Mary M. Edwards, AICP

Associate Professor of Urban and Regional Planning

PhD, University of Wisconsin-Madison 1997

Room M204 Temple Buell Hall 611 Lorado Taft Drive
Champaign IL 61820

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Phone: 217.333.3211

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.

Ongoing Research Projects

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

Wilson, B and MM Edwards, 2014. Annexation and Ethnicity in the American Midwest, Urban Affairs Review, 50, 3: 417-447.

Edwards, Mary M. and Lisa K. Bates. 2011. Planning’s Core Curriculum: Knowledge, Practice and Implementation. Journal of Planning Education and Research. 31(2): 172-183.

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.

Teaching and Advising


  • UP203, Cities, Planning and Urban Life
  • UP407, State and Local Public Finance
  • UP340, Planning for Healthy Cities
  • UP590, Professional Internship
  • UP591, Capstone Seminar

Current advising

  • Sofia Sianis, Dissertation Advisor
  • Zaheeda Darvesh, Capstone Project Advisor
  • Grace Kyung, Capstone Project Advisor
  • Maxmillian Mahalek, Capstone Project Advisor
  • Matt Rejc. Capstone Project Advisor
  • Nancy Smebak, Capstone Project Advisor

Previous advising

  • Rachel Ezell, 2014, A Public Engagement Strategy for Flower Mound, TX
  • Andrea de Berry Melgarejo, 2014, Expanding the Use of Vacant Land for Urban Agriculture in Champaign, IL
  • Heba Elayan, Growing Prosperity: 2014, Best Practices in Urban Agriculture
  • Anna Franco, 2013, Aurora Neighborhood Plan
  • Ashley Walls, 2013, Elmwood Active Living by Design
  • Kate Ferrer, 2012, Reimagining Downtown: Creative Placemaking in Monmouth, Illinois
  • Elli Cosky, 2012, Main Street Revitalization Plan, Knoxville, Illinois
  • Edward Tseng, 2012, Return of Investment for the City of Champaign: University Research Park
  • Kate Nesse, 2012, How do we Know? Determining School District Fiscal and Administrative Policy in Rural Hispanic Boomtowns in the Midwest.
  • Laura Searfoss, 2011, Local Perspectives on HUD’s Neighborhood Stabilization Program.
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