environment and health. (2009-Present).

“Walkability Means What, to Whom? Difficulties and Challenges in Defining Walkability.” with Fitzsimons, L., et al., Poster presented by L. Fitzsimmons. International Walk21 Conference, Getting communities back on their feet. The Hague, The Netherlands, November 17th-19th, 2010.

The Built Environment, Social Capital & Quality of Life” Invited Presentation to Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology (CREAL) concerning the TRANSPORTION, AIR POLLUTION AND PHYSICAL ACTIVITIES; AN INTEGRATED HEALTH RISK ASSESSMENT PROGAMME OF CLIMATE CHANGE AND URBAN POLICIES (TAPAS) Project. November 9-11, 2009. Barcelona, Spain.

Climate Change Legislation Update & Discussion” Invited Presentation to the Industries of the Future – West Virginia. Theme: Energy Efficiency. Charleston Marriott, Charleston, WV, November 19, 2008.

Quality of Life & Sustainable Planning: The Interconnections between Urban Design, Transport, Citizenship and Health. Invited Presentation at the Eisenhower Foundation’s Spring Fellowships Conference. Solis Lough Eske Castle, Donegal Ireland. April, 18-20, 2008.

Bias, Thomas K., Kevin M. Leyden, Bill Reger-Nash, Jay E. Maddock, and Adrian Bauman. Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Active Living Conference. “Changing Attitudes of Policymakers Using Public Health Interventions: Survey Instrument and Test-Retest Reliability.” Poster Presentation. April 11, 2008.

Sustainable Land-Use and Transportation Planning: Why Community Planning Affects Quality of Life.” Invited Presentation to Government officials at Qingdao Administrative College. Qingdao, China. January 25th, 2008.

Quality of Life, Happiness and the Importance of Social and Community Connections.” Invited Presentation to the Second International Conference of the Global Metropolitan Forum of Seoul and The National Academy of Sciences. Shilla Hotel, Seoul, Korea. January 18-19, 2008.

Community Design, Transportation, Citizenship, and Health.” Invited Presentation at the American Institute of Architects West Virginia Chapter Meeting. The Embassy Suites Hotel. Charleston, WV. November 16, 2007.

Understanding Creative Workers: The Importance of Community and a Sense of Place.” Invited Presentation at the Create West Virginia Conference. Stonewall Jackson Resort. Roanoke, WV. November 12-14, 2007.

Sustainable Planning: The Interconnections between Urban Design, Transport, Citizenship and Health.” Invited Presentation at the International Conference on Public Transport and Urban Citizenship at The Policy Institute of Trinity College, Dublin. September 21, 2007.

Citizenship, Participation, and the Built Environment: Toward a Democratic Theory of the Neighborhood” presented at The Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association. Chicago, August 31, 2007.

Planning Healthy Communities.” Presented at Irish Planning Institute’s National Planning Conference: Towards Sustainable Urban & Rural Communities. The New Park Hotel, Kilkenny, Ireland. April 19-20, 2007.

Invited Speaker, RGDATA Members’ Summit. “Local Shops = Stronger Local Communities” February 19th, 2007. Croke Park Stadium, Dublin Ireland.One of several featured speakers including the Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Bertie Ahern.

Community Design, Land-Use Planning, and Citizen Well-Being: Comparing the Quality of Life in New York City with Other International Cities.” Presented at Assessing Happiness and Competitiveness of World Major Metropolises. Sponsored by The National Academy of Science, Republic of Korea and the Seoul Metropolitan Government. January 19th, 2007. Seoul, South Korea.

Housing Quality, Neighborhoods and Health.” Presentation with LARES World Health Organization Research Team. Symposium: WHO Activities on Housing and Health. Presented at the 5th International Conference on Urban Health. Amsterdam, October 25-28, 2006.

Neighborhoods, Housing and Health: Findings from the LARES Study of Eight European Cities. Poster for the International Conference on Environmental Epidemiology & Exposure. Paris, France. September 2-6, 2006.

Towards a Sustainable Transport System” Keynote Presentation at Towards Sustainability in the National Development Plan 2007-2013. Comhar National Conference for the Development of the 2007-2013 National Development Plan for the Republic of Ireland. Davenport Hotel, Dublin, Ireland, October 4-6, 2006.

Neighborhoods and Health: Findings from the LARES Study of Eight European Cities. Active Living Research/Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Annual Conference. February 16-18, 2006 in Coronado, California.

What Makes Sustainable Communities: US and Irish Evidence.” FEASTA Workshop entitled: Planning for the Future Now: Building Sustainable Local Communities.” September 21-22, 2005 at the Mont Clare Hotel , Dublin, Ireland. (This workshop was accredited by Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland)

Why Community Design Matters.” Invited Presentation to The American Institute of Architects—Virginia and West Virginia Chapters. June 24-25, 2005. The Greenbrier, White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.

Neighborhoods and Health: Why Where We Lives Matters.” Presentation to The Second Annual World Health Organization’s International Housing & Health Symposium, September 29-October 1, 2004 in Vilnius, Lithuania.

Linkages between Community Design, Social Capital, and Health” First Annual New Urbanism and Beyond Conference” October 4-8, 2004 in Stockholm, Sweden.

Neighborhoods, Housing, and Health: Where We Live Matters.” Poster to the American Public Health Association. November 6-10, 2004 in Washington DC.

The Built Environment and Civic Engagement: How Community Design Affects Democracy” Presented at the 39th International Making Cities Livable Conference, Sarasota, Florida, March 15-19th, 2004.

Neighborhood Design, Political Participation and Social Capital” presented at The Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association. Boston, Massachusetts, August 29-September 1, 2002.

Keynote Speaker. An Taisce, The National Trust of Ireland. National Conference: Planning for Communities, Saturday, November 9th 2002 Dublin Castle, Dublin, Ireland. I was interviewed by two radio stations in Dublin as well

Invited Speaker, 2002 Conference of the California Chapter of the American Planning Association. Topic: Social Capital, Civic Engagement & the Power of Planning. October 6-9, 2002. San Diego, California

Invited Speaker, Presentation to the Royal Town Planning Institute, Irish Branch. Dublin, Ireland, June 6th, 2002.

Invited Participant: Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. Invited along with about 15 other scholars and practitioners to assist in the development of a research agenda examining health, land-use, transportation and planning. Atlanta, Georgia, May 28th, 2002.

Invited Speaker, The 1st Annual New Partners of Smart Growth Conference: Building Safe, Healthy, and Livable Communities. San Diego, January 24-26, 2002.

Neighborhood Design, Political Participation and Social Capital” presented at The Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association. Boston, Massachusetts, August29-September 1, 2002.

Media Pieces and Mentions (examples)

Recorded and Live Interviews: BBC 4: You and Yours. Cars and Community. Interviewed live and in Morgantown, WV by BBC 4 reporters. October 22, 2003.

Interview for West Virginia Public Radio. Dateline West Virginia. Sprawl and Community Health. October 29th, 2003.

Live Interview: Today with Pat Kenny. September 3, 2003. Live National Broadcast on RTE 1 Radio, Ireland discussing my article in the American Journal of Public Health.

Interview for The State We’re In: Transport in Crisis, a six week series on RTE Radio Ireland. The program is hosted by Irish Times Environmental Editor, Frank McDonnell. My segment was broadcast nationally on September 9, 2003..

Speaker. Building Better Neighborhoods. East End Neighborhood Conference, Charleston WV, November 14, 2002.

Guest Panelist, Whatever Gets You Through with Muriel Gray. BB4. International Broadcast from the United Kingdom. The Topic was Community & Social Capital. September, 14, 2001.

Guest Interview, The Jerry Ryan Show, 2FM, May 22, 2001. National Radio Broadcast in the Republic of Ireland. Subject: Neighborhood Design and Social Capital in Ireland.

Guest Interview, After Dark with Rodney Rice. RTE1. May 24, 2001. National Radio Broadcast in the Republic of Ireland. Subject: Neighborhood Design and Social Capital in Ireland. Discussion with the John Fitzgerald, the City Manager of Dublin, Ireland.

Additional Appointments, Research Affiliations & External Academic Assignments

Honorary Research Professor of Social Science & Public Policy, Centre for Innovation and Structural Change, National University of Ireland, Galway (2009-Present)

Research Affiliate, Energy Efficiency Team, National Research Center for Coal & Energy (2008-Present)

Fellow, Global Metropolitan Forum, Seoul, Korea (2008-Present)

Visiting Faculty Fellowship, National University of Ireland, Galway (2001)

Invited Researcher, World Health Organization (2004-Present). Large Analysis and Review of European Housing and Health Status (LARES)

Extern Examiner, National University of Ireland 2002-05

Director, Institute for Public Affairs (2005-Present) West Virginia University

Coordinator, Center for the Advancement of Leadership Skills, 2009 (with WVU, Council of State Governments and Southern Legislative Conference)

Director, Local Government Leadership Academy (2004-Present)

Editor, Public Affairs Reporter (2004-Present)

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