Access and Equity

Scholars in the Access and Equity research group investigate the nexus of theory and practice regarding issues of access, equity, social justice, representation, and power for underrepresented and underserved communities. We work across planning, community engagement, community development, urban design, nonprofit management, and public policy disciplines. Specifically, this group includes leading researchers in their respective fields who are examining the:

  • Praxis between policy, systemic inequality, and structural change
  • Relationships between art, education, community, and place for underrepresented and underserved communities
  • Role of design for both participatory processes as well as public spaces in supporting underrepresented and underserved communities for meaningful participation
  • Links between immigrant communities and placemaking
  • Organization and formation of interest/advocacy organizations

Information for PhD Applicants

Access and Equity is one of three research groups that support the PPPM PhD in Planning and Public Affairs. Students applying to the doctoral program should review the expertise of the Core PPPM faculty listed below to identify potential advisors.


Faculty in the Access and Equity research group have collaborated with communities in a wide range of contexts. This includes conducting research at international, urban, suburban, and rural levels.

Core PPPM faculty

  • José Meléndez: Civic engagement; design-based research; designing for equity, learning environments, and participatory processes; discourse analysis; activity systems; LatinX immigrants; collective and system level learning; and learning sciences

Participating PPPM faculty

Key Graduate Elective Classes

Current Research

Gentrification & Transit-Oriented Development: "Making Transit-Oriented Development Work in Low-Income Latino Neighborhoods: A comparative case study of Boyle Heights, Los Angeles and Barrio Logan, San Diego"

"Shadow Suburbanism: Mexican Everyday Life and Fear in Greater Atlanta"

"Oregon's Decision-Making Bodies: Diverse and Equitable Representation"

Relevant Media

Policy and Planning Trio Engages Diverse Communities

PPPM Becomes an Innovative Research Hub for Diversity in Planning, Policy, and Design