Tanya Heikkila, PhD

Program Director, Master of Public Policy
Co-Director, Center for Policy and Democracy


Email Address: tanya.heikkila@ucdenver.edu

Primary Phone: 303-315-2269

Office Hours: By appointment




Professor Heikkila’s research and teaching focus on policy processes and environmental governance. She is particularly interested in how conflict and collaboration arise in policy processes, and what types of institutions support collaboration, learning, and conflict resolution. Some of her recent research has explored these issues in the context of interstate watersheds, large-scale ecosystem restoration programs, and unconventional oil and gas development. Prof. Heikkila has published numerous articles and books on these topics and has participated in several interdisciplinary research and education projects. She enjoys collaborating with faculty and students, especially through the Center for Policy and Democracy (CPD) at CU Denver, which she co-directs. She also serves as a member of the Delta Independent Science Board for the state of California. Prior to coming to CU Denver, Prof. Heikkila was a post-doctoral fellow at Indiana University’s Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis and an Assistant Professor at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. A native of Oregon, she received her BA from the University of Oregon and then learned to appreciate desert life while completing her MPA and PhD at the University of Arizona.

Areas of Expertise

Environmental governance; policy learning; institutional analysis; management of collaboration and conflict, particularly around natural resources.

Education, Licensure & Certifications

Doctor of Philosophy in Management
University of Arizona

Master of Public Administration
University of Arizona

Bachelor of Arts in International Studies and Spanish
University of Oregon


  • American Political Science Association, Public Policy Section’s Lowi Prize for best paper (2023)
  • School of Public Affairs, Excellence in Faculty Service & Leadership Award (2021)
  • School of Public Affairs, Excellence in Faculty Research Award (2018)
  • University of Colorado Denver, Graduate School Dean’s Award for Excellence in Mentoring (2015; 2020)
  • School of Public Affairs, Excellence in Faculty Teaching Award (2014)
  • University of Colorado Denver, Campus-wide Award for Excellence in Faculty Research (2013)
  • School of Public Affairs, Excellence in Faculty Teaching Award (2013)
  • Harold D. Lasswell Award for best article in the journal Policy Sciences (2012)

Curriculum Vitae


School of Public Affairs

CU Denver

Lawrence Street Center

1380 Lawrence Street


Denver, CO 80204


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