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Yonn Dierwechter, Ph.D.

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Geography and Environment
London School of Economics
Urban and Regional Planning
Cornell University
University of Iowa


Yonn Dierwechter is Professor of Urban Studies at the University of Washington, Tacoma. His research focuses on the emerging geographies of comparative metropolitan planning practices; state/space relationships; and the links between urban growth management/smartness, sustainability policies, internationalism, and comparative city-regionalism. As an urban political geographer with a focus on spatial planning systems, he typically explores how various forms of power shape urban and regional spaces, drawing on work in critical urban geography, planning studies, historical institutionalism, and sustainability studies.

Yonn’s major books include: ‘The Urbanization of Green Internationalism’ (2019, Palgrave); ‘Smart transitions in city-regionalism: territory, politics, and the quest for competitiveness and sustainability’ (2018, Routledge, with Tassilo Herrschel); ‘Urban sustainability through smart growth: planning, intercurrence and the geographies of regional development across Greater Seattle’ (Springer, 2017); and ‘Urban growth management and its discontents: promises, practices, and geopolitics in US city-regions’ (Palgrave, 2008).

He has published extensively in journals such as Geoforum, Urban Geography, Urban Studies, The Journal of Urbanism, Environment and Planning A, The Journal of Environmental Policy and Planning, Professional Geographer, Space and Polity, Territorio, Social Science Journal, Regions, and International Development Planning Review, among many other scholarly outlets.

Before his academic career, Yonn taught for a year at a teacher-training university in China, worked for several years as a community development planner in early post-apartheid South Africa, and served as a state legislative policy analyst in Indiana. Since joining the faculty in September 2001, he has consulted extensively with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development in Paris on projects in Germany, Italy, Australia, France, and South Africa. He has also served locally on multiple civic bodies for the City of Tacoma, Metro Parks, and University Place.

In the classroom, Yonn normally teaches a series of courses in both the Urban Studies and Sustainable Urban Development majors, including Cities in World Development, Land Use Planning, Understanding Metropolitan Regions, and Green Internationalism, and is also responsible for teaching Planning Theory and Practice in the graduate program in Community Planning. He is particularly interested in asking his students to consider cities and urban issues from a comparative global perspective, drawing on key debates and insights from international history, world regional geography, and spatial planning systems to contextualize and make sense of US experiences in a broader analytical framework.

Yonn holds a master’s degree in City and Regional Planning from Cornell University and a PhD in Geography from the London School of Economics. He is the 2014 winner of UWT’s Distinguished Research Award and was also awarded a Canada Fulbright Research Chair at the University of Calgary in 2019, where he worked on the social and environmental implications of “smart cities” with members of the Smart Cities Research Group. In addition to his work on smart cities in Canada, his current research is focused on two major book projects. The first is a co-edited book based on a Regional Studies Association research network entitled “Smart city-regional governance for sustainability.” The second major project is a monograph on the recent policy history and future prospects of urban climate action in Seattle for a new book series published by Anthem Press.

Selected Publications

Dierwechter, Y. (2021, in press). Intra-regional relationality and green city-regionalism: placing the role of ‘secondary cities.’ In M. Pendras & C. Williams. (Eds.). Secondary cities. Bristol: Policy Press.

Dierwechter, Yonn (2021, in press). Climate change and the future of Seattle. London: Anthem Press.

Dierwechter, Yonn. (2020) Urban sustainability through suburban growth? Smart regional planning in the Pacific Northwest. In R. Brinkmann and S Garren [eds], Case Studies in Sustainable Suburbs. Gainesville: University of Florida Press

Dierwechter, Yonn. (2020) The Urbanization of Green Geopolitics: State Space and Global Unsustainability. In Jonas, A and S Moisio [eds] Handbook on Changing Geographies of the State. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.

Dierwechter, YA and Pendras M. (2020). Keeping blue collars in green cities: from TOD to TOM. Frontiers in Sustainability: Governance and Cities 2(7): 1-6. doi: 10.3389/frsc.2020.00007.

Ricker, Britta, Cinnaman, Jon, and Yonn Dierwechter (2020). When Open Data and Data Activism Meet: An Analysis of Civic Participation in Cape Town, South Africa. The Canadian Beographer / le Géographe Canadien.

Dierwechter, Yonn (2020). “New Urbanism as Urban Political Development: Racial Geographies of ‘Intercurrence’ across Greater Seattle.” Urban Planning 5(4): DOI: 10.17645/up.v5i4.3340.

Dierwechter, Yonn. (2019) The Urbanization of Green Internationalism. New York: Palgrave.

Herrschel, Tassilo and Yonn Dierwechter (2018). Smart transitions in city-regionalism: territory, politics, and the quest for competitiveness and sustainability. London: Routledge.

Dierwechter, Yonn. (2018) “The smart state as utopian space for urban politics.” In Jonas, A. et al. (eds). Handbook of the Spaces of Urban Politics. Routledge: London.

Dierwechter, Yonn. (2018) "Review essay: Geopolitics of the knowledge-based economy." Geografiska Annaler: Series B, Human Geography: 1-7. doi: 10.1080/04353684.2018.1558865.

Dierwechter, Yonn and Brian Coffey “The travels, triumphs, and travails of New Urbanism: discursive geographies of affirmation and dissent in US newspapers, 1990-2012.” Journal of Urbanism (2017).

Dierwechter, Yonn. (2017) Urban sustainability through smart growth: planning, intercurrence and the geographies of regional development across Greater Seattle. Cham, Switz., Springer.

Dierwechter, Yonn. (2017). “What’s smart growth got to do with smart cities?’ Territorio, 83:48-54.

Herrschel, T., & Dierwechter, Y. (2015). Smart city-regional governance: a dual transition Regions, 300(4), 20-22.

Modarres, A., & Dierwechter, Y. (2015). Infrastructure and the shaping of American urban geography. Cities, 47(0), 81-94. 

Dierwechter, Y. (2014). The Spaces that Smart Growth Makes: Sustainability, Segregation, and Residential Change Across Greater Seattle. Urban Geography, 35(5), 691-714.

Dierwechter, Yonn. (2013) "Smart city-regionalism in Seattle: progressing transit nodes in labor space?" Geoforum 49: 139-149.

Dierwechter, Yonn. (2013) "Smarth growth and state territoriality." Urban Studies 50(11): 2275-2292.

Dierwechter, Yonn and Anne Taufen Wessells. (2013) "The uneven localization of climate action in metropolitan Seattle." Urban Studies 50 (7): 1368-1385.

Pendras, Mark and Yonn Dierwechter (2012). "The problematic potential of universities to advance critical urban politics. " Journal of Geography in Higher Education. 36(2): 1-15.

Dierwechter, Yonn and Andy Thornley (2012). "Urban Planning and Regulation: The Challenge of the Market." In Randall Crane and Rachel Weber, eds. The Oxford Handbook in Urban Planning. Oxford University Press.

Dierwechter, Yonn.  “Rural-urban linkages in Forli-Cesana, Italy.” Research report prepared for the OECD Directorate of Public Governance and Territorial Development. OECD. Paris, France.  May 2012. 

Dierwechter, Yonn.  “Metropolitan rural-urban review: Nuremberg, Germany.” Research report prepared for the OECD Directorate of Public Governance and Territorial Development. OECD. Paris, France.  February 2012.  

Dierwechter, Yonn.  “Intercommunitalite in Rennes, France.” Research report prepared for the OECD Directorate of Public Governance and Territorial Development. OECD. Paris, France. June 2012. 

Dierwechter, Yonn. “(R)urban regionalism in Geelong, Australia.”  Research report prepared for the OECD Directorate of Public Governance and Territorial Development. OECD. Paris, France.  August 2012. Dierwechter, Yonn (2010). Metropolitan geographies of US climate action: cities, suburbs, and the 'local divide' in global responsibilities. Journal of Environmental Policy and Planning 12(1): 59-82.

Dierwechter, Yonn and Brian Coffey (2010). "Assessing the effects of neighborhood councils on urban governance: the case of Tacoma, Washington." Social Science Journal 47(3): 1-20.

Dierwechter, Yonn (2008) Urban Growth Management and Its Discontents: Promises, Practices, and Geopolitics in US City-Regions. New York: Palgrave-Macmillan. 298 pages. See

OECD (2008) OECD Territorial Reviews: Cape Town, South Africa. Paris: OECD. [Consulting author and contributor.] See:

Dierwechter, Yonn.  “Territorial review of the Cape Town City Region: socio-economic trends and issues in metropolitan governance.”  Research report prepared for the OECD Directorate of Public Governance and Territorial Development, Paris: OECD. (2008). Incorporated in OECD Territorial Reviews: Cape Town, South Africa.  2008. Paris: OECD.   

Carlson, Tom and Yonn Dierwechter (2007). "Effects of urban growth boundaries on residential development in Pierce County, Washington." Professional Geographer 56(2): 209-220.

Dierwechter, Yonn (2006). "The geographical limitations of neoliberalism: urban planning and the occluded territoriality of informal survival in African Cape Town." Space and Polity 10(3): 243-262.

Dierwechter, Yonn (2006). "Urban planning." Nick Manning, Gill Pascall, James Midgely and Huck-ju Kwo. Eds. International Encyclopedia of Social Policy. London, Routledge.

Coffey, Brian and Yonn Dierwechter (2005). "The university as a vehicle for inner-city renewal: the example of the University of Washington, Tacoma." In Wim Wieval and David Perry. University as Developer: The University, the City and Real Estate Development.

Dierwechter, Yonn. (2004). “Dreams, bricks and bodies: mapping ‘neglected spatialities’ in African Cape Town.”  Environment and Planning a 36: 959-981. 

Dierwechter, Yonn.  (2002). “Six cities of the informal sector — and beyond.”  International Development Planning Review 24(1): 21-40.

Dierwechter, Yonn. “Lefebvre’s modernities: informality, planning, and space in Cape Town.”  In Rydin, Y and Thornley A, (Eds). Planning in a Global Era. London, Ashgate (2001). 

Dierwechter, Yonn. (2000). “Accessing food: Informal practice, local actor-networks and quality of life in Cape Town, South Africa.”  In Foo, T.S. and L.L. Yuan.  Planning for a Better Quality of Life in Cities. National University of Singapore, Singapore. pp. 145-162.  

Dierwechter, Yonn. “Clinton’s Third Way: Left, Right and All-American.”  In Yalçintan, M. ( Ed). Ucuncu Yol Arayislari ve Turkiye (The Third Way Debate in Turkey).  Buluk Press, Istanbul (1999).