Professor — Ph. D., Cornell University
areas of interest
Civic engagement and dialogue; participatory planning; international development; community development; sustainable social development
Current Research, Scholarship and Teaching
Dr. Wilson teaches international development, public participation, and conflict resolution skills. Her research focuses on individual and social transformation, strengthening civil society, and community-building. She uses the methods of appreciative inquiry, social narrative, and participatory action research, and draws upon the theories of communicative action, social learning, and holistic emergent systems. Current and recent projects include participatory neighborhood recovery planning in New Orleans and women's empowerment for collaborative leadership in rural India.
Dr. Wilson holds a B.A. in economics from Stanford and a Master's and Ph.D. in Planning from Cornell. She has worked in economic development planning at the local and Federal level, for the City of San Francisco and the Economic Development Administration in Washington, DC. She has also worked in grassroots community development in Hispanic neighborhoods in San Francisco and Austin, and was the principal investigator for a national study of subemployment and the urban underclass. At the University of Texas, she designed the economic development concentration in planning and developed the Joint Master's Program in Planning and Latin American Studies.
Dr. Wilson began her international development work in the mid-1970s in Latin America, where she taught regional economics at the Universidad Catolica in Lima, Peru, and regional development planning at the Universidad Nacional de Ingenieria, also in Lima. Her research and consulting has focused on integrated regional development, export-led development, decentralization and municipal strengthening, and most recently democratization and participation. Besides Peru, she has worked in Mexico, El Salvador, Panama, Colombia, Bolivia, and Chile. From 1990 to 1992 she served as president of the Sociedad Interamericana de Planificacion, the professional society of Latin American planners. She has published three books and numerous articles on planning and development in Latin America, including Exports and Local Development: Mexico's New Maquiladoras (University of Texas Press, 1992). Recent field work has been in Peru and India.
- CRP 381 Participatory Planning
- CRP 388 Deep Democracy
- CRP 381 International Sustainable Social Development
- "The Unlettered Leader: Strengthening Civil Society through Dialogue and Social Learning in Rural India," Columbia Teachers College Conference on Democratic Practices as Learning Opportunities, New York City, Nov. 2005 (with Varun Vidyarthi)
- "Democracia Plena: La Practica del Compromiso Civico en el Desarrollo Comunitario," Ciudades 67, 2005 (with Hugo Rincon)
- "Deep Democracy: The Inner Practice of Civic Engagement," Fieldnotes 3, 2004
- "Building Deep Democracy: The Story of a Grassroots Learning Organization in South Africa," Planning Forum 9, Spring 2003, 47-64 (with Christina Lowery).
- "Building Social Capital: A Learning Agenda for the 21st Century," Urban Studies, 34:5-6, 1997, 745-760.
- "Embracing Locality in Local Economic Development," Urban Studies, 32:4-5, 1995, 645-658.
- "Empowerment: Community Economic Development from the Inside Out," Urban Studies, 33:4-5, 1996, 617-630.
- "El Empoderamiento: Desarrollo Economico Comunitario Desde Adentro Hacia Afuera" Ecuador Debate, Vol. 44, 1998, 143-162.
Selected Book Reviews
- Peter Senge, C. Otto Scharmer, Joseph Jaworski, and Betty Sue Flowers. Presence: Human Purpose and the Field of the Future, in The Collaborative Edge Spring-Summer 2005.
- Frederick Steiner, Human Ecology: Following Nature's Lead, in Planning Forum, Vol. 9, Spring 2003, pp. 102-105.
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