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Dr. Joan M. Wesley, Associate Professor

Community Development and Housing Concentration


Dr. Joan Marshall Wesley, Associate Professor in Urban and Regional Planning, teaches courses in planning theory and community development and housing. Her work emphasizes the intersection of stakeholder empowerment and community-based participatory research to promote healthy, resilient and sustainable communities. Working collaboratively with planning students and community partners, she has devoted the past 15 years promoting the benefits of reciprocal learning arising from the exchange of ideas, historical knowledge, and professional skills and expertise shared between students and neighborhood residents. A staunch proponent of community empowerment and self-determination, Dr. Wesley’s work and teaching methods advance the premise that student engagement with neighborhoods is vital to strong community university partnerships and empowers communities to create spaces where residents can live, work, play, worship and age in place.

As lead professor in the Community Development and Housing concentration in Urban and Regional Planning, Dr. Wesley has worked in urban and rural communities throughout Mississippi. Her work in community-based participatory research engages local stakeholders and neighborhood residents in mapping local assets and disamenities, while identifying solutions to communities’ challenges. More recently, she incorporated specific methodologies to conduct a virtual Revitalization Studio. Dr. Wesley’s independent and collaborative research focuses upon housing and public health; social equity and environmental justice; community based participatory inquiry; and comparative studies on racial/ethnic minorities and underserved populations. She has published, collaboratively and singularly, in several outlets, including Societies Journal; Progressive Planning; Public Health Research, Practice, and Policy; The Community Development Journal; Race, Gender and Class Journal; American Journal of Science and Engineering; Frontiers in Science; and Mississippi Online Journal of Rural and Urban Research.

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  • Wesley, J., Dalbey, M., & Harris, W. (2006, October). Urban segregation in the Deep South: Race, education, and planning ethics in Jackson, Mississippi. Race, Gender, & Class Journal.
  • Levine, J. & Wesley, J. Growth in the middle: The economics of mid-sized metropolitan areas. (2004, July). Monograph. International City Futures Conference. Chicago, Illinois.
  • Dalbey, M., Wesley, J., & Carr, V. (2003, July). From elite political hub to social Justice forum: The paradoxical significance of the King Edward Hotel. Monograph, Center for University Scholars. Submitted for publication to Rhetorics of Place collection.
  • Lowe, J., Wesley, J., & Hunter, J. (Eds.). (2003). Building together equitable and just communities. Planning and the Black Community Division of the American Planning Association. Proceedings of the 2003 Conference. Oakland, CA.
  • Wesley, J., Dalbey, M., & Harris, W. (2003, February). Urban segregation in the Deep South. Monograph, Urban Affairs Association.
  • Lowe, J., Levine, J., Carr, V., Ehsan, A. R., & Wesley, J. (2002, August). e-City initiative interim data collection and analysis report. Universities Center, Jackson State University, Jackson, MS
  • Dalbey, M., Harris, W. & Wesley, J. (2001). Urban spatial segregation in Jackson, MS: Planning for equity. Lincoln Land Institute.

Conference Papers and Presentations

  • July 2008 – Regional Divide: The Regional Planning Association of America and the Regional Plan of New York. Prepared for the ACPA-AESOP Congress, Chicago, IL.
  • April 2008 – Sustainable tourism: The intersection of cultural resources, heritage assets and economic development. Paper presented at the Urban Affairs Association Conference, Baltimore, MD.
  • February 2008 – Defining space, restoring place. Paper presented at the NAAAS and Multi Cultural Conference, Baton Rouge, LA
  • April 2007 – Downtown housing: Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina. Paper presented at the Urban Affairs Conference, Seattle, WA.
  • February 2007 – Coming home: The back migration of African Americans to Dixie. NAAAS, IAAS, NANAS, NAHLS (National Association of African American Studies, International Association of Asian Studies, National Association of Native American Studies, National Association of Hispanic NAAAS, IAAS, NANAS, NAHLS and Latino Studies). Interdisciplinary, multi-cultural conference, Baton Rouge, LA.

Current Research

2008 – Current

  • Community Regeneration and Economic Restoration – Revisiting Local efforts to repurpose the Newsom Brothers/Old Reichhold Chemical Site
  • Cultural/ heritage tourism as an economic development tool in rural communities
  • Illegal immigration and the implications for local communities
  • Housing needs of new Hispanic immigrant populations in the Deep South
  • The new agriculture: Hispanic immigrants and catfish farming in the Mississippi Delta
  • Restoring sense of place: post out-migration and population shifts away from urban and small
    town centers
  • Economic development and housing in small towns and rural communities
  • Sprawl and transportation options in Small Town America
    • Citizen Participation and Deliberative Processes
    • Housing Options in Rural Communities
    • Sprawl: Environmental, Economic, and Social Impact
    • Ethics/Environmental and Planning Ethics
    • Urban Studies and Urban/City/Regional Planning
    • Environmental Justice and Social Equity
    • Social Capital in Community Development
    Teaching and Research Interests
    • ESL/TESOL (English as a Second Language; Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages) tutor to military wives, Ft. Bragg, NC
    • Writer, editor and advisor to Atlanta Job Corps Newspaper, Atlanta, GA
    • Newsletter editor (and contributing writer) for Officer Wives Club (OWC), Ft. Buchanan, PR, and Hanarry Homeowners Association, Lawrenceville, GA
    • Treasurer, Ft. Buchanan, PR OWC
    • Chair, Publicity Committee, Ft. Buchanan OWC
    Volunteer Service
    • Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning
    • American Planning Association
      American Planning Association Private Practice/Consulting Division
      Planning and the Black Community Division of the American Planning Association
    • Mississippi Chapter of the American Planning Association
    • Urban Affairs Association
    • NAAAS/NAHLS/IAAS/NAIS – Multi Cultural Organization comprised of African Americans, Latinos/Hispanics, Asians and Native Americans
    Professional Organizations