Nancey Green Leigh, FAICP

Nancey Green Leigh, FAICP

Professor, School of City & Regional Planning
ADVANCE Professor

Architecture-East Building, 209

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Specialization Area: Economic Development

Nancey Green Leigh is Associate Dean for Research in the College of Design at the Georgia Institute of Technology, Professor of City and Regional Planning, and Georgia Tech ADVANCE Professor. She holds a doctorate degree in City and Regional Planning and masters degree in Economics from the University of California at Berkeley, and a masters degree in Regional Planning from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  She is a Fellow of the American Institute of Certified Planners and past Vice-president of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning.  Her research and teaching focus is economic development planning and policy.

Leigh has published more than 60 articles and book chapters as well as four books. She is the lead author of Planning Local Economic Development (6th edition, 2017), a college textbook as well as resource for practitioners working in planning and policy development.  

Leigh’s research is framed by a definition of economic development that is achieved when a community’s living standards are preserved and raised through human and physical development based on principles of equity and sustainability. This requires reducing inequality between different socioeconomic and spatially defined groups, and advancing sustainable resource use and production. The research and teaching topics that Leigh has focused on throughout her career all emanate from this sustainable economic development framework, and employ a range of qualitative and quantitative methods. She has participated in, as well as, led multi-disciplinary, multi-year research teams funded by the National Science Foundation.  Her research as sole investigator, or as principal investigator of teams in her own discipline (City and Regional Planning), has been supported by federal and local government and numerous foundations.

Leigh’s first book, Stemming Middle Class Decline (1994), tracked the decreasing ability of middle income workers to afford the middle class standard of living. Because industrial restructuring and advanced technology have been major contributors to widening inequality and urban decline, Leigh’s research has also focused on place-based strategies to support urban revitalization, brownfield redevelopment, scale-appropriate industrial retention, and higher wage jobs for the urban poor. Supporting sustainable material use, Leigh and a three university research team modeled how high value waste diversion from urban landfills can become inputs into new products and create new businesses and jobs. Leigh translates her research into class service-learning projects supporting economic revitalization and community development. Leigh’s primary research focus is currently on the regional impacts of automation and roboticization for workers, households, firms, and industries, funded by the National Science Foundation. 

Published Books

Routledge Handbook of International Planning Education
Planning Local Economic Development Book Cover
Economic Revitalization Book Cover
Stemming Middle-Class Decline