Michelle Thompson-Fawcett

BTP (Alkd), MPlan (Hons) (Alkd), DPhil (Oxon), MNZPI

Associate Professor

Department of Geography, University of Otago, Dunedin


Michelle's undergraduate degree was a double major in Planning and Geography. Once completed, she took up work in planning practice in New Zealand. She spent ten years with various local authorities in Taranaki and Auckland. The work involved research and the preparation of policy relating to such issues as land use strategies, social impact assessment, petrochemical development, iwi resource management, conservation, urban growth management and transportation, as well as project management of multidisciplinary studies.

In the mid 1990s Michelle moved to the UK to undertake doctoral studies in relation to urban landscape transformation. She completed a DPhil at the School of Geography, University of Oxford, in 1998. In March 1999 Michelle joined the staff of the Department of Geography at Otago.

Michelle's main areas of research interest lie in the exploration of contemporary approaches to planning and environmental management, in particular:

  • Innovations towards the sustainable management of urban form (with a focus on Britain, North America, Scandinavia and New Zealand), including developments in sustainable settlements and urban growth management
  • The interface between iwi and planning authority resource management processes and strategies
  • The efforts of local government in urban and regional development and regeneration in Britain, Denmark and New Zealand, and the implications with regard to governance and inclusivity

Fuzzy futuring?, a chapter in Growth Misconduct? Avoiding sprawl and improving intensification in New Zealand (2011): powerpoint presentation and presentation video

More information and contact details


Transformations in identity, governance and planning: The case of the small cityUrban Studies, Feb 2015
Built NarrativesJournal of Urban Design, 19:3, 2014
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'It's not like never-the-twain-shall-meet': Politician-staff relationship structures in local governmentLocal Government Studies, 2014
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Suburban urbanity: Re-envisioning indigenous pathwaysInterface commentary, Planning Theory and Practice 14:3, 406-9, 2013
Tourism in a small town: impacts on community solidarityInternational Journal of Sustainable Society 3 (2): 174-189 (2011)
Fuzzy futuring? Intensification, social sustainability and the Lisbjerg visionIn Witten et al. (eds) (2011) Growth Misconduct? Avoiding sprawl and improving intensification in New Zealand, Steele Roberts Aotearoa, Wellington
Taone Tupu Ora: Indigenous knowledge and sustainable urban designSteele Roberts Aotearoa, Wellington (2010)
The Social Sustainability of Medium Density HousingHousing Studies 23(3):423-442 (2008)
Multiplicities, interwoven threads, holistic approaches: The phronetic long-haulIn Maginn et al. Qualitative urban analysis: An itnternational perspective Studies in qualitative methodology, Elsevier, London (2008)
Inclusive urbanismJournal of Urbanism, 1(1): 15 (2008)
Public participation and new urbanism: A conflicting agenda?Planning Theory and Practice 8(4) 449–472 (2007)