Michael Hooper is an Assistant Professor of Urban Planning at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design. He joined Harvard after working for several years with the United Nations Development Programme, including a year spent on secondment to the Kenya Ministry of Planning in Nairobi. He remains affiliated with the United Nations as a member of the Technical Advisory Committee for the UN Equator Prize. Hooper’s research interests focus on the politics of land use and urbanization, participatory planning and governance, and urban dimensions of international development. He currently works on projects related to forced evictions and involuntary resettlement, the politics of post-disaster reconstruction, the influence of perceptual biases on urban decision making, the management of urban informality in developing world cities and aboriginal housing policy in Canada. At the GSD, Hooper leads the Urban Planning and Design thesis program and serves as Director of the Social Agency Lab, an interdisciplinary research group that studies the ways in which individuals, institutions and organizations shape social outcomes in cities.
Professor Hooper began university at National Taiwan Normal University in Taipei and received undergraduate and master’s degrees from McGill University and MIT. He completed his PhD at Stanford University, where he conducted research on forced evictions and resettlement in Tanzania. He has been a visiting research fellow at the University of Oxford and the Nordic Africa Institute in Uppsala, Sweden. Professionally, he is a chartered town planner in the United Kingdom and a certified planner in the United States and Canada. He has received a number of awards and fellowships, including a doctoral fellowship from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and the Graham Family, Robert Kirby and Richard Goldsmith Fellowships from Stanford University. He received the Urban Planning and Design teaching award from GSD students in 2011 and 2013.