Susan Fainstein with Sai Balakrishnan and Cuz Potter, “The Challenge of Applying Theory to Planning Practice”

Susan Fainstein book signing

Susan S. Fainstein is a Lecturer and Senior Research Fellow in the Harvard Graduate School of Design. Her book The Just City was published in 2010 by Cornell University Press. Among her other publications are The City Builders: Property, Politics, and Planning in London and New York; Restructuring the City; and Urban Political Movements, as well as edited volumes on urban tourism, planning theory, urban theory, and gender and 100 book chapters and articles. Her research interests include planning theory, urban theory, urban redevelopment, and comparative urban policy. She received the Distinguished Educator Award and the Davidoff Book Award of the ACSP.

Dr. Fainstein has been a professor of planning at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation at Columbia University, and the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University. She has been a visiting professor at, among others, the University of Amsterdam and the National University of Singapore. She was an editor of the International Journal of Urban and Regional Research and of Ethnic and Racial Studies and been a consultant to various public organizations.

She received her A.B. from Harvard University in government, her M.A. from Boston University in African Studies, and her Ph.D. in political science from MIT.


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. She has also worked as an urban planner in the United States, India, and the United Arab Emirates, 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 organisation which studies and disseminates tools for inclusive land resource allocation in rapidly urbanising countries.

Through her research and teaching, Balakrishnan focuses on institutions for governing rapid urbanization, and on the spatial politics of land-use and property. Her work has been published in Pacific Affairs, Economic and Political Weekly, and in edited book chapters. Her book, titled “Shareholder Cities: Agrarian to Urban Land Transformations along Economic Corridors in Liberalizing India” is forthcoming from University of Pennsylvania Press.

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.


Cuz Potter (Columbia University, MSUP, MIA, PhD) is currently associate professor of international development and cooperation at Korea University’s Division of International Studies. His current research focuses on the role of the Korean construction industry in the uneven spatial development of developing countries, especially Myanmar and Vietnam. Past research has focused on social justice in developing and implementing infrastructure services, particularly in regard to how technological change in the logistics industry has undermined the territorial foundation of port policy in the US. He has also coauthored work on Nairobi’s slums for the World Bank, on US urban revitalization for the Korean government, urban entrepreneurialism in China, and on industrial districts. He is a co-editor of and contributor to Searching for the Just City, an interrogation of Susan Fainstein’s concept of the Just City. He has consulted for a number of firms and organizations in New York City and Seoul. He also spent three years editing and translating for the Korean Ministries of Environment and Labor.

Click here to access a downloadable PDF of Fainstein: Fragmented States and Pragmatic Improvements  by Balakrishnan and Potter.

This program is supported by the Sylvester Baxter Lecture Fund

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