Ariel Bierbaum

Assistant Professor

Dr. Bierbaum’s research examines the links between planning practice, urban politics, and public education. Her research builds understanding of how planning supports or hinders educational equity and racial justice for historically marginalized youth and families, and how public schools play a role in urban planning and governance. She is particularly interested in the ways that policy and planning for neighborhoods and schools – as distinct and intertwined endeavors – have created landscapes that codify race and class hierarchies endemic to the United States’ social, political, and economic structures. Using primarily use qualitative methods – ethnographic observation, interviews, and archival inquiry, Dr. Bierbaum’s recent projects look at the institutional contexts of planning practice, cross-sector collaboration, and policy formation, as well as on-the-ground issues, the experience of being planned, and the consequences of planning interventions. Recent projects have focused on neighborhood and school change, transportation and educational equity, and access to opportunity.

Dr. Bierbaum is a fellow with the Maryland Equity Project in the University of Maryland College of Education. Her research has appeared in the Journal of Planning Education and Research, Urban Education, and the Transportation Research Record. The National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation, the University of Maryland Division of Research, the Poverty and Race Research Action Council, and Enterprise Community Partners have sponsored my research.

Dr. Bierbaum brings 20 years of experience in the non-profit and public sectors, working in public policy, community development, and community arts. Most recently, she served as the Program Director and Senior Researcher at the UC-Berkeley Center for Cities and Schools, a policy research and technical assistance center that promotes high-quality education as an essential component of creating equitable, healthy, and sustainable communities. She is a member of the American Planning Association Public Schools Interest Group, and currently sits on the board of the 21st Century School Fund and as an advisor to the Active Voice Lab’s The Future of Public initiative. She earned her PhD in City and Regional Planning from the University of California-Berkeley, a Master in City Planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a Bachelor of Arts in urban studies from the University of Pennsylvania.



Headshot of Dr. Ariel Bierbaum standing in front of a red brick wall.
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