News & Press: ACSP Annual Conference News

A Closer Look with Honorable Mention Winner Bill Goldsmith

Monday, January 9, 2017  
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ACSP John Friedmann Book Award

Saving Our Cities: A Progressive Plan to Transform Urban America
Cornell University Press
Authored by William Goldsmith, Cornell University

Goldsmith has written a timely, penetrating assessment of contemporary urban America: a book whose title is an ambitious as its agenda. Goldsmith takes on the core challenges of the contemporary American city: concentrated poverty, racism, struggling schools, drugs, unhealthy food networks and paltry public services that exacerbate social inequality. He offers a searing indictment of the broader anti-urban state and federal political culture that imposes crippling austerity and incarceration programs on city residents. He not only offers systemic analysis, but also develops substantive policy reforms that you might agree or disagree with but can’t ignore. It is a convincing argument about the complexity of urban politics and the need for upstream policies to realize more progressive urban futures. The book both befits the spirit of the Friedmann Award and challenges the planning field to not lose sight of its pressing agenda.

ACSP recently connected with Bill to find out more about this accomplishment.

How did you feel when you won the award?
Delighted, of course. I have been a student (indirectly), a fan, and for many years a friend of John Friedmann, so it was a very special jolt to learn that I’d won an award in his name. I was especially pleased that the award committee agreed with me that “sustainability” is a broad concept, encompassing social and economic issues.

Who do you want to thank, if any?
I thank the awards committee, of course — and in the book itself I make clear my debt to many other planners and scholars.

Bill's Bio
William W. Goldsmith taught city planning, urban studies, political economy, and international "development" at Cornell University 1967 - 2012. He has published widely on US cities, segregation, and poverty, but also on international urbanization and regional development. He lived, studied, and taught in Latin America and in Italy. He co-edited Urban and Regional Planning in an Age of Austerity (1980) and co-authored Separate Societies: Poverty and Inequality in U.S. Cities (1992, 2010). His new book is Saving Our Cities: A Progressive Plan to Transform Urban America (2016). Raised in San Francisco, he holds a BSCE from UC Berkeley and a PhD from Cornell.

In Saving Our Cities I argue that the most important 'urban' policies we can pursue are those that are not actually regarded as 'urban' at all. To improve our cities we need 'upstream' policies that address social problems that disproportionately harm urban areas. Federal and state decisions, often in suport of corporate goals, harm city residents by promoting austerity, unequal schools, bad food, and the drug war. The time is right for cities (and city planners) to push for more enlightened state and federal action.

About ACSP Awards
Each year ACSP is proud to honor faculty and students who have distinguished themselves or made major contributions to the academy or to the profession via outreach efforts, public service or for service to ACSP, the Academy, or the profession. A complete listing and history for all awards can be found at

John Friedmann is a widely-recognized planning scholar with an exceptionally distinguished career. He has contributed in many ways to the field of urban and regional planning, through his writings on planning theory, regional development planning, and world cities. He is the author of 26 books and close to 200 articles, and has received many distinguished awards (see below). He has also offered unstinting service to the planning academy, both through his varied teaching career and through his co-sponsorship of activities designed to support doctoral students in planning.

The Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning (ACSP) established the John Friedmann Book Award in 2013. This award is presented to a book or comparable work that best exemplifies scholarship in the area of planning for sustainable development.


The Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning promotes education, research, service and outreach in the United States and throughout the world by seeking to:

  • recognize diverse needs and interests in planning;
  • improve and enhance the accreditation process, and;
  • strengthen the role of planning education in colleges and universities through publications, conferences, and community engagement;
  • extend planning beyond the classroom into the world of practice.