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Eric Bettis

Ph.D. Student in Urban Planning
Dissertation: Regional Transit and Rhetorical Resistance: Anti-Transit Sentiment, Racial Language, and the Politics of Metropolitan Demographic Change

Eric is a PhD candidate in urban planning, focusing on transportation planning and social equity. Drawn to planning during his years working in architecture and doing graduate research on the politics of identity, he pursued a master’s degree in urban and regional planning, with emphases on transportation and land use policy, from the University of New Orleans. This provided an ideal venue for studying enduring patterns in the race- and class-dependent distribution of transportation resources and their implications for accessing opportunity. After graduating in 2014, Eric began his professional planning career working on federal and military projects.

Eric’s work focuses on the effects of historically inequitable social processes on current planning policy and outcomes, as well as institutions that create and maintain relative advantages for some regional groups over others. His dissertation project discusses how anti-transit political rhetoric is deployed in segregated and increasingly integrated metro regions, and how changing demographics affect support for regional transit expansion. Using GIS mapping, demographic data, archival research, and ongoing consultation with local planning practitioners and scholars, Eric’s project analyzes how actors use targeted language to influence local transit voting, as well as the roles of geography and population shifts in influencing attitudes about public transportation.

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