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 hold a master’s and Ph.D. in urban and regional planning, but I do research that is comparative across time, space, and academic discipline. In addition to 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. First, I’m interested in the history and geography of urban shrinkage in the United States over the past century. My research focuses on patterns of population and household loss at the neighborhood, city, and metropolitan level and the relationship of these patterns to housing policy, industrial policy, fiscal policy, and structural racism. I hope this research will lead to the development of more effective and equitable policies to stop the unnecessary, racially-biased abandonment of older neighborhoods.

Second, I’m interested in the history 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 changed over time in Metro Detroit, 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 related articles that embed Detroit’s experience in a national framework.

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

Last updated on April 6, 2021.