Ferguson, MO: A Breakdown in the Participatory Process

Man standing in from of mural

Joseph Rukus (M.R.P. '09) is an assistant professor of criminology at Arkansas State University. His work focuses on social justice issues in the criminal justice system. His most recent research has examined the dynamics behind the riots in Ferguson, Missouri and the relationship between inter-generational planning and crime. Prior projects have included an evaluation of work release as an alternative to traditional incarceration and the dynamics behind drug use in the LGBT community. Rukus recently received his Ph.D. in criminology from the University of Florida.


It could be argued that many of the unfortunate events in Ferguson have their roots in a city decision-making process that failed to take into account many of the tenets of participatory planning. In his lecture, Rukus shows how key decisions made by city government, many in the realm of planners, provided a catalyst for the riots, which occurred following the death of Michael Brown. Based on his research, he argues that Ferguson should serve as a case study demonstrating the need for a greater discourse between planners and criminologists. These two disciplines rarely interact with each other on either the academic or practitioner level. Rukus believes changing this dynamic could better enrich both the practice of planning and criminal justice.

Aline MacMahon Stein Lecture Series
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