Doctor of Philosophy in Urban Planning


Director: Ph.D. Urban Planning


Robert A. Beauregard, Elizabeth Blackmar, Lance Freeman, Ester Fuchs, Jeffrey Henig, Clara Irazabal, Kenneth T. Jackson, Ira Katznelson, David King, Peter Marcuse, Mary McLeod, Richard R. Nelson, Jorge Otero-Pailos, Elliot Sclar, Smita Srinivas, Stacey Sutton

Affiliated Faculty

David Smiley, Mabel Wilson, Vittoria Di Palma, Reinhold Martin, Felicity Scott, Kenneth Frampton

The Ph.D. program in urban planning has as its goal the education and training of scholars and researchers in the general field of urban and regional planning. Substantive areas of study include such policy areas as affordable housing, regional transportation planning, urban economic development, and international development. These substantive concerns are approached both theoretically and methodologically. In the former instance, students draw, for example, from organization theory, neo-classical economics, participatory democracy, and law. In the latter instance, they utilize key informant interviews, statistical analysis of secondary data, mixed methods, and case study design among other research designs. Emphasis within the program is given to the role of space and of collective action on the part of governments and civic organizations. Of particular concern are issues of social justice and democracy.


Jose Antonio Ramirez
Jose’s long-standing academic interests revolve around regimes governing in Latin American cities, with a particular focus on notions of urban development, planning knowledge, governance and citizenship, as well as practices of spatial segregations and urban displacement. His current research focuses on the planning and implementation of urban redevelopment policies in downtown Bogotá.

Jigar Bhatt
Jigar’s work focuses broadly on how economic knowledge constitutes a form of power and shapes our social and built environment. His doctoral research will focus on how planners’ routine tools and methods (e.g. indicators, rankings, evaluations) influence governance agendas and development outcomes and whether/how they can be adapted to better serve goals of equity and inclusion. He has also conducted research on the political economy of basic service delivery, particularly water supply, in the Global South.

Amanda Bradshaw
Amanda is broadly interested in how ideas of nature and the environment are represented and constructed through urban infrastructures. Her research focuses on the politics of flooding and water management in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Adele Cassola
Adele's work is broadly concerned with the socio-spatial dynamics of housing and redevelopment policies. Her research currently focuses on measuring the incidence and impacts of residential displacement among low-income households in gentrifying areas and comparing policy approaches to preserving housing affordability in place. She is also increasingly interested in the social and spatial planning issues involved in housing ageing populations.

Lauren Ames Fischer
Lauren’s research falls into the broad categories of metropolitan spatial form, transportation policy and economic development with a particular interest on the impacts of transport investments in cities facing disinvestment and decline. Her dissertation examines the implementation of modern streetcar projects including the politics surrounding siting and design decisions, the factors influencing financing and governance arrangements and the use of local subsidies and land use policies to stimulate property development.

Jonas Hagen
Jonas has a BA and MS in Urban Affairs from Hunter College (CUNY). Prior to beginning his PhD at Columbia, he worked as a journalist at the United Nations and as a program director in Brazil for the Institute for Transport and Development Policy (ITDP). His research interests include land use and transportation as related to the environment and public health.

Yunjing Li
Yunjing Li’s research is concerned with urban environmental governance and focused on social effects and planning implications of the transition to carbon-oriented environmental discourse. She is now looking at how China’s initiatives for developing renewable energy in urban areas, in particular microgeneration schemes, are framed by and reframing its planning and environmental regulation systems.

Xiaohong Pan
Xiaohong has a background in both transportation engineering and urban planning. Prior to joining the urban planning doctoral program at Columbia, she worked as an assistant development engineer/policy analyst at the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. Xiaohong is particularly interested in areas related to sustainable transportation and land use planning such as built environment and public health; travel behavior; transportation solutions for elderly and other demographic groups that need special attention.

Danielle L. Petretta
Danielle is most interested in value capture finance and the ways in which this method might provide more reliable funding for transport systems through the equitable redistribution of costs among a wide group of beneficiaries.

Valerie Stahl
Valerie broadly studies the impacts of gentrification, poverty concentration, and spatial isolation on low-income communities. Her mixed-methods research focuses on neighborhood effects and the evolution of affordable housing provision in the United States, with a particular interest in maintaining highly subsidized forms of housing in areas of accelerated development in New York City.

Matteo Stiglich
Matteo conducts research on the political economy of the privatization of infrastructure and urban renewal in Lima, Peru. He is looking particularly at mega-projects driven by the privatization of transportation infrastructure in the context of power imbalances between large corporations, the local state and low-income residents.

Julie Touber
Julie is interested in political economy of development. Her research focuses on the functioning of property rights in Africa and she uses Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso as her case study. The African urban setting and its booming urbanization challenge the institutions in place and offer an amazing framework to redefine the role of institutions and economic growth.

John West
John West is a planning scholar who is interested in how city governments understand urban problems, how they expect urban residents to participate in fixing them and how technology mediates this relationship. His current focus is urban policies in New York City that sought to achieve collective benefit by shaping the choices of individual city-dwellers using information communication technologies. His work draws on scholarship from the field of Science and Technology Studies and engages with three aspects of Urban Planning theory and practice – the role of citizen participation or input in plan making and execution, the use of economic theory and market-like systems to address urban problems, and the part played by ‘smart city’ technologies in producing new urban policy systems. His dissertation, “Rule of Choice: Technology and Politics in Three Policy Innovations in New York City,” examines congestion pricing, school choice and restaurant grading, three policies that seek to manage urban problems through guided individual choice.

*This list is not exhaustive. Please use the Columbia student directory to find someone not listed here.

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