Featured Faculty: Alfonso Morales

University Member School: University of Wisconsin at Madison

Alfonso Morales, PhD (Northwestern), is Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor of Planning and Landscape Architecture at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. He is a Ford Foundation postdoctoral fellow and a dissertation fellow of the American Bar Foundation.

Morales is originally from rural New Mexico with roots in family farming, there and in West Texas. He is a researcher, advocate, and practitioner/consultant on food systems and public markets as well as the organization and regulation of these activities. Morales has been invited to speak on these topics nationally and internationally, recently to Congressional staffers on behalf of the Union of Concerned Scientists. He has established a nationally and internationally recognized and policy-relevant program of research on street vendors and marketplaces that has described the organization and consequences of marketplace and vending processes historically and in different places. This work has shaped policy in New York City, Kansas City, Denver, and elsewhere. His research examines the intersection of these markets with various modalities of identity, including gender and race. He has also contributed to our understanding of business organizations, public health, and food systems. This latter work joins his interests in street commerce to food distribution, production, and formal organizations (like Housing Authorities). He has extensive experience with students in community-based outreach and research. His toolkit for farmers market managers is producing basic and applied research for farmers markets in the U.S. and Canada, (farm2facts.org).

Morales' scholarship includes four books (a fifth and sixth on the way), and more than 80 articles and book chapters supported by more than $10m of grants and contracts. His broader intellectual agenda connects reasoned thought and behavior to various kinds of interaction to social organization and back again. Thus he is interested in various manifestations of thought and organization. For instance, he has written about the problem of social order among street vendors, about how Spanish-language radio stations make “irrational” programing decisions, about how women seek care for cancer, and other topics. Currently he is most occupied with food systems, particularly food distribution modalities and urban food production and the many economic and non-economic benefits of these practices. His publications are found in Spanish and English and have appeared in the top journals of five different disciplinary associations, including Aztlan, the American Journal of Sociology, Economic Development Quarterly, the Journal of the American Planning Association, and the Law and Society Review. The USDA, the Health Resources and Services Administration, the Ford Foundation, and other agencies have supported his research and advocacy. He co-founded openair.org, a webpage for marketplaces (as well as the facebook version “openairmarketnet.” He has served on the governing boards of the Law and Society Association (twice) and the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning. His work has won a number of awards and his professional service extends beyond the classroom to community organizations and on behalf of marginalized communities.

Q: How many years have you been a member of ACSP?
A: 12

Q: Are you involved on the ACSP Board or an ACSP Committee?
A:Yes, I served on the Governing Board as the Midwest Regional Representative from 2017-2018.

Q: Have you won any awards?
A: Yes, a few... a Vilas Professorship, a Ford Post-doctoral Fellowship, American Bar Foundation Fellowship, Chancellor’s Community-University Partnership Award, Honorable Mention: Distinguished Extension/Outreach Program Award, of the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, three Pfaehler Award of Excellence in Teachings...

Q: What's your favorite project you’ve worked on?
A: Currently I'm having great fun with my farm-2-hospital work and my farm2facts toolkit, (farm2facts.org). Still, my dissertation research at Chicago's Maxwell Street Market holds a special place for me!

Q: What future goals do you have in your field?
A: Create various data collection platforms and toolkits that support community interests and produce longitudinal data sets. F2F is the first, and I'm developing one for hospitals.

Q: How has planning school changed your daily habits?
A: Not much, if you're going to be an academic, then you have to write 2 pages a day, 50 weeks a year...I read a lot, and both of those are at the root of teaching, research, and service.

Q: What did you want to be when you were growing up?
A: Growing up on a farm - not a farmer! But, no real idea...

Q: How many different cities have you lived in and which was your favorite?
A: Seven - for more than three months at a time - I suppose my favorite of those is Chicago.

Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
A: Goodness, :) I'll travel to most anywhere I'm invited! If this is a fantasy, and not work-related - I'll take Madagascar. Why? The biodiversity.

Q: What is the title of the last book you read?
Overstory. What did you learn from it? Hmmm, mostly it was for entertainment. I like Walter Mosley novels. But academic, am reading Farmer and Gutierrez' In the Company of the Poor, and rereading Scott's book, Organizations, among others...

Q: What’s your favorite color and how would you creatively incorporate it into a planning project?
A: Have you seen the color palette at (farm2facts.org). ? ;)

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