Elliott D. Sclar

Professor of Urban Planning


Past Research: Professor Sclar has written extensively about the strengths and limitations of markets as mechanisms for effective public policy implementation. Sclar’s book You Don’t Always Get What You Pay For: The Economics of Privatization (2000), a critique of over-reliance on market mechanisms, is a definitive work in the field that has won several major academic prizes. In recent years, Sclar has been a leading figure in a scholarly movement to reconnect the work of population health experts and urban planners in creating healthier cities. Sclar was the co-coordinator of the Taskforce on Improving the Lives of Slum Dwellers, one of ten taskforces set up by the UN Millennium Project to help guide the implementation of the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals.

Present Research: As Director of the Center for Sustainable Urban Development (CSUD), Sclar is working at the nexus connecting regulatory mechanisms of planning with market-based incentives to create environmentally and economically sustainable urban development, with a particular emphasis on transportation and land use. CSUD is currently collaborating with the Department of Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Nairobi on the realization of the Ruiru Strategic Development Plan, which emphasizes the importance of process and community involvement in planning and transport policy. The core of CSUD’s work in this region centers on the question of how to provoke a policy change toward urban areas at the national level through local authorities. CSUD is currently expanding its research on two major themes as part of its urban planning project: transport modeling, and air quality monitoring. CSUD is also currently engaged in a related project in partnership with the Rockefeller Foundation to advance the Foundation’s mission to reduce poverty and vulnerability in the U.S. and internationally, with four major themes: financing of shelter, water and sanitation; climate change resilience; population health; and planning and design pedagogy and practice.

Future Research: Sclar will continue to investigate urbanization as a key issue in eliminating poverty and working towards sustainable development. His work will focus on the question of how to link the knowledge of community groups to government and policy in order to institutionalize processes of positive change. Along these lines, CSUD plans to continue its work on the Ruiru Strategic Development Plan and extend it to metropolitan planning for the greater Nairobi region, as many of Ruiru’s development issues are linked to the growth of Nairobi—a situation also experienced by other developing municipalities. Implementation of the plan will entail expanding funding mechanisms and presenting the work and the learning process to the development world in a forum (and through publications) where they can be used to promote continued learning and collaboration. CSUD also plans to apply the lessons learned from its work on the Nairobi Regional Project to work on sustainable urban development in other regions. CSUD’s poverty elimination work in partnership with the Rockefeller Foundation will continue with the intent to move the agenda to national scale in several countries.

Professor Sclar's Departmental Biography Page

Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation
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