Geographer's work has big impact, worldwide reach

Paul L. Knox is an internationally renowned geographer and award-winning teacher whose specialty areas lie in the field of urban geography: urbanization, urban planning, and the built environment.

    Paul Knox working at his desk

Urban geography looks at the development of settlements and the related human and environmental impacts associated with the settlement.

But, Knox's own impact stretches far beyond just city limits.

Recently, he assumed a leadership role for Virginia Tech's Center for European Studies and Architecture (CESA) as part of his duties as Senior Fellow for International Advancement. In this role, his extensive experience with CESA will provide a unique perspective that will provide quality and positive leadership to enhancing this important piece of Virginia Tech's international program.

Additionally, Knox and his wife have personally established undergraduate study-abroad scholarships and were inducted into Virginia Tech's Ut Prosim Society for their efforts.

He has established strategic partnerships with the Academy of Architecture of the Università Svizzera Italiana , the University of Stuttgart, Germany, and the Politecnico di Milano, Italy. He also helped initiate a cross-college program with Outreach and International Affairs to help faculty develop international collaborative relationships with their peers at universities abroad.

    Paul Knox (left) and a student looking at a map

Knox began working at Virginia Tech in 1985 as a faculty member in the Department of Urban Affairs and Planning in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies.

He was appointed associate dean of academic affairs for the college in 1993 and dean of the college in 1997.

During the nearly nine years Knox served as dean, the college:

  • became one of the top five colleges of its kind in the nation in terms of research funding;
  • realized new records in annual giving;
  • significantly increased the number of scholarships and awards available to students;
  • established its first fully endowed professorship;
  • secured funding for a building renovation and new building construction;
  • established new schools;
  • added programs and a research center at the Alexandria, Va., campus;
  • admitted an increasingly competitive student body; and
  • rose in national rankings.
    Paul Knox standing in front of a cityscape

Distinction in research and scholarship is also a hallmark of the college. Knox led by example and continues to conduct world renowned research.

The recipient of Virginia Tech's Award for Teaching Excellence in 1989, he has also taught at universities in Finland, New Zealand, Scotland, Hungary, and Norway as well as at the University of Wisconsin and the University of Oklahoma.

His continuing publication of books and articles on urban and regional development makes him one of the country's most-cited scholars in the field.

Knox has authored, co-authored, or edited numerous books and textbooks, which have been translated into German, Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, and Portuguese. He has contributed more than 35 book chapters and had more than 50 refereed articles published in scientific journals.

Other books are also on the horizon for Knox.  His latest efforts are a book called “The American Dream in the New Metropolis” and a collaborative effort—“Small Town Sustainability”—with Heike Mayer, Urban Affairs and Planning professor in the School of Public and International Affairs.

Knox has been co-editor of the international journal, Environment and Planning, and served on the editorial board of several journals: Annals, the publication of the association of American Geographers (AAG) and Urban Geography; Cities; Scottish Geographical Journal , the Journal of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society; and Applied Geography. He also has chaired the urban geography specialty group of the AAG.

He received a bachelor's degree and Ph.D. in geography at the University of Sheffield in England.

For more information on this topic, contact Heather Riley Chadwick at hrchadwi@vt.edu or (540) 231-2108.

International conference

A Suburban World?
Global Decentralization and the New Metropolis

April 6-8, 2008
Reston, VA

The conference will take a look at the new metropolis in the context of global decentralization.

Hosts for the conference are:

  • Robert Lang, co-director, Virginia Tech's Metropolitan Institute
  • Arthur Nelson, co-director, Virginia Tech's Metropolitan institute
  • Paul Knox, Distinguished Professor, Virginia Tech
  • Ed Blakely, Executive Director for Recovery Management, City of New Orleans and Professor, University of New Orleans and University of Sydney, Australia
  • Juliann Allison, Associate Director, Edward Blakely Center for Sustainable and Suburban Development

More conference information

More on...

Learn more about some of Knox's work and research.

  • "Creating Ordinary Places: Slow Cities in a Fast World"
  • "Vulgaria: The Re-enchantment of Suburbia"

More information on research conducted at Virginia Tech's Metropolitan Institute

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