UPP’s Josh Drucker’s New Book Details Theories And Applications In Economic Development

Understanding Local Economic Development

Associate professor of urban planning and policy Joshua Drucker had been teaching the book Understanding Local Economic Development long before he wrote it. The book, used as an essential text in Drucker’s economic development classes, was first published in 1999. Proving invaluable in the two decades of its existence, Drucker had the opportunity to work with several of his academic mentors to publish a revised edition of the text, published in early October with new material inspired in part by the classroom discussions that emerged from Drucker’s teaching experience.

“I learned from [the original version] and I've been teaching from it for a while,” Drucker says. “Over the years things have changed, new research and ideas on how economies work have emerged, and the original authors came to me and one of one of their other former students and said, ‘Let's all work together to update this book.’”

The original text was written by Emil Malizia and Edward J. Feser in the late 1990s. Drucker worked with both Malizia and Feser as a PhD student in City and Regional Planning at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill in the years after its initial release, giving him a chance to understand the book’s value as a student, a practitioner, and eventually as a professor at UIC. The latest edition includes contributions from Drucker, as well as from Henry Renski, currently a professor of regional planning at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.

In its second edition, Understanding Local Economic Development maintains its focus on providing an overview of the leading theories in economic development, with detailed presentations of the practical applications and discussion questions to help both practitioners and students understand the value of these theoretical foundations to their work. Two decades removed from its first version, the new edition features new sections on themes like regional innovation, agglomeration and regional inequality, bringing it into more contemporary relevance. Drucker says that there’s been “a continual feedback between the teaching and this book,” allowing him to add topics that he says he wishes were available within the book.

“I've always picked and chosen different parts of the book in my teaching,” Drucker says. “Coming back to this new edition, I can easily say, ‘Oh, that part was useful, that part wasn't useful. Oh, I tried using that part, but that didn’t work well for the students, or I had to explain it this different way.”