University of Hertfordshire

Assoc Prof Susan Parham



Associate Professor Parham works as the University's Head of Urbanism and Planning at the School of Life and Medical Sciences (LMS) in the Geography, Environment and Agriculture (GEA) group. Susan is the Academic Director of the International Garden Cities Institute (IGCI) established in 2015 in Letchworth as part of the University's research partnership with the Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation. In December 2018 Susan was appointed as the Director of the new University of Hertfordshire Urbanism Unit (UHUU). Her particular research interests include the urbanism of Garden Cities and New Towns, as well as food and spatial design, sprawl retrofitting and transport oriented, compact and sustainable cities. Associate Professor Parham also has 'process' expertise in engagement on planning, urban design and urbanism issues.

Partnership working, research and writing on garden cities and urban planning: At the International Garden Cities Institute Associate Professor Parham is active on a range of research processes including the EU funded international Edible Cities Research Network project (‘EdiCitNet for short), for which she co-wrote the funding bid. Over four years Susan is working with the Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation and community based partners on developing ‘edible city solutions’ in keeping with garden city principles within a broad international consortium of partners focusing on urban resilience and food. Susan has also recently taken part in the design jury for the LGCHF-Royal Institute of British Architects design competition which chose masterplanners for the development of a new part of Letchworth Garden City. Associate Professor Parham writes on garden cities in a range of contexts. Most recently Susan helped write the new Edible Garden Cities Guide produced by the Town and Country Planning Association. She is currently preparing a piece for The Conversation also on edible garden cities and has previously explored 'Why are Garden Villages in the News?' also for The Conversation. Susan has now published five ‘Garden Cities Perspectives Papers, an in-depth policy papers series she initiated through the IGCI in 2017 and has been lead or co-author on two of these. The most recent was a Perspectives Paper with colleagues on how to build a new garden city based on her co-written, commended entry for the Wolfson Economics Prize.

Research: At LMS Associate Professor Parham runs substantial research and partnership projects. Susan is currently completing a three-year research programme with Tarmac through the Sustainable Living Partnership in which she is exploring decision making for sustainability within construction industry materials supply chains. For more than three years prior to this current research Susan ran comparative primary research into sustainable placemaking in masterplanned communities with Assistant Professor Alasdair Jones and Dr John McCormack, again through the University's Sustainable Living Partnership with Tarmac. A peer-reviewed paper on findings from this research co-written with Assistant Professor Jones is shortly to appear in the Journal of Urbanism. Susan’s related article, 'Reflecting on sustainable architecture and urbanism as 'an ecology of living', recently appeared in Korea's c3 Architecture Magazine (No 387). Susan is a member of the University’s Design Research Group and her work is being submitted for the Design Unit of Assessment in this iteration of the Research Excellence Framework. Susan is also active in international research in related urban planning areas and has taken part in research, presentations and peer reviewed journal activity with colleagues Dr Stéphane Sadoux and Dr Matthew Hardy for the Diffuse Cities and Urbanisation Network sponsored by the research federation “LABEX Urban Futures”, under the umbrella of the University Paris-Est.

Teaching: Associate Professor Parham is Head of Planning School and from March 1st will be Programme Leader for the University's Master's Programme in Sustainable Planning. Susan led the accreditation process for the Planning School which has recently completed its accreditation, being judged an effective planning school by the Royal Town Planning Institute. Susan teaches and supervises research students both within the Geography group and in the University’s Professional Doctorate in Heritage. Susan’s PhD student supervision includes students associated with her research unit (UHUU), as well as a ERDF/LEP/LGCHF funded scholar on garden city food economy issues, and for the Professional Doctorate in Heritage. Susan teaches on the Masters level Sustainable Planning MSc and short courses, including in relation to urban design and conservation; urban regeneration; spatial planning; development viability, and community engagement in the planning system. She teaches undergraduate geography students in Levels 4 and 6 on space and place and urban social geography, and supervises a number of student projects at Level 6. Susan gives annual guest lectures on areas of urbanism including engagement and food for the University of Oxford’s MA in Sustainable Urban Development, as well as for urban policy programmes at the University of Glasgow and the University of Swansea.

Publications: Associate Professor Parham has been exploring the design and planning connections between food and cities since the early 1990s and as well as her research and publications related to garden cities and planned settlements work. Her most recent writing on food includes a Special Issue of the Journal of Urbanism on Food and Urbanism (February, 2020) for which Susan acted as Editor and produced a detailed Editorial. Her most recent book chapter looks at rural urbanism and conviviality while another recent chapter explores food and place issues in peri-urban areas as part of the book, Agrourbanism, edited by Enrico Gottero. Susan has also published two chapters, on food and urban design with Dr Jacques Abelman, and on the evolution of food markets, in a Handbook of Landscape and Food (Routledge, Jan 2018, edited by Tim Waterman and Josh Zeunert). In late 2016 Susan published the research report 'Making Space for Food in Hatfield' with Ben McCabe and earlier in 2016 published a chapter based on this primary research as "Shrinking Cities and Food: Place-making for Sustainable Renewal, Reuse and Retrofit' in the book Future Directions for the European Shrinking City (Eds. Hans Schlappa and William Neill, in the RTPI Routledge series). In 2015 Susan completed a book for Bloomsbury entitled Food and Urbanism, delving into the interplay between food and place from the scale of the table to the productive region, while her 2012 book Market Place: Food Quarters, Design and Urban Renewal in London reported on primary research into food-centred regeneration processes that are transforming physical spaces and social practices in moribund market areas in contemporary London.

Scholarly activities and research dissemination: Susan has been editor (chair of the editorial panel) of the peer-reviewed journal, Urban Design and Planning, for the Institute of Civil Engineers since 2016 and will be stepping down in November 2020 at the end of her extended term. Susan is book reviews editor and member of the editorial board of the Journal of Urbanism, a role she has held since the journal’s inception in 2007. Susan is an active peer reviewer and has provided reviews for journals including the Journal of Urbanism, Urban Design International, Journal of Ethnographic Theory, Space and Culture, Societies, Sustainability, and Agriculture and Human Values among others. Susan is active in presenting research at conferences including the UK and Ireland Planning Research Conference, and Aesop, and takes part in the Planning Schools Forum. Susan is an active alumnus of Living Streets as its former deputy chair of trustees.

Associate Professor Parham holds undergraduate and postgraduate qualifications in political economy (BA), town planning (Grad Dip), urban design (MA), and urban sociology (PhD) from the London School of Economics’ Cities Programme. Susan is a Research Associate for the Laboratory for Building Cultures, at the École nationale supérieure d'architecture de Grenoble (ENSAG) and a visiting research fellow at the Centre for Housing, Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Adelaide. Susan is a Fellow of the Royal Society for the Arts (RSA) and a Member of the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI). 



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