University of Michigan Gateway Ford School

Profiles of University of Michigan Faculty Experts in State and Local Policy Areas

Professor Richard Norton

Assistant Professor of Urban Planning, Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning

Faculty Associate, Program in the Environment

Years On UM Faculty: 4

Faculty website
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When asked how he thinks communication between academics and policymakers can be improved, Professor Norton states:

"Policy-makers are very concerned with pressing problems that need to be solved right now. As academics, we need to be responsive to these needs. Our greater role, however, is to step back and look systematically at the big picture. We need to be ready to point out unintended long-term effects of policy decisions. The challenge is in finding a way to do this while maintaining our relevance to policy practitioners."


Land use and environmental planning, policy, and law; local planning for sustainable development.


"Renovate or Relocate? An Assessment of Local School Board Decision-Making and Sprawl in Michigan.". Sprawling land use is an issue of concern in Michigan. One important aspect of the debate involves the question of whether new exurban schools cause sprawl. Yet virtually all of the research on this issue has been conducted by public interest advocacy groups, and much of the analysis has been anecdotal. This project continues and complements a case study analysis conducted by an Urban and Regional Planning graduate student. It was designed to address the preliminary question of what factors lead a school board to relocate rather than renovate. The study has been based on parallel web-based surveys of school district superintendents and local administrators across the State of Michigan. A report presenting findings will be available soon.

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University of Michigan Gateway Ford School Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy