Victoria A. Beard

Victoria Beard's research and teaching focus on comparative urbanization and international development planning.

Beard's research focuses on how planners address urban inequality and poverty. In cities in the Global South, communities often plan for themselves, outside of, in collaboration with, and in opposition to formal planning and regulatory frameworks. In response to the limitations of community-based planning, Beard has expanded her work to focus on the city perspective and access to basic services, particularly water and sanitation, and the broader processes that create and sustain city-wide transformation.

From 2015 to 2017, Beard served as director of research for the Ross Center for Cities at the World Resources Institute. In this role, she led work on the World Resources Report, Towards a More Equal City.

Over the past 20 years, she has worked for the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, AusAID, Mercy Corps, the Research Triangle Institute, and RAND.

Beard holds a Ph.D. in community and regional planning from the University of British Columbia (1999); an M.A. in urban planning from University of California–Los Angeles (1995); and a B.A. in urban studies and planning from the University of California–San Diego (1992).

Academic Research/Specialty Areas

  • International development planning
  • Comparative urbanization with a focus on the Global South
  • Community-based planning and informality
  • Urban inequality and poverty
  • Urban infrastructure planning, specifically water and sanitation

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Classes (Selected)

  • CRP 6720 International Institutions The course introduces students to the theory and practice of international development planning from an institutional perspective. It begins with an introduction to the field and provides a historical, institutional and theoretical overview. The course examines the main actors involved in the practice of international development planning: the public sector, civil society and NGOs, community-based organizations and the private sector. It critically analyzes some of the large international institutions engaged in planning, policy and global governance. These institutions are analyzed in the context of an issue that is central to their core mission. The last section of the course critically examines new configurations, forces for change and challenges to how we conceptualize as well as practice international development planning, including migration, transnationalism, social movements, post-democracy and anarchism. 
  • CRP 1101 The Global CityThe course introduces students to contemporary urbanization processes, patterns and trends with a focus on cities of the Global South. It examines the demographic, economic and historical processes that create cities. Attention is given to the role of the state, market, non-governmental actors and communities in shaping cities. The course investigates the most pressing problems facing cities. Possible topics may include poverty and inequality, access to shelter and infrastructure, and environmental degradation.

Awards, Grants, and Fellowships (Selected)

  • International Faculty Fellow, Global Cornell (2017)
  • Principal investigator, Transnational Community-Based Planning in Southern California and Oaxaca, CORCL, University of California–Irvine (2010–11)
  • Principal investigator, A Comparison of Decentralization Policies, Community-Level Collective Action and Elite Capture in Thailand, Cambodia, and Indonesia, University of California Pacific Rim Research Program (2008–09)
  • Fulbright Scholar to Indonesia (1993–94)

Publications (Selected)

  • Mitlin, Diana, Beard, Victoria A., Satterthwaite, David, and Du, Jillian. "Unaffordable and Undrinkable: Rethinking Urban Water Access in the Global South" Working paper. Washington, DC: World Resources Institute (2019), 1-60.
  • Beard, Victoria A. "Community-based planning, collective action and the challenges of confronting urban poverty in Southeast Asia." Environment and Urbanization, 2018.
  • Chen, Martha A. and Beard, Victoria A. "Including the Excluded: Supporting Informal Workers for More Equal and Productive Cities in the Global South." Working paper. Washington, DC: World Resources Institute (2018), 1-35.
  • Beard, Victoria A. "Citizen Planners: From Self-Help to Political Transformation." Oxford Handbook of Urban Planning, R. Weber and R. Crane (eds.), Oxford: Oxford University Press (2012), 706–721 
  • Beard, Victoria A. "Household Contributions to Community Development in Indonesia." World Development 35, no. 4 (2007), 607-625.
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