I am an Urban Planning professor at Ball State University, who writes about the cities, governance and both the prescribed and unexpected ways that the public participates in remaking policies and spaces. I am particularly interested in the tension between planners conceiving of the public as consumers versus planners conceiving of the public as civic agents. I have explored this tension through research and writing on market-based urban governance strategies, including demand management transportation policies, school choice, restaurant grading and housing vouchers. I am currently leading a civic engagement project responding to the disappearance of the market for housing in Muncie, Indiana. I am the founding president of the board of directors of a land bank: VALUE Muncie.
My core interest is in how planners, policy makers and politicians construct roles that they expect people to fit into: the consumer, the advocate, or the rational individual. These roles are constructed out of ideas about the appropriate role of the government and the governed. They are also made using surveillance, data gathering and analysis technologies. I am equally fascinated by the ways that these constructed roles fail to anticipate the creativity, resilience and recalcitrance of urban residents. To understand the messy, contingent and relational process of governance in contemporary cities, I use a combination of ethnographic, participatory and historical research.