Michael Roman-John Koscielniak
Advisor: Scott Campbell
Dissertation Committee: Scott Campbell (co-chair), Joshua Akers (UM-Dearborn; co-chair), Margaret Dewar, Martin Murray, and Robert Fishman
Specializations: Urban Decline, Urban Political Economy, Demolition, Urban Political Ecology, Political and Economic Theory, Epistemology, Mixed Methods Research
I am a PhD Candidate in Urban & Regional Planning at the University of Michigan. Broadly, I am interested in forms of urban change that do not fit with prevailing models of austerity and gentrification. I study decline, urbanization, political economy, and political ecology from a critical perspective that centers the interaction of regulation and rents to shape cities. I approach decline as a form of city-building that arranges the factors of production - land, labor, and capital - in new ways that preserve geographies of uneven development. I have expertise in housing policy, planning history and theory, community development, sustainability, and urban-environmental change.
My dissertation is one example of my research focused on unpacking and interpreting how decline is expressed through its own environments, institutions, interventions, and regulations. In "Ground Forces: Dirt, Demolition, and the Geography of Decline in Detroit, MI" I investigate how the Detroit Demolition Program (DDP) is reshaping the regional landscape of expansion, extraction, and destruction. By analyzing the 10 million cubic yards of material used to fill basements removed during demolition I illustrate how the intertwining of environment and regulation has enriched a coalition of homebuilders, excavators, haulers, mineral plants, and contractors. My work has appeared in academic journals and forthcoming articles address the politics of blight removal. My findings from this research have also appeared in a series of Detroit News reports about the DDP.
I completed my undergraduate degree in 2008 at the University of Missouri and my masters at Washington University in St Louis in 2011. I anticipate defending my dissertation in the fall 2019 term.