The question of where the funds from the 1% sales tax were addressed by Giahanna Bridges, MA student.  She focused her research on how the money is allocated within the City of Jackson during the 2016 timeframe since that was the most recent data available. Her findings also showed that infrastructure issues continue to be a priority for the current city's administration to address.  An attentive audience was present and asked a lot of questions for Giahanna while her internship site supervisor, Dr. Sam Mozee, interim director of the Mississippi Urban Research Center (MURC) facilitated the presentation.  

Also in attendance was Dr. Joan M. Wesley, DURP interim chair and associate professor, Dr. Talya D. Thomas, DURP assistant professor and internship coordinator, DURP staff and students, MURC staff, and family and friends of Giahanna.  

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What do you do when you have a lot of questions and need just as many answers?  Well, one can attend a doctoral workshop sponsored by the Department of Urban and Regional Planning hosted on Tuesday, October 30, 2018 at 5:30 p.m.    This event was the last in the month of activities as part of Planning Month.  Both doctoral and masters students were in the audience at the 101 W. Capitol Street Building at the JSU Downtown Campus to hear what new procedures and processes are a part of the matriculation. Shalonda Carlisle, a DURP doctoral candidate, served as the facilitator for the program.

There were two panels assembled for the workshop.  The first panel was comprised of key Jackson State University staff persons who are great resources in the overall completion process.  First, Mrs. Darlita Ballard, university and digital archivist from the Division of Library and Information Resource spoke about the binding of the dissertation/thesis.  Next, there was Dr. Kathi Griffin, director, of the Richard Wright Center, and last was Ms. Fatouma Sisay, senior program manager of the Division of Graduate Studies. Students were encouraged to be timely with their paperwork submissions and maintain communication with their advisor.  Additionally, the Richard Wright Center was a great place to help choose a topic for research and participate in their Roundtable Discussions.

DURP alumni doctoral graduates comprised of the second panel discussion. Dr. Joan Blanton, AICP and Dr. Jasmine Williams-Washington are both DURP visiting assistant professors along with Dr. Charles Husband, provided first-hand information of what current doctoral students should expect as part of their personal and professional journey.


Shown left to right:  Dr. Talya D. Thomas, DURP assistant professor, Dr. Joan Blanton, AICP, DURP visiting assistant professor, Dr. Jasmine Williams-Washington, DURP visiting assistant professor, Shalonda Carlisle, DURP doctoral candidate, and Dr. Charles Husband, manager, Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT)

Ms. Fatouma Sisay, senior program manager, JSU Division of Graduate Studies


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     October was filled with several activities to commemorate the American Planning Association's "National Planning Month."  The Department of Urban and Regional Planning along with the City of Jackson's Planning Department and the Mississippi Chapter of the American Planning Association (MS APA) collaborated together to host a Brown Bag Panel Discussion on Tuesday, October 16, 2018, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.  This year's planning month's theme was "Housing as Community Infrastructure."  Several panelists were selected based on their individual expertise starting with Mr. Ted J. Duckworth, President and CEO of Duckworth Realty, Inc., Ms. Shundreka R. Givan, AICP, Project Development Team Leader with the Federal Highway Administration, Ms. Donnetta McAdoo, Community Planning and Development Director with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and Mr. Primus Wheeler, Executive Director for the Jackson Medical Mall.  

     Ms. Lisa Johnson, DURP Student Development Coordinator, served as the facilitator for this event.  Two of DURP's Alumni were sponsors of the Brown Bag:  Dr. Joan F. Blanton, AICP and CEO of Central Mississippi Community Design Center and Dr. Alfred Martin, CEO of Environmental Management Plus, Inc.  



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This year's APA MS and APA Alabama Planning Annual Conference in Tupelo, MS did not disappoint as both the Department of Urban and Regional Planning faculty and alumni graced the stage for awards.  


Lucie Khachan, Ph.D. student, made a poster presentation on her research involving the "Evaluation of New Urbanism in Mississippi."

Willie Davidson, MA, received the "Emerging Planner Award."

Ramini Aghili, AICP, MA, received the "Emerging Planner Award."
Peter Smith, MA student, Demetra Bates, Doctoral Candidate, and Nathan Coe, MA Political Science student made poster presentations and served as conference volunteers.
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The 6th Annual Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Climate Change Conference held on September 20th-23rd in New Orleans, LA was well represented with several students from our department.  Theme of the event was "Fighting For Our Lives" resonated throughout the conference activities.  

Doctoral student, Daniel Walker, was on program to present his research involving "The Impact of Brownfield Sites on Climate Change in Urban Minority Communities In Major Southern Cities."  Kieshelle Jones-Reynaud, Ph.D. was in attendance at the conference.  

Doctoral student, Lucie Khachan, made a poster presentation on her research involving "Evaluation of New Urbanism in Mississippi."  The topic she said is about "Many cities, towns, and neighborhoods in Mississippi are looking for more livable, walkable, mixed-use, diverse, safe, and sustainable neighborhoods where the needs of future generations can be met.  Additionally, she added New Urbanist promise to change the declining public ream of sprawl and to create better, more cohesive and environmentally-friendly communities."  

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Dr. Joan M. Wesley, associate professor, is now serving in the role of chair for the Department of Urban and Regional Planning.  Dr. Wesley brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in community development and housing as well as serving as a member of the Executive Committee for the Mississippi American Planning Association.  We congratulate Dr. Wesley, on this noteworthy accomplishment.

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The Department of Urban and Regional Planning along with the Mississippi Chapter of the American Planning Association cordially invite each of you to attend a Panel Discussion.  The topic of the discussion will focus on "Building Resilience and Sustainability in Communities."  This event will take place on Friday, June 29, 2018, from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and it is open to the public!

Please, come join the discussion at the Jackson State University Downtown Campus located at 101 West Capitol Street.  Admission is free!  Please RSVP your attendance on the link provided on the attachment.  For event details or to request special accommodations, contact Dr. Joan M. Wesley at (601) 209-6738 or by email at  Be sure to include the word "Panel" in the subject line.  

Select link to RSVP:  2018 Panel Discussion 6.29.2018 (3)

*Parking is located directly across the street inside of the gate on the South side of the building.  

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Alumnae of the Department of Urban and Regional Planning served as panelists at the Jackson State University Notable Alumni Panel Session.  The event was held on Thursday, November 2, 2017 at 2:00 p.m. in the JSU Student Center Theater room on the main campus.  Dr. Joan Blanton, AICP, and Zylavian Watley, MA, provided valuable advise to the audience regarding their experience as a JSU student and professional advice on how to be successful in the planning field.

Dr. Blanton currently serves as a planning consultant and visiting assistant professor in DURP.  Ms. Watley works as a transportation planner and bicycle pedestrian coordinator under the office of Planning and Development with the Shelby County Government in Memphis, Tennessee.  Our department is truly proud of these trailblazers making an impact in urban planning.


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Congratulations to Dr. Edmund Merem as he was recently appointed as a member of the SSHRC Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship selection.  The appointment is a three-year term from July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2020.  The purpose of the Vanier CGS program is to attract and retain world-class doctoral students and put Canada in the forefront  in research and higher learning.  Membership selection for this committee is based on the prestige and noted academic research of a candidate.

Dr. Merem teaches courses in the planning concentration of Environment and Land Use.  He is a tenured professors with 15 years of teaching at the graduate and undergraduate levels and eight years as a research and teaching assistant.  Additionally, he has contributed two books to Canadian research, Environmental accounting for changes in farmland use: A Canadian case study, and Environmental accounting for oil and natural gas a North American case study of Canada and North East United States.  He received his Bachelor of Arts and Master of Environmental Science from York University and his Master of Arts from Pontifical Lateran University, Vatican City.  His PhD in Urban and Regional Planning was obtained from Jackson State University.  For additional information, go to


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DURP Receives Award at 2017 AL/MS APA Conference

October 12th, 2017 by jsudurp

The Department of Urban and Regional Planning received the President’s Award at the American Planning Association Mississippi Awards Luncheon sponsored by the 2017 Alabama/Mississippi APA Annual Conference in Birmingham, Alabama.  This year the award went to three State University as they have educated, mentored, and graduated planners who work to improve communities at every scale throughout the state.  DURP shared the award with the University of Southern Mississippi and The University of Mississippi.

Dr. Joan Marshall Wesley, DURP associate professor, serves as the Committee Chair for the APA Central Region.  Biqi Zhao, AICP and DURP PhD student serves on the APA Central Region Committee.

Three of DURP’s alumni were recognized as new members of the American Institute of Certified Planners organization.   Those honorees were Ramina Aghili, Arash Ghahramani, and Catherine Lee.   AICP is the professional institute to APA which verifies planners qualifications.  They pledge to uphold elevated standards of practice, ethics, and professional conduct.

Arash Ghahramani, AICP, MA and Ramini Aghili, AICP, MA


Catherine Lee, AICP, MA


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