Chapple Earns ACSP John Friedmann Book Award

November 14, 2018

A Closer Look with Karen Chapple, PhD

John Friedmann Book Award Winner

The ACSP John Friedmann Book Award is presented biennially to a book (or comparable work) that best exemplifies scholarship in the area of planning for sustainable development.

The 2018 winner of the ACSP John Friedmann Book Award is Planning Sustainable Cities and Regions: Towards More Equitable Development by Karen Chapple.

Karen Chapple, Ph.D., is a professor of City and Regional Planning at the University of California, Berkeley. Chapple, who holds the Carmel P. Friesen Chair in Urban Studies, studies the governance, planning, and development of regions in the U.S. and Latin America, with a focus on housing and economic development. Chapple recently accepted this award at the ACSP Annual Conference in Buffalo, New York.

The award selection committee which included: Scott Campbell, Chair, University of Michigan; Julian Agyeman, Tufts University; Phil Berke, Texas A&M University; and Lisa Schweitzer, University of Southern California had this to say about Chapple’s work …

“We are pleased to select Karen Chapple’s book as the 2018 winner of the John Friedmann Book Award. The award committee found Chapple’s book to be rigorously well researched, smartly written, and a rare text that effectively integrates (rather than just make nods to) often-divergent planning themes: sustainability, regionalism, gentrification, economic development, housing and social justice. She effectively uses the San Francisco Bay Area as both a model of innovative practice and an example of where our efforts fall far short. Her book brings together case studies with thoughtful analysis, theory and critique. Chapple’s writing both presents a strong critique of existing planning practices and offers a compelling and constructive set of alternative strategies.

The book strongly fits both the letter and spirit of the Friedmann Award: its explicit focus on a broad conception of sustainability, including both economic development and social justice, with a strong regionalist narrative and a comparison of different geographic scales. It also ‘offers innovation in conceptualizing planning institutions’ and ‘addresses the role of planner beyond technical analyst’ (to quote the Friedmann Award criteria).

Among all the submitted texts, we found Chapple’s the most sweeping and demanding. She offers theoretically-driven evidence on why planners and others need to rethink conventional practices like smart growth, transit-oriented development and many other activities in planning for cities. She is convincing that the growing inequality challenges planning scholars and practitioners to fundamentally rethink how and why we do planning.”

In addition to this award-winning book, Chapple has also written Transit-Oriented Displacement or Community Dividends? Understanding the Effects of Smarter Growth on Communities (with Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris, MIT Press, 2019), and Fragile Governance and Local Economic Development: Theory and Evidence from Peripheral Regions in Latin America (with Sergio Montero, Routledge, 2018). She has published recently on a broad array of subjects, including the fiscalization of land use (in Landscape and Urban Planning), urban displacement (in the Journal of Planning Literature and Cityscape), community investment (in the Journal of Urban Affairs), job creation on industrial land (in Economic Development Quarterly), regional governance in rural Peru (in the Journal of Rural Studies), and accessory dwelling units as a smart growth policy (in the Journal of Urbanism).

In Fall 2015, she launched the Urban Displacement Project, a research portal examining patterns of residential, commercial, and industrial displacement, as well as policy and planning solutions. In 2015, Chapple's work on climate change and tax policy won the UC-wide competition for the Bacon Public Lectureship, which promotes evidence-based public policy and creative thinking for the public good. Chapple also received the 2017 UC-Berkeley Chancellor's Award for Research in the Public Interest. She received a Fulbright Global Scholar Award for 2017-2018 to explore expanding the Urban Displacement Project to cities in Europe and Latin America. 

Chapple holds a B.A. in Urban Studies from Columbia University, an M.S.C.R.P from the Pratt Institute, and a Ph.D. from UC Berkeley. She has served on the faculties of the University of Minnesota and the University of Pennsylvania, in addition to UC Berkeley. From 2006-2009, she held the Theodore Bo and Doris Shoong Lee Chair in Environmental Design. Since 2006, she has served as faculty director of the UC Berkeley Center for Community Innovation, which has provided over $1.5 million in technical assistance to community-based organizations and government agencies. She is a founding member of the MacArthur Foundation's Research Network on Building Resilient Regions. Prior to academia, Chapple spent ten years as a practicing planner in economic development, land use, and transportation in New York and San Francisco.

Here’s “A Closer Look” at our award winner:

Q: How did you feel upon accepting the award?
A: I am incredibly honored and humbled to receive the John Friedmann Book Award. I am an avid fan of Friedmann's remarkable opus, from beginning to end: I consult his work on regionalism frequently, I assign his economic development writings to my classes, and my one requirement across all PhD orals exams in planning is that the students read Friedmann's Planning in the Public Domain.

Q: Who do you want to thank, if anyone?
A: I am very grateful to the committee for reading and selecting my book. I also thank my department, particularly Prof. Elizabeth Macdonald, for nominating me, and the anonymous letter writers who took the time to testify to my work. Those who have read the work know that it is somewhat of a tribute to Prof. Mike Teitz, so I thank him as well.

Q: What inspires you about the work for which you won your award? 
A: Writing that book allowed me to show my contrarian colors, raising questions about whether well-intentioned planning dogma leads to equitable outcomes. Smart growth efforts may displace residents and middle-wage jobs; conventional economic development practices draw on outdated theories that ignore growing income inequality; and efforts to improve regional opportunity may violate the right to the city and impair individual capabilities to achieve their dreams.

Q: What's next?
A: Two books are coming out this year, one examining the relationship between rail transit and displacement (spoiler: transit displaces few residents, but we should still enact anti-displacement policies), and the other examining how peripheral regions in Latin America deal with the decentralization of economic development (continuing in the spirit of Friedmann's work on institutions and Latin America). The next book will explore how big data allows us to reconstruct our outdated urban policies and build greater consensus about our joint urban and regional futures.

Congratulations to Chapple and all of our #ACSP2018 award winners,  For a complete list of awards and winners, visit our website.