Margaret DewarProfessor Emerita
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, strengthening deteriorated neighborhoods, and reducing the harm residents experience from disinvestment in their city. She analyzes how planners can address issues facing cities that have experienced substantial population and employment loss. Her most recent book is The City after Abandonment (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013), coedited with June Manning Thomas. Most of her work focuses on Detroit to illuminate broader issues of improving quality of life in cities that have much smaller populations than in the past. She is investigating how residents and community-based organizations succeeded in saving some neighborhoods from the disinvestment mortgage foreclosures caused. She is studying how to transition land use from derelict structure through demolition to green stormwater infrastructure and therefore to reuse vacant land productively. She is evaluating two Detroit programs to sell tax foreclosed houses to their occupants, a process that might benefit the purchasers and protect the houses from destruction. She is continuing to work with others on ways to prevent evictions and to decrease tax foreclosures. She is completing a project on the everyday remaking of place in the most abandoned areas of cities. In all her research she works with people who can use her findings to make changes in planning and policy practice. Dewar is also affiliated with Poverty Solutions, a program to prevent and alleviate poverty in partnership with communities and policymakers, based in the Ford School of Public Policy and the School of Social Work. In 2020, she received the UM President’s Award for Public Impact. 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 a Bachelor of Arts from Wellesley College.