Patricia A. Wilson

Professor Emerita

After undergraduate studies at Stanford in the late ‘60s, Patricia Wilson pursued graduate studies in planning at Cornell (MRP 1971, Ph.D. 1975), including a paradigm-changing year of dissertation research in Chile and Peru on regional political economy.  After teaching at Cornell for a year, she worked in economic development planning with the City of San Francisco followed by the Economic Development Administration in Washington DC, where her first child was born.

Dr. Wilson joined the UTSOA planning faculty in 1979, teaching economic development planning and expanding the new Dual Degree Program in Planning and Latin American Studies.  During the ‘80s and ‘90s she conducted research on urban sub-employment in the US, maquiladoras in Mexico, and Latino neighborhood issues in Austin, while doing international development consulting and a Fulbright research year in Lima.  She became the first female and North American to serve as president of the Sociedad Interamericana de Planificación, the professional society of Latin American planners. 

After 2000, her research, influenced by the relational awareness of systems thinking, turned to participatory practices and community-based change processes with cases across the Global South. Courses included action research, participatory methods, deep democracy, and most recently, the Art of Community Engagement. She also led a seven-year practicum in community engagement in urban and peri-urban Mexico.  

Dr. Wilson is the author or co-author of seven books and numerous journal articles. Her latest book, The Heart of Community Engagement:  Practitioner Stories from Across the Globe (Routledge, 2019) won the 2020 Hamilton Book Award for best textbook. Dr. Wilson currently serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Awareness-Based Systems Change and is an adviser to the World Health Organization on whole person/whole systems community engagement protocols.

Patricia is married, has two daughters, one in San Francisco (director of community engagement), one in Washington DC (deputy administrator for resilience), and four grandsons—all bilingual.


  • B.A., Stanford, 1969 (Honors in Economics)
  • Master's in Regional Planning (MRP), Cornell, 1971
  • Ph.D., City and Regional Planning, Cornell, 1975



The Heart of Community Engagement:  Practitioner Stories from Across the Globe.  New York and London:  Routledge Taylor & Francis (2019).

Development from Within:  Facilitating Collective Reflection for Sustainable Change (co-authored with V. Vidyarthi)  Herndon, VA: Apex (2008).

Local Economic Development in Europe and the Americas. (co-edited with C. Demaziere) London:  Mansell (1995).

Exports and Local Development: Mexico's New Maquiladoras. Austin: University of Texas Press (1992).

Regional Analysis and the New International Division of Labor. (co-edited with F. Moulaert) Boston: Kluwer-Nijhoff/Springer (1982).  Foreword by John Friedmann.


“Sensing the Social Field through Action Research:  What’s Important, What’s Valid,” Journal of Awareness Based Systems Change, 1:1, 119-124, 2021

“First Person Action Research in Complex Social Systems:  Three Stories of Praxis” (with E. Walsh and A. Bush), International Journal of Action Research, 14:22, 5-29, 2018.

“Deliberative Democracy in Disaster Recovery:  Re-membering New Orleans,” Journal of Public Deliberation (JPD) 4:1, 2009.

"Building Social Capital:  A Learning Agenda for the 21st Century," Urban Studies, 34:4-5, 745-760, 1997.

"Empowerment:  Community Economic Development from the Inside Out," Urban Studies, 33:4-5, 617-630, 1996.

(with Dennis Rondinelli ), "Linking Decentralization and Regional Development Planning: The IRD Project in Peru . " Journal of the American Planning Association, 53: 3, 1987, pp. 348-357.

Salinas, Patricia W. “Subemployment and the Urban Underclass: A Policy Research Report.” NTIS #PB81-1322. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Commerce, 1980.

Salinas, Patricia W., “Le developpement regional et les limites d’une reforme: l’experience au Perou du gouvernement militaire.” Revue Tiers-Monde 18: 723–736, 1977.

Salinas, Patricia Wilson, “Influencias institucionales en el desequilibrio espacial del Perú: la regionalización de las inversiones públicas.”  Serie Documento de Trabajo, No. 21. Lima: CISEPA, Universidad Católica, 1974.  


(with Kathryn Goldman Schuyler and Lemuel W. Watson) “A World with Space for All to Be:  Generative Mindfulness, Awareness Based Action Research, and Inclusion,” in A. Montuori and G. Donnelly, Eds., The Routledge International Handbook for Creative Futures.  Routledge Taylor and Francis, 2023 (forthcoming).

“Otto Scharmer and the Field of the Future:  Integrating Science, Spirituality and Profound Social Change,” in D. Szabla, W. Pasmore, M. Barnes, and A. Gipson, Eds., The Palgrave Handbook of Organizational Change Thinkers:  Cham, Switzerland:  Palgrave Macmillan (Springer), pp. 1129-1146 (2017), expanded and updated for Second Edition, 2020.

“The Inner Practice of Community Development:  Embracing Deep Democracy in Mexico,” in Kathryn Goldman Schuyler, Ed., Leadership for a Healthy Planet:  Creative Social Change. Bingley, England:  Emerald, pp. 211-229 (2016)

“Humane City,” in Roger W. Caves, Ed., Encyclopedia of the City. NY: Routledge, pp 247-8 (2013 second edition, 2005 first edition)

“Dialogue and Planning:  From Deliberation to Transformation,” Proceedings of the World Planning Schools Congress, Shanghai (Track 2b.3, No. 2082) On-line publication:,  (2002)

(with F. Moulaert and E. Swyngedouw), “Spatial Responses to Fordist and Post-Fordist Accumulation and Regulation,” in Robert Jessop, Ed., Regulation Theory and the Crisis of Capitalism.  Cheltanham, England: Edward Elgar (2001).

“Maquiladoras and NAFTA:  The Great Divide,” in Oscar Contreras, Ed., La Globalización y el Futuro de las Maquiladoras en Mexico.  Hermosillo:  University of Sonora Press (2000).

(with Thea Kayne) “Local Economic Development and Transnational Restructuring:  The Case of Export-Assembly Manufacturing in Yucatan,” in R. Tardanico and M. Rosenberg, Eds., Poverty or Development?  Global Restructuring and Regional Transformations in the U.S. South and the Mexican South.   NY:  Routledge (1999).

"Le developpement economique communautaire aux Etats-Unis et en Amerique Latine," in C. Demaziere, ed. Du Local au Global:  Les Initiatives Locales pour le Developpement Economique en Europe et en Amerique.  Paris: L'Harmattan, pp. 211-230 (1996).

"De nouvelles pistes pour le developpement economique local," in C. Demaziere, ed. Du Local au Global:  Les Initiatives Locales pour le Developpement Economique en Europe et en Amerique.  Paris: L'Harmattan, pp. 363-374 (1996).

(with F. Moulaert) "Urban Restructuring and Local Response," in F. Moulaert and A. Scott, eds, Cities, Enterprises and Society at the Eve of the XXIst Century, London:  Mansell (1996).

"Maquiladoras," The New Handbook of Texas, Vol. 4 .  Austin: Texas State Historical Association, pp. 497-498 (1996).

"Community-Based Economic Development in the U.S. and Latin America," in Demaziere and  Wilson, eds., Local Economic Development in Europe and the Americas.  London:  Mansell, pp. 203-212 (1995).

"Future Directions in Local Economic Development," in  Demaziere & Wilson, op cit., pp. 311-320.

"Maquiladoras and Local Linkages:  Building Transaction Networks in Guadalajara," in Sergio Diaz-Briquets and Sidney Weintraub, eds., Regional and Sectoral Development in Mexico as Alternatives to Migration.  Boulder:  Westview Press, 1991, pp.169-206.

"Nueva Tecnología, Vínculos Locales y Políticas Públicas en la Industria de Reexportación, " in F. Albuquerque Llorens, C. de Mattos, and R. Jordan Fuchs, eds., Revolución Tecnológica y Reestructuración Productiva: Impactos y Desafíos Territoriales. Buenos Aires: Grupo Editorial Latinoamericano, Colección Estudios Políticos y Sociales, 1990, pp. 137-164.

"The New Maquiladoras: Flexible Manufacturing and Local Linkages, " in Khosrow Fatemi, ed., The Maquiladora Industry:  Economic Problem or Solution? New York: Praeger, 1990, pp. 135-158.

"A Comparative Evaluation of Regionalization and Decentralization in Nicaragua," in Michael Conroy, ed., Nicaragua: Profiles of the Revolutionary Public Sector. Boulder: Westview Press, 1987, pp. 41-58.

"Lima and the New International Division of Labor," in Michael Peter Smith and Joe Feagin, eds., The Capitalist City.  Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1987, pp. 199-212.

"Urban Growth, Subemployment, and Mobility," Edward M. Bergman (ed.), Local Economies in Transition. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1986, pp. 248-270.

"Región, Estado, y Inversión Pública, 1968-1983." In Centralismo y la Cuestión Regional, C. Delgado (Ed.). Lima: CEDESA, 1984.

"Mode of Production and Spatial Organization in Peru."  In F. Moulaert and P. Wilson, eds., Regional Analysis and the New International Division of Labor. Boston: Kluwer-Nijhoff, 1982, pp. 79-96.

(with F. Moulaert). "Regional Political Economy: An Introduction and Overview." In F. Moulaert and P. Wilson, eds., Regional Analysis and the New International Division of Labor. Boston: Kluwer-Nijhoff, 1982,  pp. 1-12.


(with Varun Vidyarthi) Development from Within:  Facilitating Group Consciousness for Sustainable Change, Manavodaya Institute of Participatory Development, Lucknow, U.P., India, 191 pp., 2004.

NAFTA and the Electronics Industry in Mexico.  Washington, DC:  U.S. Congressional Office of Technology Assessment, Report No. H3-7200.0, 1992, 80 pp.

"Maquiladoras and Local Linkages: Building Transaction Networks in Guadalajara," in Diego C. Ascencio, et al ., eds., Unauthorized Migration: Addressing the Root Causes, Vol. II, Ch. 42, pp. 1183-1221.  Washington, D.C.:  U.S. Government Printing Office (1990 0-270-631:QL3), 1990, pp. 135-158.

The New Maquiladoras: Export-Led Development and Local Linkages. U.S. Commission on International Migration and Cooperative Economic Development, Washington, D.C., 1990, 100 pp.

Subemployment and the Urban Underclass. U. S. Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration, Washington, D.C., 1981, 105 pp. (Distributed by the National Technical Information Service as Publication No. PB81 13 2219.)

A Paradigmatic View of Development Strategies. Bulletin No. 89, Cornell Rural Sociology Bulletin Series, 1977, 34 pp.

From Mode of Production to Spatial Formation: The Regional Consequences of Dependent Industrialization in Peru. Cornell Dissertation Series in Planning, Cornell University, 1975, 335 pp.

The Determination of Potential Growth Centers in Non-Metropolitan Regions: A Study of Center-Periphery Linkages. Unpublished Master's thesis in Regional Planning, Cornell University, 1971, 70 pp.


Contributing author, iCCM Community Engagement Working Group Report. World Health Organization, August, 2019. 

Ten Years of Neighborhood Planning in Austin, 1996-2006.  Report prepared as part of a class project for the Austin Neighborhood Planning Convening Committee,  2006.

Interim Evaluation of the USAID/El Salvador Municipal Development and Citizen Participation Project.  Cambridge Consulting Corporation, 119 pp., 1996

(with Pedro Pablo Morcillo) Análisis Institucional del Plan General para el Area del CanalNathan Associates (IDB/Intercarib), Panama City, 30 pp., 1996.

An Evaluation of the Texas Enterprise Zone Program, Graduate Program in Community and Regional Planning, University of Texas, 85 pp., 1994

 Evaluation of the USAID Social Stabilization and Municipal Development Strengthening Project (MEA) in El Salvador.  Checchi & Assoc., 57 pp., 1994.

Growth Potential of Secondary Cities in Central America.  PADCO, 30 pp., 1991

Municipal Development in Bolivia:  A National Perspective.  PADCO,  30 pp., 1991.

Small Scale Urban Infrastructure Initiatives for Municipal Strengthening in Chile. PADCO, 20 pp., 1991.

(and Lee Baker). Chile:  Issues and Opportunities in the Shelter and Urban Sector. Washington, DC:  USAID, PN-ABH-400, 126 pp., 1991.

Decentralization and Municipal Development in Chile:  Options for USAID.  Nathan Associates, 25 pp., 1990.

Impact of the FINCA Banks on Micro-enterprise Development in Mexico City. Prepared for the Foundation for International Community Assistance, Arlington, Virginia, 1990.

Evaluation of the Capital Improvements Business Loan Program. Class report prepared for the Department of Housing and Community Services, City of Austin, 1985, 77 pp. (Winner of AICP/APA Student Project Award, 1986)

(with Dennis Rondinelli), Regional Planning in the Integrated Regional Development Project. IRD Final Evaluation Report, U.S. Agency for International Development, Lima, Peru, 1985, 38 pp.

Decentralization Policy Agenda. Report No. SDA-13-85, U.S. Agency for International Development, Lima, Peru, 1985, 21 pp.

Strategy and Plan for a Two-Year Technical Assistance and Training Program for Regional Development Planning and Implementation. Report No. 527-0169, U. S. Agency for International Development, Lima, Peru, 1983, 40 pp.

Regionalization, Public Policy and Political/Administrative Decentralization in Peru. Report No. FN-14-83, U. S. Agency for International Development, Lima, Peru, 1983, 48 pp.

A Survey of Economic Development Structures: Options for Austin. Class report prepared for the City of Austin, Department of Financial Services, 1984, 50 pp.

Options for an Industrial Development Policy for Austin: Towards a Selective Growth Strategy. Class report prepared for the City of Austin, Department of City Planning, 1981, 46 pp.

The Impact of the Presidio Military Base on the San Francisco Economy. Report prepared for the Department of City Planning, City of San Francisco, 1978, 20 pp.

(with R. Okamoto et al.). Sixteenth Street Commercial Revitalization Plan. Department of City Planning, City of San Francisco, 1978, 28 pp.

(with R. Okamoto et al.). Commerce and Industry Element of the Comprehensive Plan of San Francisco. Department of City Planning, City of San Francisco, 1977, 115 pp.

Potential Costs and Benefits of a Deep Water Dry Bulk Coal Port. Report prepared for the Department of City Planning, City of San Francisco, 1976, 25 pp.

Influencias Institucionales en el Desequilibrio Espacial del Perú:  La Regionalización de las Inversiones Públicas. Serie de Documentos de Trabajo No. 21 CISEPA, Universidad Católica del Perú, Departamento de Economía, Lima, Peru, 1974, 34 pp.

Análisis de la Regionalización de las Inversiones Públicas, 1971-1974. Report No. APR-73, Instituto Nacional de Planificación, Lima, Peru, 1973, 25 pp.

Los Efectos Regionales de la Inversión en la Gran Minería: El Caso de Cuajone. Instituto Nacional de Planificación (ORDESUR), Arequipa, Peru, 1972, 32 pp.

Financial Costs and Benefits of a Prototype New Community. Interim Technical Report, Tri-State Regional Planning Commission, New York City, 1970, 28 pp.


“Communicative Action in Practice,” ACSP Update (national newsletter of Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning), No. 122, May/June 2001, 8-9. 

"Towards a New Age of Planning in Latin America," Interplan  (Quarterly Publication of the American Planning Association International Division) 51:2, 1-2 (1995).

Patricia Wilson
  • Social Equity and Climate Resilience
  • Community Engagement Practice
  • Awareness-based Systems Change

Art of Community Engagement 

Qualitative and Participatory Methods

Paticipatory Democracy

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Meg Merritt


Michael Holleran

Associate Professor