Carena J. van Riper

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I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of Recreation, Sport and Tourism at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  My research explores the psychological mechanisms that underlie human behavior, particularly value orientations, cultural values for ecosystem services, and human-place bonding in recreation and leisure contexts.  As an applied social scientist with training in the human dimensions of natural resources management, I use a variety of tools such as latent variable modeling, stated preference techniques and Geographic Information Systems to support public participation in decision-making. Much of my work is conducted in parks and protected areas with a special focus on management of coastal and marine environments.  

I received a Ph.D. from the Department of Recreation, Park & Tourism Sciences at Texas A&M University and certificate in the Applied Biodiversity Sciences National Science Foundation-Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (NSF-IGERT) Program. I also hold a M.S. from my work with the Park Studies Laboratory at the University of Vermont and a BA from Arizona State University. My primary interests include:


  • Environmental attitudes and human behavior 
  • Concepts of "value" and "place" 
  • Outdoor recreation carrying capacity 
  • Geospatial modeling  
  • Leisure experience



Carena Van Riper, Copyright 2013