Ralph Levine

Ralph Levine


Department of Community Sustainability

Professor Emeritus

Telephone: 517) 432-0281

150A Natural Resources

Dr. Levine is a professor emeritus, who was originally trained in community psychology and systems science. He is still involved in research projects and community outreach. His career has been devoted to putting the human dimension into the interface between biological and physical systems that are intimately connected such societal problems such as sprawl and other forms of land use.

As a systems person, Dr. Levine has a wide variety of interests. The principal method of synthesis and analysis that he uses is system dynamics, which is a combination of computer simulation, participatory activities at the community level, and action research. He prefers to use computers as a tool for insight concerning the intended and unintended consequences public and private policies.

Early in his career, Dr. Levine and his students worked on computer models of dynamic recreational choice. For example, He built a model of the interaction and usage among regional national parks, introducing such "soft" variables as "loyalty" to a park when new parks come on line in any given region. He also was active in looking at the human effects of clearcutting of Michigan forests. He introduced a multivariate approach to this area of concern. Currently he is working with a CARRS colleague to understand the role of recreation in communities that will increase to quality of life.

Dr. Levine's recent systems research deals in a number of areas. He is interested in community health issues. He is currently working with a group of epidemiologists who are looking at the human side of how communities cope with severe diseases, such as the outbreak of the pneumonic plague in Surat India. In another vein, he is working with a CARR's colleague on obtaining funds to look at the dynamics of screening for prostate cancer in older African-American men. They plan to look at this prevention strategy as a motivational system in which people go through various stages of change, going from denying the need to be screened to developing the habit of getting a screening every year.

Dr. Levine is also working with another CARRS colleague on the MSU WATER project, writing up the results of a survey concerning student perceptions, attitudes, and uses of the Red Cedar River, which runs through the central part of the MSU campus. He has a keen interest in land use, especially in the modeling sprawl issues, and policies to bring back the core cities.

Finally, at organizational level, Dr. Levine is seeking funds with another MSU colleague to fund an empirical and theoretical study of how health service agencies within a region deal with constant pressure from their funding sources to adopt evidence based programs that may erode their initial set of values and force them to into another direction in terms of the people they serve and the kind of service they provide.

Although he is not presently teaching a class in systems analysis, Dr. Levine still has an interest in working with graduate students as a member of their committees and on our mutual research interests.