Research

Suburban Decline

My dissertation work was largely quantitative but I revised and reworked this research into a book, massaging the empirical work in ways that made the story more engaging and suitable for a broader audience. This book, Once the American Dream: Inner Ring Suburbs of the Metropolitan United States, was published by Temple University Press in 2010. An important argument in this book is that suburbs that are declining have particular characteristics (e.g. built in the postwar period, located previously industrialized areas including parts of the Midwest and Northeast, high rates of ethnic and racial populations). A critical dimension of my book relates to the role of metropolitan governance structure and policies on the decline of certain suburbs and the expansion of others. Much of this regional context is further explored in my coauthored book (with John Rennie Short and Thomas J. Vicino), Cities and Suburbs: New Metropolitan Realities in the US, published by Routledge in 2010, and I have begun to investigate how local suburban governments in Ohio are developing policies to combat decline in their communities.

Suburban Growth and Redevelopment

The second focus of my research is suburban growth and redevelopment. During my time at the Center for Urban Environmental Research and Education at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, I was engaged in a number of projects related to suburban sprawl and growth management. I was involved in different research grants related to the environmental problems associated with suburbanization and the evolution and impact of smart growth policy, particularly within the context of Maryland. Two articles published from these grants, one (with Marie Howland and Mike McGuire) in the Journal of American Planning Association, the other a coauthored piece in Land Use Policy, reflect my interest in the relationship between planning and suburban growth patterns. Figuring out ways to better control suburban sprawl has been one of my research areas of interest.

In terms of policy and planning, one way to combat sprawl is to focus development in existing cities, towns and suburbs rather than out on the suburban fringe. From an urban design perspective, some suggest there is need to retrofit suburbs in ways that create mixed-use, denser, more walkable communities with a range of transit options. In my work, I investigate the nature and extent of suburban redevelopment within the context of policy and planning.

A More Global Context

More recently, I have expanded my work to consider the impacts of large-scale global social and economic processes on cities and suburbs in different countries and different regions of the world. For instance, my work on immigration in the suburbs has broadened in more recent times to include a global examination of the migration process. In March 2014, I, along with colleague Thomas Vicino, published a book, Global Migration: the Basics with Routledge. The book is a concise but comprehensive introduction to the topic of migration across the world. In the book, we examine, from a varied interdisciplinary perspective and across different geographies, the social, economic, historical, and political issues around the movement of people globally.