Susmita Rishi, Ph.D

FacStaff Name Associate Professor
Landscape Architecture and Regional & Community Planning

2096 Seaton Hall | 920C N. Martin King Jr. Drive
Manhattan, KS 66506
T: (785) 532-5961 | Curriculum Vitae

I am a critical urban scholar, and her scholarly work challenges and reconceptualizes hegemonic ontologies, epistemologies, and pedagogies that under-gird the overarching fields of urban and built environment studies. I received my doctoral degree in Interdisciplinary Urban Design and Planning from the University of Washington, Seattle. I also hold a Master’s in Architecture with a focus on Urban and Community Design from Pennsylvania State University and have many years of practice experience as an Urban Design and Architect. My research interests lie at the intersection of housing, informality, everyday politics, and southern theory. I believe that in order to create a more sustainable present and future, we must understand and cater to the needs of all members of society. To that end, I see my role as actively questioning and reorienting the epistemologies and ontologies on which planning, and design decisions are made. As a scholar, I try to understand space, particularly the space of the home and informal settlements from the perspective of the marginalized residents of such spaces. As a teacher, I bring this understanding to my students and encourage them to re-examine the perspectives through which they understand the world.

At K-State, I teach courses and lead research that utilizes my familiarity with planning, and housing policy in North America, its overlaps with social justice issues and my expertise in urbanization in the global South and international planning and urban design. My dissertation research and ongoing project in India “Reconceptualizing Value and Space: Learning from the slumdwellers of Delhi” challenges and reconceptualizes the knowledges on which planning decisions are made, particularly those pertaining to urban informal spaces and housing. This work has resulted in two peer-reviewed publications: “International Planning education: Towards A Global Shared Commons of Planning” published in the Special Issue: Planning Practices and Theories from the Global South in 2021 and “Megacities and Slums: Learning from Delhi’s Experience” published in The Routledge Handbook on Planning Megacities in the Global South in 2020, with two more under production. Developing my research agenda further, in an ongoing project titled “Quiet Social Movements” I focus on the ways in which place and space shape processes and terrains of resistance, when the resistance and activism is small, quiet and every day in nature. A themed special issue on the same topic of Environment and Planning C that I am co-editing is awaiting final publication date from the journal. In line with my understanding of the global South as not a place but rather a series of circumstances and conditions mediated by capitalism that led to a state of lack, I am working on a project on with others on campus on “Housing as a Social Institution”. Further, I am also starting a project on mobile and trailer home parks as affordable housing solutions in Riley County titled “Double-Wide Lives: Dreams of home and prosperity in trailer parks”.

My pedagogical philosophy, inspired by my experience as an architect and urban designer as well as a qualitative researcher and international student, is about equipping students with practical skills, critical analytic abilities, theoretical depth, reflexivity, and ethics to foster just and socially sustainable cities. To that end, I emphasize active critical inquiry and personal reflection using the urban region, as a laboratory. Since 2018, I have led students in my courses in several contract-funded service-learning projects across Kansas and the Midwest. The aim of these projects was for students to apply urban design theories that they were learning, to a real-world context. The students were awarded the APA Regional Horizon Award for the Beloit project at the APA Quad States conference in 2019. Visioning work for Norfolk Nebraska can be found here and for South Des Moines, Iowa can be found here.

Course Taught:

PLAN 215 World Cities

PLAN 510 Digital Representation and Composition for Planners

PLAN 640 Urban Design and Development

PLAN 650 Housing and Development

PLAN 707 Writing and Thinking the City

PLAN 897 Proposal Writing

LAR 806 Proposal Writing

CDPLN 702 Housing and Community Development