Lisa Berglund

Assistant Professor


Phone: 902-494-1763
Fax: 902-423-6672
Mailing Address: 
Box 15000, 5410 Spring Garden Road,
Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, B3H 4R2
Research Topics:
  • Gentrification/Neighborhood change
  • Urban design
  • Community development
  • Critical urban theory


  • PhD 2017, Urban Planning, UCLA
  • MS 2011, Urban Design, Royal Institute of Technology
  • BS 2009, Architecture, University of Michigan


  • PLAN 5101 History and Theory of Planning
  • PLAN 5500 Planning Studio 2
  • PLAN 6101 History and Philosophy of Planning

Research Interests

Lisa’s research and teaching interests are at the intersection of community development and urban design. She focuses on community organizing and social movements in the context of neighborhood change, including processes like gentrification, displacement, and redevelopment. This research engages with communities to understand the policy obstacles and design practices that disenfranchise, and physically and culturally displace some groups from changing neighborhoods, and how these communities resist exclusionary planning practices. She has examined strategies and histories of resistance to environmental racism, and is currently researching the role of community benefits agreements to understand how benefits can be leveraged by communities whose tax dollars often subsidize rapid redevelopment of cities experiencing a ‘back to the city’ movement.

In addition to community organizing, she also examines the material components of the changing built environment in gentrifying areas, and the role of the urban design profession in creating places that are ripe for investment, but play to the exclusion of long standing communities. Through this work she has analyzed strategies like branding, participatory design and public space management to understand the messages embedded in the built environment, and how designers sometimes create sites that are attractive to capital and consumption, but are not inclusive. This work aims to uncover alternative, inclusive and justice oriented design practices, and develop critical urban design scholarship. Currently, she is examining the justice implications of urban design practices related to security and surveillance in privately operated public spaces, and the racial violence associated with such policing practices.

An important component of this work is understanding how communities develop their own ways of resisting, planning and designing through social mobilization and informal economic and placemaking strategies, considering these practices integral to the workings of cities. Drawing on the perspectives of politically marginalized urban populations, her work aims to share narratives of communities that are often left out of planning and design processes, and disproportionately pathologized and treated as objects ripe for policy intervention.

Selected Publications

  • Berglund, Lisa and Sam Butler (2021). “Detroit’s Community Benefits Ordinance: Setbacks and Opportunities to Giving Residents a Voice in Development”. Journal of Community Practice. DOI: 10.1080/10705422.2021.1881857.
  • Berglund, Lisa and Siobhan Gregory (eds.) (2020). The Aesthetics of Neighborhood Change. New York: Routledge.
  • Perry, Tam, Lisa Berglund, Julie Mah, Evan Villenueve, Claudia Sanford and Pam Schaeffer (2020). “Advocating for the Preservation of Senior Housing: A Coalition at Work Amid Gentrification in Detroit, Michigan”. Housing Policy Debate. DOI: 10.1080/10511482.2020.1806899.
  • Berglund, Lisa (2020). “Early Lessons from Detroit’s Community Benefits Ordinance”.  Journal of the American Planning Association. DOI: 10.1080/01944363.2020.1823243.
  • Berglund, Lisa (2020). “Critiques of the Shrinking Cities Literature from an Urban Political Economy Framework”. Journal of Planning Literature. DOI: 10.1177/0885412220928507.
  • Berglund, Lisa (2020). “The Shrinking City as a Growth Machine: Detroit’s Reinvention of Growth through Triage, Foundation Work, and Talent Attraction”. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research. DOI: 10.1111/1468-2427.12858.
  • Berglund, Lisa (2018). “Excluded by Design: Informality versus Tactical Urbanism in the Redevelopment of Detroit Neighborhoods”. Journal of Cultural Geography. DOI: 10.1080/08873631.2018.1516600
  • Berglund, Lisa (2018). “‘We’re Forgotten’: The Role of Active Disinvestment in Shaping Place Attachment and Collective Action in Detroit’s 48217 Neighborhood”. Journal of Urban Affairs. DOI: 10.1080/07352166.2018.1454819

Membership and Service

  • Faculty of Architecture and Planning Equity Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Committee, chair
  • Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning (ACSP), member
  • Shrinking Cities International Research Network (SCIRN), member
  • Planners Network, member
  • American Association of Geographers (AAG), member