UH Manoa Department of Urban and Regional Planning Research Highlight: Winter 2020

This article highlights publications by two of the UH Manoa Department of Urban and Regional Planning’s new faculty members. These faculty members are Dr. Hayden Shelby and Dr. Dan Milz. Additional information on Dr. Shelby and Dr. Milz as well as their publications that we're highlighting is below.

Hayden Shelby

Hayden Shelby is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning. She teaches in the core planning curriculum and the community planning stream.

The inability of millions across the world to access land and shelter is one of the most pressing concerns facing cities of the twenty-first century. Hayden is interested in how community-based planning and organizing can expand the political capacity of marginalized groups to access urban land and exercise rights in the city.

Her research centers around issues of land rights, democracy, and social justice, both in the U.S. and in Southeast Asia. Most recently, she has investigated the politics of a community-based slum upgrading program in Thailand. She examines how different government agencies and community-based social movements interact to make the policy function, focusing on the community organizing techniques employed by different actors.

Why Place Really Matters: A Qualitative Approach to Housing Preferences and Neighborhood Effects


The idea that a person’s neighborhood or zip code can predict his or her life outcomes has motivated a host of housing policies aimed at redressing racial segregation and breaking up areas of concentrated poverty. This article critically examines underlying assumptions about high-poverty neighborhoods that motivate those policies. Using ethnographic methods, I present the location preferences of residents living in a low-income neighborhood in Columbus, Ohio, and show the ways in which their perceptions of their neighborhood run counter to common portrayals. This analysis provides clues as to why the underlying logic of dispersal and mobility may be flawed. I conclude that place matters very much to people living in this neighborhood, just not in the way commonly implied by dispersal and mobility policy advocates. The implication is that stability, rather than mobility, ought to be the focus of more housing discussions. 

UH Manoa students can access a digital copy of Hayden's article via the UH Manoa Library online portal. Readers who are not UHM students can contact Hayden at hshelby@hawaii.edu for a copy of her study.

Dan Milz

Dan Milz is an Assistant Professor with a dual appointment in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning and the Matsunaga Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution. He teaches in the Environmental Planning and Sustainability Course Stream and in the Matsunaga Institute’s Conflict Resolution Certificate Program. Dr. Milz studies the science and politics of environmental planning by analyzing how people think about ecological systems as they make plans and propose new policies. His research agenda has three components. First, it investigates the cognitive aspects of practical environmental judgments in participatory settings to observe how stakeholders learn to make better plans. Second, he researches the role that data visualization tools play in supporting planning processes. Finally, he explores how professional facilitators help local stakeholders improve planning and policy outcomes. Dr. Milz has studied regional wastewater planning on Cape Cod, water supply planning in the Chicago region, community green infrastructure planning in urban neighborhoods, and stakeholder learning in community engagement processes.

How planners and stakeholders learn with visualization tools: using learning sciences methods to examine planning processes

J. Radinsky, D. Milz, M. Zellner, K. Pudlock, C. Witek, C. Hoch and L. Lyons


Planning researchers traditionally conceptualize learning as cognitive changes in individuals. In this tradition, scholars assess learning with pre- and post-measures of understandings or beliefs. While valuable for documenting individual change, such methods leave unexamined the social processes in which planners think, act, and learn in groups, which often involve the use of technical tools. The present interdisciplinary research program used Learning Sciences research methods, including conversation analysis, interaction analysis, and visualization of discourse codes, to understand how tools like agent-based models and geographic information systems mediate learning in planning groups. The objective was to understand how the use of these tools in participatory planning can help stakeholders learn about complex environmental problems, to make more informed judgments about the future. The paper provides three cases that illustrate the capacity of such research methods to provide insights into planning groups’ learning processes, and the mediating roles of planning tools.

Readers can contact Dan at dmilz@hawaii.edu or the APA-HI newsletter for a copy of this study.