Diane E. Davis is the Charles Dyer Norton Professor of Regional Planning and Urbanism at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design. Before moving to the GSD in 2011, Davis served as the head of the International Development Group in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at MIT, where she also had a term as Associate Dean of the School of Architecture and Planning. Trained as an urban sociologist with a background in geography and an interest in governance, Davis studies the spatial correlates of development, whether local, regional, or national. In recent years she has focused her attention on sustainability and the governance of risk in an era of climate change. Recent research projects include a focus on water infrastructure and regional development. She is currently leading a project for the World Bank/International Financial Corporation on building resilience in disaster-prone cities and regions; and has been contracted to development engagement and outreach materials for the Toronto-based Urban Economy Forum, which is committed to mobilizing policymakers, NGOS, and governing authorities in the advancement of SDG#11, which focuses on cities and communities.
A prior recipient of research fellowships from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Heinz Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Social Science Research Council, the United States Institute for Peace, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the Carnegie Corporation of New York, Davis recently authored a study of Urban Resilience in Situations of Chronic Violence, prepared for USAID, which examines the coping and adapting strategies adopted by citizens and authorities to push back against violence in seven cities around the world. She has just completed two separate initiatives, for which she was Principal Investigator: a three-year project funded by the Volvo Research and Educational Foundations (VREF) focused on the role of political leadership in transforming urban transport and a three-year project funded by Mexico’s national workers’ housing agency (INFONAVIT) oriented toward developing more sustainable social housing policies for Mexican cities. Founder and curator of the Mexican Cities Initiative at Harvard’s GSD, Davis is Co-Chair of the David Rockefeller Center’s Faculty Committee on Mexico, member of the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs (WCFIA) Executive Committee, and a contributing editor for the US Library of Congress, Handbook of Latin American Studies (Sociology: Mexico). She has served on the editorial boards of the Journal of Planning Education and Research, City and Community, and the Journal of Latin American Studies.
The Salata Institute
The Salata Institute supports interdisciplinary research that leads to real-world action, including high-risk/high-reward projects by researchers already working in the climate area and new endeavors that make it easier for Harvard scholars, who have not worked on climate problems, to do so.