Meredith  Whitten

Meredith Whitten

PhD candidate in Regional and Urban Planning

Department of Geography and Environment

About me

Meredith holds an MSc in Regional and Urban Planning from the LSE. She also earned a Master of Public Affairs with an emphasis in environmental policy from the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at The University of Texas at Austin and a Bachelor of Journalism from The University of Texas at Austin.

Before beginning her PhD, Meredith had an 18-year professional career spanning the public, private and nonprofit sectors. She has worked as a policy analyst and advisor to the Texas State Legislature, a consultant for an economic development strategy firm, a public affairs officer for the Texas Department of Transportation, a research assistant for the Urban Land Institute-Europe and a writer for the Baton Rouge Business Report. She also worked as a policy analyst for The Wilderness Society, where she researched the effects of state and federal laws on federally designated wilderness areas.

Meredith currently serves as the planning advisor to the Covent Garden Community Association, the recognised amenity society for the Central London conservation area, and serves on the Greater London Authority’s Green Infrastructure Task Force.

At the LSE, Meredith teaches GY300, Theories of Regional Economic Development. She has received Teaching Excellence Awards for Inspirational Teaching (2017, 2018) and Feedback and Communication (2015), as well as the LSE Class Teacher Award (2017, 2018). She holds a full Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education (PGCertHE) and is a fellow of the UK Higher Education Academy.

Meredith has presented her research at academic and practitioner conferences and seminars, including the Association of American Geographers, the Royal Geographical Society, the Canadian Association of Geographers, the University of Texas at Austin’s LBJ School of Public Affairs and UT-Austin’s Department of Geography and the Environment, the UK Association for Public Service Excellence, and the LSE’s Urbanisation, Planning and Development research cluster. Meredith has organised sessions on urban green space at the AAG Annual Meeting every year since 2013.

She has contributed to the LSE’s Sustainability blog, the HEIF Metropolitan Green Belt research project and Urban Vignettes, a collaborative visual-blog about how people engage with city life. Additionally, she was a finalist in the AAG Landscape Speciality Group’s 2018 photo competition and a finalist in the LSE Research Festival’s poster category.

She is actively engaged with her research topic across social media as @urbanparksgirl.

Research interests

Urban green space and urban parks

Green infrastructure and urban greening

Urban planning and policy

Compact city and urban density

Privatisation of public space

Urban governance and urban change

Land and conservation ethics

Public lands and endangered species policy

Thesis Title: Reconceptualising green space: Planning for urban green space in the contemporary city

Meredith’s research examines the influences on how urban green space is used as a planning tool to address contemporary urban challenges, such climate change, physical and mental health conditions, and conservation of biodiversity.

A heightened awareness of the role natural areas play in addressing and mitigating contemporary challenges, particularly climate change, has given rise to green infrastructure – based on the concepts of connectivity and multifunctionality – in urban and regional planning research and practice. Despite this, the convergence of the seemingly related concepts of urban green space and green infrastructure has not been smooth. This is because green space planning rigidly adheres to an institutional and cultural focus on the form and function of green space established nearly 200 years ago in Victorian England.

Using qualitative research conducted in three Inner London boroughs, Meredith’s research shows that, despite recognition that urban green spaces can do vital work for the contemporary city, governance, planning, funding and conceptual constraints that prioritise heritage limit the opportunities to realise meaningful benefits from this planning tool. Ultimately, this minimises the benefits that Londoners get from their urban green spaces, depriving the city of processes essential to its future economic, environmental and social sustainability.

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Academic supervisors

Nancy Holman
Alan Mace