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Joan Fitzgerald, Ph.D. - Global Resilience Institute. Boston, MA, US

Joan Fitzgerald, Ph.D. Joan Fitzgerald, Ph.D.

Professor, School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs, Northeastern University | Faculty Affiliate, Global Resilience Institute


Joan Fitzgerald focuses the connections between urban sustainability and economic development and innovation.





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Joan Fitzgerald: IDEAS Boston at UMass Boston 2011 JOAN FITZGERALD Open Classroom - 9/5/12 - #1 - Joan Fitzgerald




Joan Fitzgerald focuses on urban climate governance and the connections between urban sustainability and economic development and innovation. Her third book, Emerald Cities: Urban Sustainability and Economic Development (Oxford Univ. Press), examines how cities are creating economic development opportunities in several green sectors and discusses the state and national policy needed to support these efforts. Emerald Cities builds on her 2002 book, Economic Revitalization: Strategies and Cases for City and Suburb (Sage), which identifies strategies for incorporating sustainability and social justice goals into urban economic development planning. In 2012 she published a three-volume anthology, Cities and Sustainability. Fitzgerald has published in academic journals such as Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy, Local Environment, Economic Development Quarterly, Urban Affairs Quarterly, Urban Affairs, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, and the political quarterly, The American Prospect. Her academic and consulting work has been supported by the Funders Network for Smart Growth and Sustainable Communities, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur, Annie E. Casey, Rockefeller Brothers, Rockefeller, Surdna, Century, and Robert Wood Johnson Foundations and the Urban Sustainability Directors’ Network. She has also conducted research for the U.S. Department of Labor, the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, the Boston Housing Authority and other government agencies. She is currently working on her next book, Greenovation: Urban Leadership on Climate Action, which examines how cities advance green technologies. In addition, she is examining governance of green storm water infrastructure. She teaches “Cities, Sustainability and Climate Change” and “Urban Revitalization.” Before coming to Northeastern University, Joan taught urban planning and policy at the New School University, the University of Illinois at Chicago, and Ohio State University.

Areas of Expertise (4)

Economic Development Urban Climate Governance Governance and Incentives Urban Sustainability

Education (3)

The Pennsylvania State University: Ph.D., Community Systems Planning and Development 1988

The Pennsylvania State University: M.A., Sociology 1984

The Pennsylvania State University: B.A., Sociology 1979

With highest distinction, Phi Beta Kappa

Media Appearances (5)

Residents of Cape Town Are Counting Down to ‘Day Zero’

NOVA Next  online


Cape Town, South Africa might be paradise at the bottom of the world, but it’s quickly becoming the first major city in a developed nation to run out of water.

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What’s Next for the City of Boston

News @ Northeastern  online


What will the city of Boston look like in 2030?

That’s the focus of this fall’s Open Classroom series, which will be held on Wednesdays from 6-8 p.m. in 20 West Village F from Sept. 6 to Dec. 13.

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Tilting at Windmills

The American Prospect  online


leveland has been trying to develop offshore wind turbines on Lake Erie since 2004. After many false starts, construction on a pilot program will start in 2018, helped along by Project Icebreaker, which will allow year-round production in the partly frozen lake. Should this six-turbine wind farm on Lake Erie be successful, a new wind-powered energy grid could be developed along the southern shores of all the Great Lakes.

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Is Boston ready for climate change?

Boston Globe  online


Last week’s Boston Globe story indicating that Boston will experience more flooding sooner than thought due to climate change came as no surprise. Scientists monitoring the ice sheet in the Arctic and Greenland noted that it was melting faster than predicted in April. But, is Boston doing enough to prepare?

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The Politics of Climate Change

News @ Northeastern  online


For years, scientists, politicians, and other stakeholders have debated the existence of climate change and its impact on the environment. But the devastating impact of Hurricane Sandy appears to have been a tipping point in the national conversation.

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Articles (1)

Eco-districts: can they accelerate urban climate planning? Environment and Planning C: Politics and Space

Jennifer Lenhart, Joan Fitzgerald


Despite signing the Mayors Climate Change Agreement, few US cities have made significant progress in either climate mitigation or adaptation. For the most part, European cities have been more effective, albeit with assistance from the European Union and their national governments. Several of the most successful European cities have implemented eco-districts, which have offered many lessons for overall sustainability planning. Using Malmö, Sweden as a case study, we ask how planners and elected officials learned from implementing an eco-district, focusing on experimentation with new technologies and approaches to planning. We identify how “double-loop learning”, a term coined by Argyris and Shön, was at play in changing planning practice. As eco-districts are catching on in North American cities, there is much to be learned from European practice.

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