2022 Marilyn J. Gittell Activist Scholar Award

This year, Dr. Loretta Lees (Leicester University) was selected as the recipient of the 2022 Marilyn J. Gittell Activist Scholar Award. This award was established to highlight field-based urban scholarship and promote the dissemination of work by activist urban scholars. The award is co-sponsored by SAGE Publishing and UAA. The inspiration for this award is the career of Dr. Marilyn J. Gittell, former Director of the Howard Samuels Center and Professor of Political Science at The Graduate School at City University of New York. Dr. Gittell was an outstanding scholar and a community activist who wrote seminal works on citizen participation, and was founding editor of Urban Affairs Quarterly, (now known as Urban Affairs Review). Thus, the award seeks to honor the contributions of a scholar whose research record shows a direct relationship between activism, scholarship, and engagement with community(ies).

Award Committee Assessment:

Loretta Lees
Loretta Lees (University of Leicester)

“The 2022 Marilyn J. Gittell Activist Scholar Award is made to Dr. Loretta Lees, Professor of Human Geography at the University of Leicester. Dr. Lees is a prolific and internationally known academic; her work to theorize and describe gentrification, displacement, and dispossession has been essential for urban studies scholars around the world. Along with her influential academic research, Dr. Lees has been highly engaged in policy and community planning processes, working alongside local residents, elected officials, planners, and activists to build knowledge networks to advance more just housing and urban regeneration policies. For example, her Staying Put! An anti-gentrification toolkit project, a collaboration between grassroots groups and academics, has been translated in 5 languages as its analyses have created a platform for policy dialogues in multiple cities. In England, Dr. Lees’ work to document and map displacement and community resistance has significantly shifted policies for social housing redevelopment, the replacement of demolished units, and the right of residents to return. Dr. Lees’ career is a powerful model of bridging academic and community knowledge and supporting social movements towards more just and equitable cities. ”

Award Committee:

Lisa Bates (Portland State University), Sarah Krusemark (Hunter College), Ashley Nickels (Kent State University), Hayden Shelby (University of Cincinnati), Barbara Wilson (University of Virginia)

Award Winner:

Loretta Lees (FAcSS, FRSA, FHEA) earned her Ph.D in Human Geography from the University of Edinburgh. She is currently Professor of Human Geography at Leicester University but will be Director of the Initiative on Cities at Boston University from July 1st 2022. Dr. Lees has held academic positions at Waikato University, the University of British Columbia, and King’s College London (where she worked for 16 years and was Chair of the Cities Research Group). She has published 17 books, 66 peer-reviewed articles, and 43 book chapters on topics ranging from gentrification/urban regeneration, global urbanism, urban policy, urban public space, architecture, urban social theory, and scholar-activism. She is currently Chair of the London Housing Panel working with the Mayor of London and Trust for London on housing policy. She sits on the International Advisory Board of the Small Business Anti-Displacement Network (SBAN), University of Maryland’s National Center for Smart Growth Education & Research. Since 2009 she has co-organised The Urban Salon: A London forum for architecture, cities and international urbanism and since 2016 the Leicester Urban Observatory. In 2017 Urban Studies identified her as the 17th most referenced author in urban geography worldwide and the only woman in the top 20.

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