Eugenie L. Birch

Lawrence C. Nussdorf Professor of Urban Research and Education, Chair of the Graduate Group in City Planning
City & Regional Planning


A.B., Bryn Mawr College
M.S.U.P., Columbia University
Ph.D., Columbia University

Professor Birch is the Lawrence C. Nussdorf Chair of Urban Research and Education. She teaches courses in planning history, global urbanization and serves as chair, Graduate Group in City and Regional Planning , co-director, Penn Institute for Urban Research, co-editor, City in the 21st Century Series, University of Penn Press  and co-editor, SSRN Urban Research e-journal

Professor Birch has been active in the field's professional organizations and in academia in the United States and abroad. Most recently, she served as Chair, American Planning Association's Emerging Issues Task Force. She is currently President, International Planning History Society and Associate Editor, Journal of the American Planning Association. In the past, she has been President, Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning; President, Society of American City and Regional Planning History; and co-editor, Journal of the American Planning Association. She has been a member of the Planning Accreditation Board, having served as its chair from 2004-2006. She has been a member of the editorial boards of Planning Theory and Practice, Journal of Planning History, Journal of Planning Education and Research and Planning Perspectives. In 2000, she was elected to the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Certified Planners and made a member (honorary) of the Royal Town Planning Institute.

Professor Birch has been Visiting Scholar, Queens University, Foreign Scholar, University of Hong Kong and Visiting Professor, University of the Witswatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa. She lectures widely. In Fall 2012, she delivered the Burnham Lecture, National Building Museum, Washington DC.

The Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning has given her its three awards: the Distinguished Educator Award in recognition of her teaching and research (2009), the Jay Chatterjee Award for Distinguished Service that "recognizes an individual whose exceptional service, actions and leadership have had a lasting and positive impact on the ACSP"(2006) and the Margarita McCoy Award, "in recognition of her outstanding contribution to furthering the advancement of women in the planning academy" (1994). The Society of American City and Regional Planning History awarded her its Lawrence C. Gerckens Prize (2009) in recognition of her contributions to planning history.

The American Planning Association honored her with their APA President's Award in 2013.  This award is given out every other year in recognition of leadership in the field of planning.

Professor Birch's civic commitments encompass leadership positions locally and globally. Currently, she is chair, Board of Trustees, Municipal Art Society of New York (MAS) and co-chair, UN-HABITAT's World Urban Campaign (WUC). In the early 1990s she was a member of the New York City Planning Commission, and in 2002, she served on the jury to select the designers for the World Trade Center site.


Current projects include: project director, " EEB Research Digest," Energy Efficient Buildings Hub (Department of Energy, 2010 to present); " APEC Energy Working Group Energy Efficient Communities Initiative (Council of Economic Planning and Development, Chinese Taipei 2011-to present)," "Sustainable Communities Indicator Catalog," (Ford Foundation and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Transportation, and Environmental Protection Agency, 2011 to present); "Feeding Cities;: Food Security in a Rapidly Urbanizing World,"  (Office of the Vice Provost for Global Initiatives and Rockefeller Foundation, 2011 to present) "Mellon Foundation Humanities, Urbanism and Design," (Mellon Foundation 2013-2018, with David Brownlee). She is a co-convenor, Penn Roundtable on Anchor Institutions (2004 to present), and co-convenor, Rockefeller Foundation's Transforming Cities Seminar, Bellagio, Italy, 2013.


Dr. Birch has published widely on contemporary and historic urban planning and revitalization issues. Among her publications with Penn Press are: Women's Health and the World's Cities (co-edited with Afaf Meleis and Susan Wachter, 2011; pb 2013), Global Urbanization (co-edited with Susan Wachter, 2011) and Neighborhood and Life Chances (co-edited with Harriet Newberger and Susan Wachter, 2011; pb 2013 ). Other publications include: Urban and Regional Planning Reader.(Routledge, 2009), and Local Planning Contemporary Principles and Practice or the "Green Book" (co-edited with Gary Hack, Paul Sedway and Mitchell Silver, 2009). Other recent books are Growing Greener Cities, Urban Sustainability in the Twenty-First Century (2008) and Rebuilding Urban Places After Disaster, Lessons from Hurricane Katrina (2006), both edited with Susan M. Wachter. Her articles have appeared in the Journal of the American Planning Association, Journal of Planning Education and Research, Journal of Planning History, Journal of Urban History and Planning Magazine.

Other Recent Publications Include:

"Measuring US Urban Sustainability," in Moving to Sustainable Prosperity, State of the World 2012 (with Amy Lynch): Washington, DC: Island Press (2012)

"Living Downtown in the 21st Century, Past Trends and Future Policy Concerns," in Wagner, F. and R. Caves (eds), Community Liveablity (London: Routledge, 2012).

"Cities, People and Processes as Case Studies in Urban Planning, " in Crane, R. and R. Webber (eds), Oxford Handbook of Urban Planning (New York: Oxford, 2012).

"Making Urban Research Intellectually Respectable: Martin Meyerson and the Joint Center for Urban Studies of Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University, 1959-1964," Journal of Planning History (Summer: 2011)

"From CIAM to CNU: The Roots of Urban Design," in Banerjee, T. and A. Loukaitou-Sideris (eds), Urban Design Companion (London: Routledge: 2011)

"Downtown in the 'New American City,'" in Birch, E. and S.Wachter (eds), "The Shape of the New American City," The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 626 (November 2009)

"One Hundred Years of Planning," Journal of the American Planning Association 75: 2 (Spring, 2009): 113-122 (with Christopher Silver).

Forthcoming Publications:

Anchor Institutions and their Megaregional Influence," in Susan M. Wachter and Kimberly Zeuli, Revitalizing America's Cities (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, forthcoming).


Dr. Birch teaches Introduction to Planning History. Global Urbanization and Doctoral Seminar.

Centers & Progams

Dr. Birch is the founding co-Director of the Penn Institute for Urban Research.