Queen's University

Planning professor focuses on building strong relationships

Leela Viswanathan walks into the Tea Room café and her eyes brighten when she spots two of her students. She immediately heads over to talk, about class and life in general, before moving to the counter for tea. She chats casually with the servers, then takes a seat.

It’s obvious that connecting with people is a big priority in her life.

“It’s in my nature to create these relationships, and as a social planner it’s crucial for designing better neighbourhoods,” says Dr. Viswanathan, an assistant professor in the School of Urban and Regional Planning (SURP), with a cross-appointment to geography. “We need to think about having conversations with the people in our communities – not just asking people what their opinions are once, but going back several times, creating a dialogue.”

Read the full story in the Queen's Gazette.

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Dr. Leela Viswanathan

In the broadest sense, my research examines how public policies, planning processes, and people shape environments (i.e., built, ecological, social, economic, and cultural environments). I experience planning as both a technical and cultural practice. I also believe that knowledge is situated in different places. As a result, my research focuses on both dominant and alternative narratives to cities and planning, amplifies voices that are often silenced, and seeks to include communities that are socially and spatially marginalized.