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Assistant Professor – Instructional 

(215) 204-6261
340 Gladfelter Hall
1115 W. Berks St.


Neoliberal urban governance, Local economic development, Community organizations, Labor-community coalitions, Economic justice, Environmental justice, Urban sustainability, Rust Belt


I am a broadly trained human geographer with a particular interest in contemporary urban affairs. My research investigates the practices of labor, community and faith groups that devise policy solutions for a just economy, as well as offer alternatives to punitive approaches to homelessness. I employ qualitative methodology, with analysis focused on microspaces within the city where justice groups negotiate various forms of resistance. I incorporate these efforts into community-university partnerships to facilitate active learning and advocacy in urban social and environmental justice.

My dissertation examined the struggles for sustainability, justice and inclusion in poor Rust Belt communities. I investigated the interrelationships between deindustrialization, brownfields, planning, as well as environmental and economic justice in Milwaukee’s inner-city neighborhoods. I show how Milwaukee’s sanitized terrain of community development politics, along with exclusionary planning practices, particularly impeded attempts to foster community participation and organizing capacity in inner-city redevelopment. I further demonstrate the spatial, political and organizing strategies of labor-community coalitions that allowed for a new geographical strategy for equitable economic development: the establishment of areas reserved for ‘‘good jobs’’ for local residents. My recent project has examined alternatives to neoliberal punitive approaches to homelessness. I focus on other spaces of practice that speak less of social control than of compassion and care – namely, the Catholic Worker Movement house of hospitality. Using the Catholic Action Center in Lexington, Kentucky as a case study, I examine: the ways in which non-punitive, community approaches to urban homelessness are envisioned, negotiated and expressed in alternative spaces of praxis; and, what possibilities these forms of practice offer for social justice change.

Selected Publications

  • Holifield, R. and Zupan, S. 2014. Keep Costumes Out, Keep Trains In: Defining and Defending Spaces for “Good Jobs” in a Rust Belt City. GeoJournal, 79 (3): 309-328.
  • Zupan, S. 2011. Enacting an Equitable Agenda: Exploring Community Strategies in Milwaukee’s Inner-City Redevelopment. Urban Geography, 32 (7): 1043–1065.
  • Klein, P., Fatima, M., McEwen, L., Moser, S., Schmidt, D. and Zupan, S. 2011. Dismantling the Ivory Tower: Engaging Geographers in Community Partnerships. Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 35 (3): 425-444.
  • Zupan, S. 2010. Main Street Milwaukee: Program at a Crossroads. Milwaukee: Public Policy Forum.

Curriculum Vitae

Courses Taught

  • Sustainable Environments
  • Environment and Development