Core Faculty

Mary M. Edwards

Associate Professor of Urban and Regional Planning
PhD, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1997

Mary Edwards teaches courses in state and local public finance, health and planning and urban history, theory and policy. Her research contributions are intended to advance both planning scholarship and practice surrounding issues of growth and change. Her research has contributed to planning scholarship and practice by adding to the larger discussion of the consequences of urban growth and development. Overall, it has demonstrated that:  1) fundamental approaches to planning like smart growth are limited in practice;  2) standard tools of planning, like fiscal impact analysis are inadequate and better tools that will inform and ultimately improve local decision making are necessary; and 3) the consequences of growth, in particular annexation, are complicated and often defy commonly-held perceptions.

Her most recent project involves a practice known as “municipal underbounding,” in which targeted populations, often racial minorities, living at the fringe of communities (in unincorporated areas) are systematically bypassed for annexation and excluded from incorporation into a city. Municipal underbounding, which is partly related to fiscal impacts, has gained recent attention in scholarly work, but this attention has been limited to examinations of patterns of annexation and racial exclusion in the nonmetropolitan South. Similar issues may play out in other smaller communities that are experiencing more recent influxes of minority populations, and these situations are less studied and poorly understood. For example, Midwestern communities have experienced significant growth in Latina/o population, yet few have studied the process of urban growth, specifically annexation, in relation to this new population.  This research examines the patterns of annexation in the Midwest to determine whether underbounding is present here, too, and, if so, what its determinants and consequences are and possible policy responses.

A new research and teaching interest explores the evolving role of health considerations in land use planning. In her new course, Planning for Healthy Cities, she highlights historical and current theories on the relationship between public health and the built environment, as well as prescriptions for healthy urban design.

Professor Edwards received a Ph.D. in urban and regional planning from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a specialization in fiscal planning and public policy analysis. She also holds a Master’s degree in economics with a specialization in public sector economics and a Master’s degree in urban planning and policy. She is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners.

Contact Information
Room M204
Temple Buell Hall
611 Lorado Taft Drive
Champaign, IL 61820
Phone: 217.333.3211
Fax: 217.244.1717

Current Research Areas

Primary research interests are in the areas of land use planning and policy, the links between health and the built environment, state and local finance and intergovernmental relations, with a particular emphasis on the impacts of various development patterns and the broad effects of growth on communities.

Selected Publications

Edwards, Mary M. 2011. Municipal Annexation: Does State Policy Matter?  Land Use Policy, 28 (1): 325-333.

Edwards Mary M. and Jack R. Huddleston. 2010.  Prospects and Perils of Fiscal Impact Analysis. Journal of the American Planning Association 76 (1): 25-41.

Jepson, Jr., Edward and Mary M. Edwards. 2010. How Possible is Sustainable Development? An Analysis of Planners’ Perceptions About New Urbanism, Smart Growth and Ecological City. Planning, Practice and Research, 25 (4): 417-437.

Edwards, Mary M. and Yu Xiao. 2009. Annexation, Local Government Spending and the Complicating Role of Density. Urban Affairs Review 45 (2): 147-165.

Edwards, Mary M. 2008. Understanding the Complexities of Annexation. Journal of Planning Literature 23(2): 119-135.

Edwards, Mary M. 2007. Public Finance in Planning Education and Practice. Journal of Planning Education and Research 27 (2): 217-27.

Edwards, Mary M., and A Haines. 2007. Evaluating Smart Growth: Implications for Small Communities. Journal of Planning Education and Research 27 (1): 49-64.

Edwards, Mary M. and Laura Lawson. 2005. The Evolution of Planning in East St. Louis. Journal of Planning History 4(4): 356-382.

Edwards, Mary. 2001. Fiscal Impact Analysis: Does Method Matter? Journal of the Community Development Society 32, 1.

Edwards, Mary and Douglas Jackson-Smith. 2001. The Cost of Community Services in Three Wisconsin Communities. Journal of the Community Development Society 32, 2.

Edwards, Mary M. 2000. Annexation: A Winner Take All Process? State and Local Government Review 31, 3: 221-231.

Mary M. Edwards