Dr. Penny Gurstein focuses on the sociocultural aspects of community planning. In particular, her research seeks to understand how to create equitable and resilient communities.

Her areas of specialization include:

  • Social Development and Health with a particular emphasis on Affordable Housing;
  • Community-Based Research and Participatory Processes;
  • Planning for Equity and Community Resilience;
  • Technology, Work and Society;
  • and Multimedia tools and processes for Planning.

She has published in all of these areas in Canada and internationally. Recent research focuses on the experiences of low-income people and how to translate these experiences into effective policy and planning initiatives. Dr. Gurstein has presented over 100 papers and been a keynote speaker on her research at conferences in Canada, Belgium, Brazil, China, France, Israel, Sweden, United States, and Vietnam, and has 136 publications, 37 of those in refereed journals and monograph series in Canada and internationally, and three published books.

Dr. Gurstein has been a consultant to planning agencies, conducted workshops both nationally and internationally for NGOs and government agencies on planning and participatory processes, and has produced 10 films and multimedia presentations on her research for the National Film Broad and CBC, among other agencies. She has also have been on Boards of International academic organizations and local advisory boards such as the Vancouver Health Board. She has peer reviewed 40 journal articles, books and research grants since 1992 and has been interviewed numerous times by journalists on her research.

She has been the Director of the School of Community and Regional Planning and Centre for Human Settlements since 2007 and a full Professor since 2006. She has degrees in Sociology and Architecture and is a Member of the Canadian Institute of Planners. She has been principal investigator on several large projects: “Planning for Telework and Home-Based Employment: A Canadian Survey on Integrating Work into Residential Environments,” funded by CMHC; “From Research to Policy: A Gender and Development Network,” “EMERGENCE Canada: Globalized Work Relocation,” “Income Assistance Project,” and the “Climate Justice Project” funded by SSHRC.

Dr. Gurstein has also been involved in several CIDA-funded planning projects in Vietnam and Brazil emphasizing the development of new paradigms for community planning in rapidly developing cities and was the Director of the ODA funded “Education for Democratic Planning” project in Sri Lanka. She was awarded a Rockefeller Foundation grant to organize an international workshop at the Bellagio Centre in Italy based on the impact of e-work and the outsourcing of work on companies and communities, in Canada and internationally and a SSHRC Public Outreach Grant to disseminate the findings of the case studies of EMERGENCE Canada as a film. She has been a UBC Scholar-in-Residence at the Centre for Research in Women’s Studies and Gender Relations to conduct research on women and the community planning process and a Visiting Scholar at University o f California, Berkeley.

Current projects focus on the link between inequality, resilient communities and climate change, methodological issues in community-based research, and housing justice. Dr. Gurstein brings to this project planning and community development expertise in working on critical development issues in communities both locally, nationally and internationally. She has considerable experience working with community organizations in Vancouver and on participatory planning processes and engagement strategies. She has recently organized research and action roundtables on affordable and sustainable housing in Victoria, Vancouver and Kelowna. I n addition, she is one of the founding members of the Pacific Housing Research Network, a network of academic and community partners in BC committed to addressing housing gaps through research and policy advocacy.