2017 Ed McClure Award
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2017 Winner: Rachel Gaffney

The Ed McClure Award recognizes superior scholarship in a paper prepared by a masters student in an ACSP-member school. Submissions may address any topic of investigation generated in the course of pursuing a master’s degree in urban/city/community/town/regional planning.

Rachel Gaffney is the recipient of the 2017 Ed McClure Award for Best Masters Student Paper.

Rachel is currently completing her master’s degree in Regional and City Planning at the University of Oklahoma. She will graduate with a specialization in Community and Economic Development in the spring of 2018. Rachel also holds a Bachelor of Arts in Social Psychology and Sociology from Hampshire College. Rachel’s professional interests include food systems planning, housing policy, regional planning, economic development, and gentrification. She looks forward to becoming a practicing planner upon completion of her degree.

Here’s A Closer Look at our recent conversation with Rachel:

Q: How did you feel when you learned you won the Ed McClure Award?
A: I felt honored and excited. This conference will be my first time presenting my academic work in a professional setting.

Q: Who do you want to thank, if anyone?
A: I would like to thank my professor, Bryce Lowery, for teaching the class that inspired this project and for encouraging me to pursue this award. I would also like to thank my partner, Dana Mendes, for his boundless faith in me.

Q: What inspired you about this project? 
A: I think that examining food systems can encourage a more ecological perspective towards planning. Incorporating food into planning encourages a renewed focus on the human experience of space and society, which traditional planning theories have sometimes lacked. As my project progressed I began to see many connections that I had not considered before: from food and public health to housing policy, economic development policies, land use priorities, public education, and mass incarceration. When I examined inequalities in access to food, I found that it could not truly be separated from other societal inequities. Societal inequities are incredibly interconnected and food systems illustrate that very compellingly.

Q: What's next?
A: I am on track to complete my master's degree in the spring of 2018. I hope to begin my planning career with a planning position in a city government.

For more information on the Ed McClure Award, click here.


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.


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