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Kareem M. Usher, PhD

  • Assistant Professor, City and Regional Planning Section
292 Knowlton Hall

Kareem M. Usher is an Assistant Professor in the City and Regional Planning Section of the Austin E. Knowlton School of Architecture.  Dr. Usher received his BA in Sociology from Spalding University in Louisville, Kentucky, a Masters of Urban Planning degree from the University of Louisville also located in Louisville, and a doctoral degree in Urban and Regional Planning from Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida.  His teaching and research interests focus on urban food systems and engages this topic through food access, social justice, regional governance and community economic development.  He currently serves as an Associate Faculty with the Ghana Sustainable Change Program – an interdisciplinary service-learning initiative. Prior to joining OSU, Dr. Usher has served on the Boards of Directors of community housing development organisations, worked with local grassroots food advocacy groups in Kentucky and Florida and, co-organised an interdisciplinary symposium on social justice.

Recent Work

"Valuing all knowledges through an expanded definition of access"

Historical racial injustices as well as more recent public and economic policies have culminated in the displacement of supermarkets from some central city neighborhoods. With this displacement, many low-income and minority neighborhoods not only have been deprived of affordable healthful food, but also have experienced prolonged exposure to energy-dense and highly processed snack foods. Partly as a consequence of this loss of supermarkets, diet-related diseases have become prevalent. Our current policies to improve this health issue address only objective measures of access, with little input from community residents, and they are having limited results. In response, I have reconceptualized access as a construct with five dimensions: acceptability, accessibility, accommodation, affordability, and availability. This new expanded view supports both objective and perceived aspects of access and values the knowledge of residents through community-based participatory research, thereby providing a more complete understanding of access.