Robert H. Wilson

Director, Sustainable Global Cities Initiative

Visiting Professor, Department of Public Policy

Primary Research Theme

Economic and Community Development

Secondary Research Themes

Built Environment, Governance and Urban Services

Research Interests

Robert Wilson’s research interests include urban policy, metropolitan governance, urban economic development and comparative public policy, especially in the Americas. His research is generally framed in terms of economic geography and understanding disparities across regions and metropolitan areas. Wilson’s work has been supported by Organization of American States, Urban Institute, National Academy of Science, the U.S. Department of Education, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, U.S. Department of Defense, Congressional Research Service, Fulbright Commission, Banco de Desenvolvimento do Nordeste and SUDENE (Brazil), National Association of Counties, and the Ford Foundation. He served as Public Policy Scholar, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars (Washington, DC); Visiting International Philips Professor at the Getulio Vargas Foundation, São Paulo; and the Fulbright/FLAD ChaChair in Knowledge Management Policies at the Advanced Technical Institute, Lisbon.

Recent Cities-related Projects

  • Metropolitan Development: Does Governance Matter? Large metropolitan areas have increasingly become the key sites for wealth generation and disparities in quality of life concerns around the world. The question facing the metropolis is at the same time simple and complicated: how best to develop an institutional architecture of government and governance that can offer macro-level policy development and implementation across what is often a complex raft of individual governments, institutions, and agencies.
  • Aligning Public Policy and Economic Development in Connecticut. Despite considerable assets, the economy of the State of Connecticut has not regained the level of performance achieved prior to the great recession. Demographic (long term) and housing markets and public finance (short to mid-term) trends are not favorable. This program of study will examine existing public policies, of state and local government and actions by nongovernmental organizations, that promote inclusive development and technological innovation.
  • Urban Resilience to Climate Change in Africa.  The capacity of governmental systems to prepare for and respond to climate change and climate-related hazards is examined in ten large urban areas in Africa utilizing a comparative methodology. This policy domain involves scientific information as well as governmental policy frameworks and a diversity of international organizations, multilateral, non-governmental, and bilateral development agencies.

Selected Urban-Related Publications

“Latin America’s Future Policy Challenges: A Ten Year Time Horizon,” (with Peter M. Ward), Latin America Policy (2019).

“Urban Resilience to Climate Change Challenges in Africa,” (with Todd G. Smith), in International Handbook of Cities and the Environment, Kevin Archer and Kris Bezdecny, eds. (Edward Elgar Publishing, 2016).

LBJ’s Neglected Legacy: How Lyndon Johnson Reshaped Domestic Policy and Government, co-ed (with Norman Glickman and Lawrence Lynn) (University of Texas Press, 2015).

Growth Policy in the Age of High Technology: The Role of Regions and State, ed. (with Jurgen Schmandt) (London: Unwin Hyman, 2014 and 1990).

Metropolitan Governance in the Federalist Americas, co-ed (with Peter Spink and Peter Ward) (University of Notre Dame Press, 2012).

Urban Segregation and Governance in the Americas, co-ed. (with Bruan Roberts) (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009).

Governance in the Americas: Decentralization, Democracy and Subnational Government in Brazil, Mexico and the United States, co-authored (with Victoria Rodriguez,, Peter Spink, and Peter Ward) (University of Notre Dame Press, 2008).

The Political Economy of Brazil, coauthored (Lawrence Graham) (University of Texas Press, 1990, 2012).

“Metropolitan Governance in the Federalist Americas.” (with Peter K. Spink and Peter M. Ward), in Global Trends in the Public Sector, Michiel S. de Vries and Juraj Nemec, eds. (Editions Bruylant, 2012) pp. 95-112.

“Decentralization, Democracy and Sub-national Governance: Comparative Reflections for Policy-making in Brazil, Mexico and the US” (with Peter Spink and Peter Ward) Regional Science Policy and Practice 2:1, (June 2010) pp. 51–62.

“Broadband Utilization in Space: Effects of Population and Economic Structure,” (with John Horrigan and Chandler Stolp), The Information Society 22:5 (2006), pp. 341-54.

Contact Information
Office LocationHTB 544