Office: CAP 330F
Focus: Environmental justice, urban design, urban politics, land use planning, land use conflict, politics of public space, shrinking cities
Bio: I am an Associate Professor of Planning and Design in the College of Architecture and Planning at the University of Colorado Denver.
My research examines how planners, designers, and citizens can help create urban environments that are more equitable and inclusive. Recent work examines several timely topics: the impact of anti-terrorism security on civil liberties, the effect of zoning regulations on public space design, the challenges confronting planners in cities experiencing severe economic decline and shrinking populations, and the development of new policy frameworks for controversial land uses such as medical marijuana facilities.
When it comes to urban and regional planning, what are you most passionate about?
I am most passionate about the politics that drive the seemingly mundane, everyday decisions we make about how, and by whom, land is used in the city. I am particularly interested in how policies, plans and programs impact marginalized and underserved groups – especially persons of color, low-income populations, homeless persons, and teenagers – whose voices are often overlooked in the planning process. We live in a deeply inequitable society, and I hope to uncover both how we have been complicit in shaping these inequities and how we might combat the most egregious injustices.
What is the most important issue you believe the planning profession should be focusing on for the future, and why?
I am fascinated by the current population shift from the suburbs to the city, and Denver is a powerful example of this. We abandoned cities for suburbs a generation ago, and now we’re doing the same with the suburbs. Planners have done a really great job thinking through how to create vibrant downtowns and central cities, but the folks who are moving “back to the city” are those who have the ability to move. They are generally white, middle-class, educated, “creative class” individuals whom the city wants to attract. But what about those groups that cannot move, or are relegated to suburbs and outlying towns, where transport costs are very high, social services are relatively weak, and opportunities for collective action are nearly non-existent? Denver suburbs are becoming much more diverse than our central city and this suburban question will pose an enormous challenge for our next generation of planners.
As a planner and as an instructor, how do you view your role in the community?
We are a public university and the only planning program in Colorado, and thus have an important mandate to serve the state and region. Community engagement is at the core of all of our courses. We work on real projects, with real clients, with real community members. This provides our students valuable opportunities to “learn by doing.” But an important component of this relationship is giving back. As our students gain practical knowledge through interactions with local communities, we are also helping these communities to translate their own experiences into the planning process. We hope these relationships are impactful for both students and community members.
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