Trained in planning and architecture, Ann Forsyth works mainly on the social aspects of physical planning and urban development. The big issue behind her research and practice is how to make more sustainable and healthy cities. Forsyth's contributions have been to analyze the success of planned alternatives to sprawl, particularly exploring the tensions between social and ecological values in urban design.
Several issues prove to be the most difficult to deal with in planning better places and provide a focus for some of her more detailed investigations: suburban design, walkability, affordable housing, social diversity, and appropriate green space. In doing this work she has created a number of tools and methods in planning—an urban design inventory, GIS protocols, health impact assessments, and participatory planning techniques.
Forsyth is also a reflective practitioner/theorist and has created several new ways of understanding social and intellectual diversity in planning and design. Her education includes a B.Sc. in architecture from the University of Sydney, M.A. in urban planning from UCLA, and Ph.D. in city and regional planning from Cornell.
At Harvard Forsyth is a Senior Faculty Fellow at Harvard's Joint Center for Housing Studies, an affiliated Faculty Member, Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies, a Faculty Associate at the Harvard University Center for the Environment, and a Faculty Associate at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs.