Tag Archives: Rumbach

MURP Program Hosts ACSP Conference, October 12 – 15, 2017

September 15, 2017

The Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning Conference (ACSP) is coming to Denver.

ACSP is an international membership organization of universities with departments offering planning programs and/or degrees affiliated with planning, in addition to individual faculty and student members. The organization publishes the academic journal, the Journal of Planning Education and Research, as well as hosts annual conferences, workshops and other services for the academic community and general public related to planning.

Its mission—which promotes planning education, research, service and outreach in the United States and internationally—includes recognizing diverse needs and interests in planning; improving and enhancing the accreditation process; and strengthening the role of planning education in universities through publications, conferences and community engagement to extend planning beyond the classroom and into the world of practice.

ACSP’s annual conference is being held in Denver and hosted by CU Denver’s master of urban and regional planning (MURP) program from October 12 to 15, 2017. This year’s conference theme, “Cities, Regions and Growth: Smart, Inclusive and Equitable?” seeks to use Denver as an example for many of the questions faced by planners today. Professor and MURP Department Chair Austin Troy and Assistant Professor Andrew Rumbach are serving as the local host committees’ co-chairs.

While growth in the Denver-metropolitan region has brought tremendous economic opportunity for residents, it has also brought significant challenges, including housing supply shortages and increasing housing costs; land consumption and loss of open space; increasing exposure to natural hazards; traffic congestion and delay; inability to scale transit to meet demand; lack of coordination between jurisdictions; inequitable public education; sectoral imbalance in the economy; gentrification; and congestion of amenities.

However, within these challenges, there is also tremendous opportunity for planning to impact how cities, including Denver, redefine, reinvent and revitalize themselves. For instance, in Denver, reinvestment in central areas has increased walkability, mixed use development and good urban design, among other characteristics that are leading to a more vibrant city. With careful management of growth and development—such as reducing gentrification-induced development and loss of public goods—planners can create a more inclusive strategy to leverage opportunities, such as sustainability and equity, spurred from growth.

This year’s conference will include a welcome reception; paper sessions, presentations and roundtables; mobile tours of neighborhoods such as River North, Sun Valley and downtown Denver led by Assistant Professor CTT Ken Schroeppel; a posters and exhibits reception; a student reception; and a book signing, among other events.

Please see the full conference schedule and stay tuned for further updates.

April 2017: MURP Faculty Updates

MURP faculty are busy serving the planning profession, the community and our students through their leadership and participation in publications, boards, research and media stories. 

Notable activities in April 2017 include:

Jeremy Németh, associate professor of urban and regional planning, received a grant through CU Denver’s Office of Research Services to conduct a research project entitled, Green Gentrification in Chicago: Development, displacement and Community Activism. The project will analyze the gentrification impacts of the more than 200 acres of parks built between 1990 and 2017 in Chicago, and will include interviews with advocacy organizations working along two of the city’s new parks. This research project is spurred by the expensive urban greening projects many U.S. cities have undertaken in recent years along former waterways and rail corridors, such as New York City’s High Line. While these projects often transform dilapidated infrastructure into desirable public spaces, they can contribute to quickly rising property values and the eventual displacement of low-income people living nearby. As such, Németh’s research will assess the extent to which these “green gentrification” projects contribute to displacement, and whether community resistance efforts resulting in new housing and land use policies may temper these effects.

Németh was also interviewed and cited in the publication, CityPulse, where Lansing, Michigan is looking to Colorado as a case study related to medical marijuana regulation and zoning restrictions. In 2014, Németh conducted a study of zoning restrictions for marijuana facilities in Denver and found that the restrictions pushed these businesses into lower-income, minority communities and neighborhoods. In the interview, Németh said that these zoning restrictions ultimately deepen the disparity between wealthier areas of the city and lower-income neighborhoods.

Andrew Rumbach, assistant professor of urban and regional planning, received two grants for research on international planning. The first, a $25,000 grant from CU Denver’s Office of Research Services, will allow Dr. Rumbach and two graduate students to travel to northeastern India to study flooding and landslide risk in fast-growing villages. The second, a teaching enhancement grant from the Center for Faculty Development, will help Dr. Rumbach and colleagues from the University of Michigan to evaluate a case-based approach to international planning pedagogy.

Austin Troy, professor and urban and regional planning and department chair, was elected to the governing board of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planners as the regional representative from the Central region of the U.S.

MURP Professor Lectures on International Planning in Asia

As part of its brown bag lunch lecture series, CU Denver’s American Planning Association Student Chapter (APAS) hosted College of Architecture and Planning (CAP) Assistant Professor Andrew Rumbach on October 11 to present a lecture on Marshes, Malls and Land Mafias: The Political Ecology of Flood Risk in Kolkata, India.

The presentation—which dovetails with Rumbach’s areas of research interest, including disasters and climate change, environmental risk, urban resilience, international planning, and small town and rural development—hosted about twenty students and faculty interested in learning more about his extensive work in south and southeast Asia.

During his lecture, Rumbach discussed how studying the root causes of flood risk in Asia drives his research, and examined three main sub-topics: how urbanization, flooding, and climate change affect Asian megacities; the specific case study of Kolkata in this context; and additional, in-depth information about the east Kolkata wetlands, which suffer from poor planning due to linkages between organized crime, local politics and real estate development.

Rumbach shared that by 2050, 6.4 billion people will live in cites, with 90% of this growth taking place in south Asia, southeast Asia, and Africa, which will contribute to the most radical shift in human settlement patterns in history. Due to this increasing global density, urbanization is becoming one of the main drivers of disaster likelihood in Asia, with the risk of environmental hazards—such as floods and storms—becoming more prevalent when a population’s level of vulnerability and exposure increases. Further, as urban governance through corrupt regimes plays a key role in the creation and distribution of resources critical to disaster risk reduction, much of the population often finds itself with unequal access to resources.

Rumbach further provided specific examples and photographs of these scenarios in Kolkata, India, and specifically the east Kolkata wetlands, which sits at the edge of the megacity and provides an estimated 50% of local demand for freshwater fish, but is subject to illegal land development that destroys this critical industry. Due to state power that is entrenched with the activity of local criminal groups, Rumbach’s presentation signified that a significant challenge to meaningful planning in the region remains.

“The brownbag was a great opportunity to share my research on Indian urbanization and environmental risk with students and colleagues. I look forward to future APAS organized events, which will greatly benefit the intellectual and research culture in the department and college,” Rumbach said.

For students interested in learning more about disaster and international development planning, Rumbach also noted the intersection between his areas of research and classes he teaches, including Natural and Built Environments, Disaster and Climate Change Planning, and Planning in the Developing World.

Brown bag lunch lectures are a part of APAS’ scheduled programming for the 2016-2017 school year. In addition to this lecture series, APAS offers opportunities for urban and regional planning students to participate in job shadowing, interdisciplinary walking tours, the annual Colorado American Planning Association conference, volunteer opportunities with non-profit organizations and more.  

Click here to learn more about APAS at CU Denver, including to visit their event calendar.

December 2015: MURP News and Faculty Updates

December 2015

  • Austin Troy, professor and chair of the Department of Planning and Design, published an article with Ashley Nunery and J. Morgan Grove, “The relationship between residential yard management and neighborhood crime: An analysis from Baltimore City and County,” in Landscape and Urban Planning (Volume 147, March 2016) that finds that active front yard landscaping is associated with lower crime.
  • Andrew Rumbach, assistant professor in the Department of Planning and Design, has two recent publications. He contributed several chapters to Rebuilding Community After Katrinaedited by John Forester and Ken Reardon, about planning education and disaster recovery in New Orleans. His article “Decentralization and Small Cities: Towards More Effective Urban Disaster Governance?” will be published in the March 2016 issue of the journalHabitat International. In the article Rumbach explores the impacts of government decentralization on the management of urban disaster risk in West Bengal, India.
  • Ken Schroeppel, Department of Planning and Design instructor and founder of the DenverInfill  and DenverUrbanism blogs, and the students in his two Planning Methods classes this fall were the subject of David Sachs’ entry “CU Denver Urban Planning Students Fill in Blanks on Denver’s Walkability” in Streetsblog Denver on December 15.  The students studied East Colfax and its surrounding neighborhoods from Broadway to Colorado Boulevard. They interviewed people, collected demographic information, cataloged the built environment, and rated intersections and sidewalks for a real client, WalkDenver.

Studying Landslide Risk in the Darjeeling District, West Bengal, India

By Andrew Rumbach

The Darjeeling District is a mountainous region in the northernmost part of the Indian state of West Bengal. Sitting in the foothills of the Himalayan Mountains, the Darjeeling District is a popular tourist destination, known for its natural beauty, mild climate, hiking, and world-famous tea.  Continue reading

MURP Professor Andy Rumbach Authors Study on Disaster Risk in Smaller Cities

September 7, 2015

Denver, CO – MURP Professor Andy Rumbach authored a new study on the increasing disaster risk of smaller cities that was published in the journal Habitat International last week. The study examines smaller urban areas in West Bengal, India and the unique challenges these areas face in terms of disaster management.

While planning for natural disasters is taking place in major urban centers around the world, Andy points out that “small cities are often far away from where decisions get made and struggle to insert themselves into the agenda of decision-making bodies.”

This is especially true in developing countries. Using the Darjeeling district, a mountainous region of West Bengal, as a case study, Andy highlights that despite the increased potential for heavy rains, runoff, unstable mountain slopes, and landslides, none of these potential hazards has been adequately planned for. The state disaster plan does not fully consider issues specific to the mountain regions. “As a result, the plan displays a poor understanding of local conditions and needs,” the study said. “Landslide hazards, which are a major threat to lives and property in the small cities of the Darjeeling district are a case in point.”

The study looks at the roles decentralization and local capacity building could play in better preparing smaller cities to cope with and respond to disasters. “One obvious recommendation is a more gradual decentralization of governance and funding, with significant support for capacity building at the local level,” Andy said. “Another recommendation would be to strengthen the role of non-governmental organizations and the private sectors, actors who are virtually absent from the existing [government] disaster management infrastructure in India.”


Decentralization and small cities: Towards more effective urban disaster governance?

By Andrew Rumbach


Decentralization, the devolution of fiscal, political, and administrative powers and responsibilities from centralized governments to local ones, has spread rapidly throughout Asia. Proponents of decentralization argue that it has the potential to improve local capacity for governing many challenging issues, including the management of hazards, disasters, and the effects of global climate change. Disaster governance is particularly challenging in small cities, communities that house a large portion of Asia’s urban population but where disaster management institutions, knowledge, and capacity are often lacking. Across Asia, a substantial portion of urban growth is occurring in small cities. This paper examines whether decentralization has led to more effective disaster governance in small cities in India, using the state of West Bengal as a case study. It finds that decentralization has created the potential for improved disaster governance, by providing constitutional and legal authority for improved urban governance and local disaster management plans and programs. In reality, however, decentralization has yet to significantly reduce urban disaster risk in small cities in West Bengal.

MURP Introduces New Summer Course in Kalimpong, India

February 20, 2015

MURP recently announced that it will be offering a new course on international field research this summer, which will include a two-week field research visit to Kalimpong, India, a small city in the foothills of the Himalayan Mountains.

The course, being led by MURP Assistant Professor Andy Rumbach, will address the human-caused drivers of landslide risk in the Darjeeling-Sikkim Himalayas. Students will work with faculty and a local partner organization to formulate a research design, develop research instruments, collect and analyze data, and write up results and recommendations.

Prior to leaving for India, students will learn about the history of the Darjeeling-Sikkim region, the origins and functions of “hill station” cities like Kalimpong, the environmental challenges facing this mountainous region, and Indian urban planning and development. Students will also study the research design process and gather the materials necessary for the site visit portion of the class.

In June, students will travel to India and undertake an intensive field research effort in and around the city of Kalimpong. The team will be working closely with Save the Hills, a community-based organization dedicated to raising awareness about earthquake and landslide threats in the Darjeeling-Sikkim Himalayas throughout the project.

Following the research trip, students will then reconvene in Denver and where they’ll finalize their report and make a final presentation to community partners via video-conference at the end of the summer semester.

MURP Professors Lay Groundwork for Collaboration in India

November 18, 2014

Kolkata and Kalimpong, India – Jeremy Németh and Andrew Rumbach, professors in the Department of Planning & Design, recently returned from a week in eastern India, where they were laying the groundwork for potential future teaching and research efforts in the region. Jeremy and Andy met with senior officials from the United States-India Educational Foundation in Kolkata and were invited speakers at an academic symposium focused on cities and development. The symposium was hosted by Centre for Built Environment and featured numerous speakers from Indian, European, and American universities.

They next visited Kalimpong, a small city in the Darjeeling District of West Bengal, near the Nepal and Chinese borders. There, they met with representatives from Save the Hills, a community-based organization focused on disaster risk reduction in the Darjeeling-Sikkim Himalayas, and toured areas affected by floods and landslides. Jeremy and Andy also spoke at a workshop on urban planning and disaster risk reduction, jointly sponsored by Save the Hills, North Bengal University, and the University of Colorado Denver.

The two met with several representatives from urban development departments in the region, as well as members of local environmental NGOs and professors from nearby colleges and universities.