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Kareem M. Usher, PhD

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

Dr. Kareem Usher is an assistant professor of city and regional planning in the Knowlton School. Dr. Usher received his Bachelor of Arts degree 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 research interests focus on urban food systems and he engages this topic at the intersection of food access, social justice, regional governance and community economic development. Dr. Usher’s work involves utilizing mixed-methods and community-based participatory research methodologies to explore perceived as well as objective measures of access to healthy food of food-insecure families in low-access (‘food gap’) communities.

These interests are currently being expressed through his work in communities regionally and internationally. Dr. Usher is currently leading a project in the (South) Linden neighborhood of Columbus, Ohio that aims to develop a ‘food processing hub’ that would provide employment for previously incarcerated persons while supporting Ohio State University’s efforts to increase the amount of local and sustainable food served to its students. He is also collaborating on a ‘food aggregator’ initiative in Mansfield, Ohio, and a project in the Toledo District of Belize where Dr. Usher and collaborators explore the drivers of food insecurity and agroecological change in the Maya milpas of southern Belize.

Affiliated Faculty Positions

Initiative for Food and AgriCultural Transformation (InFACT) – Discovery Theme
Environmental Sciences Graduate Program
Center for Latin American Studies
Food Innovation Center
Ohio Religion and Sustainability Speakers Bureau
Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity


CRPLAN 2110: Creating Innovative Cities and Regions 
CRPLAN 5798: Planning Study Abroad
CRPLAN 6350: The Socially Just City 
CRPLAN 6970: International Development Studio

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.