Professor Birch is the Lawrence C. Nussdorf Chair of Urban Research and Education. She teaches courses in global urbanization and the doctoral seminar and serves as chair, Graduate Group in City and Regional Planning, co-director, Penn Institute for Urban Research, co-editor, City in the 21st Century Series, University of Penn Press and co-editor, SSRN Urban Research e-journal. With Penn IUR she recently completed a project “Entreprenuership & Innovation in Connecticut’s Higher Education System” for the state of Connecticut.
Professor Birch’s current research focuses on global urbanization with her most recent publications being: Slums, How Informal Real Estate Markets Work, Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press (2016) (edited with Susan Wachter, Shahana Chattaraj); “Metrics and the Impact of the Urban SDG” in Thomas Elquist et al. (eds), The Urban Planet: Patterns and Pathways to the Cities We Want (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018) with Andrew Rudd, Maruxa Cardama, Aromar Revi, “More than window dressing? Stakeholders and partnerships in the New Urban Agenda” URBANET, January 22, 2018. http://www.urbanet.info/stakeholders-and-partnerships-in-the-new-urban-agenda/ (longer version is at http://penniur.upenn.edu/publications/penn-current-research-on-sustainable-urban-development ),“Gateways and Portals to the Implementation of the New Urban Agenda: It’s Engagement, But Engagement is Complicated,” in Aliye Celik, Gateway Portals to the City: Infrastructure for Sustainable Urbanization, 2018; “Midterm Report: Will Habitat III Make a Difference to Global Urban Development?” Journal of the American Planning Association 84:4 (Fall 2016); “The Institutions of Metropolitan Governance,” in D.A. Gomez-Alvarzez, E. Moreno and R. Rajack (eds), Steering the Metropolis: Metropolitan Governance for Sustainable Urban Development (Nairobi: UN Habitat, 2017); “Inclusion and Innovation: The Many Forms of Stakeholder Engagement in Habitat III,” Citiscape (July 2017); “Implementing the New Urban Agenda in the United States, Building on a Firm Foundation,” Informationen zur Raumentwicklung (Information on Spatial Development) (Summer 2017).
Professor Birch has been active in the field’s professional and civic organizations in the United States and abroad. She is president, General Assembly of Partners (GAP), the engagement platform for the implementation of the UN’s New Urban Agenda and associated global agreements, co-chair, Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) Thematic Group on Cities, and an Associate Editor, Journal of the American Planning Association. In the past, she has been president, Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning; president, Society of American City and Regional Planning History; president, International Planning History Society; and co-editor, Journal of the American Planning Association. She has been a member of the Planning Accreditation Board, having served as its chair from 2004-2006. She has been a member of the editorial boards of Planning Theory and Practice, Journal of Planning History, Journal of Planning Education and Research and Planning Perspectives. In the early 1990s, she was a member of the New York City Planning Commission, and in 2002, she served on the jury to select the designers for the World Trade Center site. She has chaired the Board of Trustees of the Municipal Art Society of New York and is currently a member of the Board of Trustees of the Regional Plan Association of New York.
Professor Birch lectures widely. She has been Visiting Scholar, Queens University Ontario, Canada; Foreign Scholar, University of Hong Kong and Visiting Professor, University of the Witswatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa. In April 2018, she delivered the keynote address “The New Urban Agenda: Problems and their Potential Solutions,” at the 4th Planocosmo International Conference, Institu Teknologi Bandung, Bandung, Indonesia. In March, 2018 she delivered “Today’s Global Agreements, on Sustainable Urban Development, From Stakeholders to Partners,” the Dorn McGrath Jr. Annual Lecture in Urban Planning and Geography, George Washington University, Washington, DC. In February 2018, she gave the keynote speech, “Integrated Territorial Approaches to Sustainable Urban Development, at the World Urban Forum9, Kuala Lumpur, Maylasia. In May 2017, she delivered the keynote address, “Making Cities Safe, Inclusive, Resilient and Sustainable,” at the Dresden Nexus Conference, Dresden, Germany; and “Post Habitat III Stakeholder Engagement: An Update” at the Wilson Center, Washington, DC.