John Harris

Qualifications: PhD in Urban and Regional Planning; American Institute of Certified Planners
Affiliation: University of Oklahoma, Regional and City Planning


John Harris, PhD, AICP, is an Assistant Professor of Regional and City Planning at the University of Oklahoma in the United States. He was honored to be a member of the Quito WSSF class. His work is on the everyday realities of urban informality in Sub Saharan Africa. This has included investigations into the mechanics of agglomeration economies in informal production clusters in Nairobi, Kenya; informal sanitation and water provision in Accra, Ghana and Norther Uganda; and preferences of vulnerable youth for informal settlement upgrades in Lusaka, Zambia. John is passionate about participatory forms of research and is committed to helping improve local quality of life for those that live at the margins of their societies. To this end he has also begun working with indigenous communities in the US to shore up their ability to deal with the projected impacts of climate change as well as with women of color with whom he works to critically examine their physical soundings and establish policy priorities for local government.

Current research

For the past 2-years I have been working with vulnerable youth in Lusaka, Zambia on a Community Based Participatory Research project aimed at better understanding the youths perspectives on their neighborhoods and their priorities for local change. The first emerging publications are currently under review.
For the past year I have been working with 5 indigenous American Indian to help identify long term vulnerabilities to climate change.

I have just begun two new projects: the first works with women in Northern Uganda to critically examine day-to-day struggles and opportunities for dealing with water supply and quality issues. The second works with Women of Color in an American City. The project utilizes photovoice as a tool for the women to critically examine the role their physical surrounding plays in their everyday safety.