I am a German-American urbanist, urban planning academic and environmental advocate who believes in the crucial importance of “getting cities right.” My work seeks to meaningfully contribute to the creation of more socially just and environmentally sustainable human settlements. My experience combines over 20 years of policy advocacy and consulting for non-profits and for major international institutions such as UN Habitat and the World Bank with an only slightly shorter transatlantic career in academia.
The majority of my academic training has been in urban and regional planning and in policy development but I have additional graduate training in international affairs and urban design. The broad unifying question in my scholarship is the creation of sustainable and equitable cities – and how these are defined in different geographical contexts. My core emphasis has been on the key role different transportation infrastructures play in shaping human settlements and the socioeconomic conditions and opportunities of their inhabitants. I firmly believe that the creation of automobile-oriented cities with high carbon footprints constitutes the most fundamental planning mistake of the 20th century, with important repercussions for all 21st century life on this planet. More recently, I have begun to explore locational conflicts and related discourses around “sharing” cities, with a particular emphasis on variations of “urban commoning” that emphasize social and environmental goals in lieu of profit maximization. I typically employ qualitative social science methods with a particular penchant for doing comparative case study research.
Besides publishing my award-winning dissertation, Planning for a Sustainable Europe, as a monograph with Berlin University of Technology back in 2006, I have published ten co-edited books on a wide variety of planning-related subjects, along with a multitude of journal articles, book chapters, major research reports and other diverse writings. Many of them are available at https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Deike_Peters.
Overall, my scholarship can be divided into three major thematic subsets. As a passionate advocate for environmentally sustainable and socially equitable transportation and mobility, I have often done advocacy-oriented research to elicit and promote best practices in rail transport, public transit and non-motorized (aka “active”) transportation.
As a comparative urbanist and planning theorist, however, I have also sought to step away from normative definitions and re-problematize many of the concepts and categories (e.g. “sustainability” “rationality” “global cities”) planners often take as given and have employed discourse analytical strategies to highlight planning controversies and locational conflicts.
To some extent, my work with regard to these thematic subsets correlates with the major geographical and chronological stations of my academic life. I am currently embarking on a major new arena of scholarship that, broadly speaking, seeks to better delineate and define the environmental and social dimensions of “sharing cities” and “urban commoning.”