Sam Cole

Professor Emeritus - Department of Urban and Regional Planning 

Professor Emeritus - Department of Urban and Regional Planning

Mary Perrelli headshot.

Before joining the Department of Environmental Planning and Design at UB in 1983, Professor Sam Cole worked in a wide variety of national and international positions in national, urban, and regional planning. 

Educated at Imperial College London and Sussex University and after completing a post-doctoral fellowship at the Cavendish Laboratory Cambridge he was became a Senior Scientific Officer in the Urban Planning Division of the UK Department of Environment. In 1971 Sam was appointed Senior Fellow at the Science Policy Research Unit, University of Sussex, Visiting Fellow at the United Nations Institute for Training and Research, New York, with appointments in Papua New Guinea and Sweden, and Professor in the UB Department of Geography. Over the years he has consulted with international and regional development agencies and private organizations in many countries in Africa, Asia and the South Pacific, and the Americas. He has drafted policy documents for several high-level UN Committees including the Commission on Culture and Development, the UN Population Division, and the UNESCO Medium Term Plan. Prior to his arrival in Buffalo Sam was Senior Economist in charge of the preparation of a macro-economic plan for the independence of the island nation of Aruba and continues to research disaster management, tourism, and public policy issues in the Caribbean and elsewhere. Sam has published well-over one hundred scholarly articles, books, and consultant reports.


Professor Cole's research interests match his teaching and experience. He is currently involved in projects on methods of futures studies with the United Nations University Millennium Project, Tourism Planning, Disaster Management and Planning with a European-Japanese-US group, and social accounting methods in regional science. His most recent research involves the application of chaos and innovation theories to secular and metropolitan development. He is a member of several university research institutes, including the Multidisciplinary Center for Earthquake Engineering Research, National Center for Geographic Information Systems, the Environment and Society Institute, the Center for Urban Studies, and formerly Director of the Center for Regional Studies. He is currently a member of the World Futures Studies Federation, the International Input-Output Association, the North American and International Regional Science Associations. 

Public Service

Professor Cole is involved in public service through university centers, consulting activities, and also through departmental studios. His activities include preparation of a new framework for sustainable tourism in Aruba for the Island Government, a socio-economic analysis of the Niagara Power Project for the New York Power Authority, a “Turning Point” inner-city development strategy for the City of Buffalo with the Center for Urban Studies, and a tourism strategy for counties in the Southern Tier of Western New York with students in the tourism studio, and advised community action groups in the UK. He has recently prepared a "Strategy for Sustainable Tourism" in Aruba. Sam has been a University at Buffalo academic delegate to the United University Professions since 2009. 

Selected Publications

  • “Creative chaos? Globalization, Agglomeration and the Metropolis”.  Journal of Economic Geography. 2012. 1–22
  • “Synergy and Congestion in the Tourist Destination Life-Cycle”. Tourism Management. Volume 33, Issue 5, October 2012, Pages 1128–1140
  • “Managing Chaos in Nonlinear Economic Systems: Globalization and Destination Tourism” in "Chaos and Complexity Theory for Business Management: Nonlinear Dynamics" (ed. S.Banerjee) ISI Global. 2012.
  • “A foresight exercise for the future of rural communities in Romania” (with Ghișa, M; Goux-Baudiment , F; and Dator, J). Futures, 43, 9, November 2011, 996-1008
  • “Island Awash–Sustainability and Social Complexity in the Caribbean” (with V. Razak), Quality-of-Life Community Indicators for Recreation and Tourism Management. (ed. R. Phillips) Springer (2011)
  • “Beyond Despair: What's in a Picture?” Commentary on UNESCO Rapport mondial de suivi sur l’ETP. (with Dator, J) Futures, 43, 9, 2011, 1009-1019                                              
  • “Alliterative Logic: A Theory for Post-normal Times” Futures Journal of Policy, Planning, and Futures Studies 43, 2, March 2011, 209-215
  • "A Logistic Tourism Model: Resort Cycles, Globalization, and Chaos," Annals of Tourism Research 36:4, 689-714, 2009. Selected for republication in Spanish Edition (2011)
  • “The Regional Portfolio of Disruptions, Protection, and Disasters”. Annals of Regional Science.  44 2 April  251-272 2010.
  • "Tourism as Future," Futures Journal of Policy, Planning, and Futures Studies. 41:6, 335-345, 2009.
  • "How Far, and How Fast? Population, Culture, and Carrying Capacity in Aruba," (with V. Razak). Futures Journal of Policy, Planning, and Futures Studies 41:6, 414-425, 2009.
  • "The Zeitgeist of Futures?" Futures Journal of Policy, Planning, and Futures Studies, 40:10, 894-902, 2008.
  • "Global Issues and Futures: A Theory and Pedagogy for Heuristic Modeling," Futures Journal of Policy, Planning, and Futures Studies 40:777–787, 2008.
  • "The Regional Science of Tourism: An Overview," Journal of Regional Analysis and Policy.,37(3):183-192, 2007.
  • "Beyond the Resort Life Cycle: The Micro-Dynamics of Destination Tourism," Journal of Regional Analysis and Policy. 37(3):254-265, 2007.
  • “Performance and Protection in an Adaptive Transaction Model. “ (2004). Disaster Prevention and Management Vol. 3. No. 4.
  • “Dare to Dream – Bringing Futures Studies into Planning.” (2001). Journal of the American Planning Association. Fall 2001.
  • “Of Maps and Macros: Object Oriented Spreadsheet GIS.” (1997). Environment and Planning B.
  • “Decision Support for Calamity Preparedness: The Socio-Economic and Inter-Regional Impacts of an Earthquake”. In M. Shinozuka, A. Rose, and R.T. Eguchi . A. Engineering and Socio-Economic Analysis of Electricity Lifelines in Memphis, Tennessee, National Center for Earthquake Engineering Research, University at Buffalo. 1997
  • “Lifelines and Livelihood: A Social Accounting Matrix Approach to Calamity Preparedness.” (1995). Journal of Contingencies and Crisis Management Vol 3. No. 3.
  • “Cultural Accounting: An Example from a Small Caribbean Island.” (1994). Contemporary Economic Issues Vol 12. No. 4.
  • “A Lagrangian Approach to Multi-proportional Matrix Scaling.” (1992). Regional Science and Urban Economics Vol. 22.
  • “Buffalo Comes in from the Cold War: The Consequences for Communities and Firms of Defense Budget Cuts”, Buffalo Law Review, (with Stack, B.). Spring, 39, 1991. 385-407
  • World Economy Forecasts and the International Agencies. International Studies Quarterly.  31, 4 (Dec., 1987), 367-385
  • Growth, equity and dependence in a restructuring city region. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 11, 4, 461–477, December 1987
  • “The War System and the International Economic Order: Directions for Disarmament. “ (1980). Alternatives . Vol. 6. No. 2.
  • An Investigation into the Estimation and Reliability of Urban Shopping Models.” (1980). Urban Studies Vol 17. No. 2.
  • World Futures: The Great Debate. (1977). London, UK: Martin Robertson and New York, NY: Universe Books.
  • Thinking About the Future: A Critique of the Limits to Growth . (1973). London, UK: Chatto and Windus (Published in the USA as Models of Doom New York, NY: Universe Books.).
  • “Model Dependent Scale Values for Attitude Questionnaire Items “Socio Economic Planning Sciences Vol. 5. (1971).
  • “Theory of Ferromagnetic Alloys.” (1969). J. Phys. C: Solid State Phys. Vol. 2.

Selected Activities, Honors, and Awards

In 2005, Cole's studio students won the APA Carol Bloome Award for the Best Group Tourism Project. Joint-Winner of Best Paper in Journal of the American Planning Association –2001. Joint-Winner of Fannie Mae/Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning, Best Practice Paper -2000. Editorial Board Futures- the International Journal of Policy, Planning, and Futures Studies; Regional Science Review; and the Journal of Regional Analysis and Policy. Open, Doctoral, and Post-doctoral Scholarships to London , Sussex , and Cambridge Universities. Research Fellow of the World Futures Studies Federation. In earlier times Sam was an passionate racing cyclist and rugby player for regional and university teams. He remains an avid mountain-biker.