My name is Patrick Cooper-McCann, or Cooper for short. I am an Assistant Professor of Urban Studies and Planning at Wayne State University in Detroit.

I grew up just north of Detroit, in the inner ring suburb of Hazel Park. My research and teaching are driven by a commitment to making metropolitan areas like the one I grew up in more equitable and sustainable. I have a master’s and Ph.D. in urban and regional planning, but I bring a historical and interdisciplinary perspective to my research. In addition to urban planning, my work is in conversation with scholarship on urban design, urban history, urban sociology, urban geography, and African American studies.

I’m currently doing research in two areas. One project examines the history and geography of urban shrinkage in the United States. Since 2019, I have been working on a study of population and household loss within Metro Detroit. The project aims to clarify where, when, and why shrinkage has occurred at the local and neighborhood levels over the past century. The broader goal is to identify more effective and equitable policies to stop the unnecessary, racially-biased abandonment of older neighborhoods across the United States Rust Belt.

My second project focuses on the evolution of urban governance and the effects of different governing arrangements on racial and social equity. My dissertation investigated how and why the provision of urban parkland has changed in Detroit since the early 1800s, with different levels of government and different organizations in the for-profit and nonprofit sectors taking on different responsibilities. I found that the structure of park governance affected socioeconomic and racial equity at a metropolitan scale, influencing which kinds of spaces and facilities got funded, how many spaces and facilities were provided, where they were provided, for whom they were provided, and who set these priorities. I am currently working on a series of related articles that explain how the governance of urban parks in the United States changed between the 1960s and the present, with new roles for public and private actors.

I can be reached on Twitter at @rethinkdetroit or by email at cooper@wayne.edu.

Last updated on October 19, 2021.