Janni Sorensen, who established the Charlotte Action Research Project at UNC Charlotte, and UNC Charlotte doctoral alumna Melissa Anne Currie ’15 were recognized for outstanding scholarship and service in the field of urban affairs as recipients of the 2020 Best Article in the Journal of Urban Affairs Award.
The winning paper, “Repackaged ‘Urban Renewal’: Issues of Spatial Equity and Environmental Justice in New Construction, Suburban Neighborhoods and Urban Islands of Infill,” is based on a spatial equity and environmental justice case study in Charlotte, North Carolina, and explores exclusionary/discriminatory land use practices, as well as the unintended consequences of well-intentioned, but short-sighted approaches to affordable housing development.
The Urban Affairs Association (UAA) sponsors the refereed Journal of Urban Affairs, which publishes manuscripts related to urban research and policy analysis of interest to both scholars and practitioners. UAA is the international professional organization for urban scholars, researchers and public/nonprofit service providers.
Currie is an assistant professor of landscape architecture at Mississippi State University. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in landscape architecture from Cornell University and a Ph.D. in geography and urban regional analysis from UNC Charlotte. Her work has recently been published in the Journal of Urban Design, Community Development Journal, Housing and Society and Action Research. Before transitioning into a career in academics, Currie worked in the private sector building expertise in site design, master planning, low impact development and New Urbanism design. She is a licensed landscape architect in the states of Virginia and Alabama.
Sorensen holds a Ph.D. in urban and regional planning from the University of Illinois–Champaign Urbana. Her research agenda is focused on neighborhood scale participatory urban planning and community organizing. Sorensen’s work has led to many journal articles and several grants from local government and foundations that have supported her ongoing work in Charlotte neighborhoods. In 2017, she received the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) “Excellence and Innovation Award for the Civic Learning and Community Engagement Award.” In 2018, she received the UNC Charlotte Bonnie E. Cone Distinguished Professorship in Community Engagement. She resigned from her position as associate professor at UNC Charlotte in January 2020 for family reasons and returned to her native Denmark.