Margaret Dewar’s research is in the broad areas of economic development, housing and community development, urban environmental planning, and urban land use. Her current projects address remaking cities following abandonment and strengthening deteriorated neighborhoods. She analyzes how planners can address issues facing cities that have experienced substantial population and employment loss. Her recent book is The City after Abandonment (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013), coedited with June Manning Thomas. In 2016-17 she is working with June Thomas, Lan Deng, and a recent Ph.D. alum on investigating whether and how residents and community-based organizations can save their neighborhoods from the disinvestment mortgage foreclosures have caused. She is also researching how land use change occurs in cities where demand for property is very weak; specifically, she is working with faculty in law, landscape architecture, water ecology, public health, sociology, and civil engineering to study how land use transitions from derelict structure through demolition to green stormwater infrastructure. She is completing a project on the everyday remaking of place in the most abandoned areas of cities, and launching a new one that addresses the challenge of refinancing and preserving Low-Income Housing Tax Credit housing as it reaches the end of investors’ commitment in a context of very weak demand.
Dewar teaches courses where advanced students in the Master of Urban Planning program work with community partners to produce plans that support the agendas of those partners, principally in Detroit and Flint. Her students frequently win awards for their projects, including the national Student Project Award from the American Institute of Certified Planners. She also teaches statistics for urban planning to first-year master’s students. She is faculty co-coordinator for the Housing, Community, and Economic Development concentration.
Dewar earned a Ph.D. in Urban Studies and Planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a Master of City Planning from Harvard University, and an A.B degree from Wellesley College.