Sai Balakrishnan

Assistant Professor of Urban Planning

Sai Balakrishnan is an Assistant Professor of Urban Planning at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design. Prior to that, she was an Assistant Professor in International Development at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University, and served as a Postdoctoral Scholar at Columbia Law School’s Center on Global Legal Transformations. Balakrishnan has also worked as an urban planner in the United States, India, and the United Arab Emirates, and as a consultant to the UN-HABITAT in Nairobi, Kenya; and has served as a Research Fellow at the Land Governance Laboratory (LGLab), a Cambridge-based not-for-profit organization, which studies and disseminates tools for inclusive land resource allocation in rapidly urbanizing countries.

Through her research and teaching interests, Balakrishnan focuses on institutions for managing rapid urbanization, comparative land-use planning, and property rights. Her work has been published in Pacific Affairs (for which she won the outstanding article published in 2013) and in two forthcoming edited volumes, one on India's political economy (Cambridge University Press) and the other on informal real estate markets (Penn Press). She is also currently developing a book manuscript on the rapid urbanization and land conflicts along highways in India, the new hybrid organizations that are emerging to manage these in-between highway regions, and the governance and distributional implications of these urban transformations.

Balakrishnan holds a Master’s Degree in City Planning from MIT, a Master’s Degree in Urban Design from the University of Michigan, and a PhD in Urban Planning from Harvard University. Her doctoral dissertation was awarded the 2014 Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning (ACSP) Gill Chin Lim Award for Best Dissertation on International Planning.