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Urban planning professor to highlight U.S. Rust Belt regions' differing resilience in Feb. 4 lecture at ISU

January 27, 2014



AMES, Iowa — Margaret Cowell, assistant professor of urban affairs and planning at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, will highlight regional differences in economic resilience across the United States Rust Belt—and the impact of those differences for resilience studies—in a lecture at Iowa State University.

Cowell will present "Economic Restructuring and the Art of Adaptive Resilience" at 12 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 4, in room 262 of the ISU College of Design. Part of the college's 2013-2014 Contemporary Issues in Planning and Design Lecture Series, her talk is free and open to the public.

For her forthcoming book, Dealing with Deindustrialization: Adaptive Resilience in Eight Midwestern Regions (Routledge), Cowell researched current and historical economic and demographic data, and archival data from planning and other public documents related to the economic decline, population loss and urban decay caused by the shrinking industrial sector. She collected qualitative data through extensive interviews with former public, private and nonprofit stakeholders.

Cowell discovered no uniform response to deindustrialization across these regions—they "varied greatly in terms of the choices their leaders made, the paths that they followed, and the speed with which they responded to the deindustrialization challenge" dating from the mid-20th century, she said.

In her lecture, Cowell will shed light on these differences and their meaning for increasingly popular resilience studies, and place these findings in the context of the more recent Great Recession.

Cowell holds a bachelor of arts degree in urban studies from Brown University, a master in urban planning from the State University of New York at Buffalo, and a doctorate in city and regional planning from Cornell University. She teaches courses on economic development, urban economy and public policy at Virginia Tech.

She was a member of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation-funded "Building Resilient Regions" research project and part of a research team assessing the potential of the homeland security economy for community economic development at the St. Elizabeths Hospital site in Southeast Washington, D.C. From 2004 to 2006 she was an assistant regional economist with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Buffalo Branch. Her research has been funded by the MacArthur Foundation, National Association of Counties and the U.S. Economic Development Administration.

Cowell's visit is cosponsored by the Department of Community and Regional Planning and the College of Design.

Jane Rongerude, Community and Regional Planning, (515) 294-5289,
Heather Sauer, Design Communications, (515) 294-9289,