IATH Fellow Suzanne Moomaw, Associate Professor of Urban and Environmental Planning, is now in the second year of her Cities Without Work project. Her life-long interest in cities and what makes them work (or not) and her experience in both the private and public sectors have given her insights into the ongoing challenges cities face in the boom and bust cycles that can threaten jobs, civic and urban planning and investment, and state and local development.
She is interested in "the competitive advantage of how cities are designed, physically and socially," she says, since "we keep making the same mistakes." There are some inherent advantages that appear to favor one location over another, but things may not be as clear-cut as they seem. "While some of this might be luck, most of the time it is about how a community came together and the kinds of investments it made in each other."
This interest in the role community plays in the ebb and flow of the fortunes of cities is part of what has led her teams of students who have studied and collaborated with local communities that were dependent on coal mining for jobs and economic survival. Expanding this beyond the classroom, Prof. Moomaw recently joined with Engaged UVA, a new outreach effort begun by UVA President James Ryan aimed at improving relationships between the University and the local community. The effort includes radio spots and a web collection of initiatives and associated faculty, student, courses, and community partners. IATH also independently maintains several community projects that support academic outreach activities on a local, national, and international scale.