Ph.D. in Community and Regional Planning
Andrea "Christina" Wirsching is trained as both a planning practitioner and interdiscplinary social scientist, specializing in social and environmental justice in planning. She just received her Doctorate in Community and Regional Planning Program at The University of Texas at Austin in May (2020), and was one of only two planning doctoral students in the National Science Foundation IGERT Trainee in Energy Grids and Sustainable Energy (2014-16). She earned a Graduate Portfolio in Mexican American Studies. She recently completed a year-long appointment as Visiting Instructor for 2019-20 in Urban Studies at Trinity University in San Antonio, TX, where she taught The Urban Experience, Research Methods: GIS, Latinx Urban Planning and Justice and the City.
Originally from Laredo, Texas, Dr. Wirsching’s research examines the multilayered contexts in and of planning to critically inform community planning and scholarship. She also holds a Master of Science in Community and Regional Planning degree as well as a BA in Geography from UT Austin, where she established a strong foundation in environmental resource management and secondary science education. Her master’s degree research focused on historiographies in planning. Her thesis examined the controversy within the historical context of the Holly Street Power Plant and surrounding Mexican American neighborhood, connecting to her deep familial ties in this East Austin, Texas, neighborhood. Dr. Wirsching's passion for giving back to her community continues to be evident in her current interdisciplinary academic pursuits. Her dissertation research incorporates traditional impact assessments and spatial analyses of communities effected by the oil and gas industry with histories of governance and land development, with the goal of painting a more nuanced picture of what this looks like on the ground and how we got there. She conducted her study along the Texas-Mexico border in Webb County, Texas, where Laredo is the county seat.
Dr. Wirsching is interested in teaching from the intersections of critical pedagogical studies, planning, and social science scholarship, incorporating topics in urban planning and governance, Latinx border studies, energy and the environment, and research methods. She aims to create an empowering academic and experiential student learning environment that recognizes and celebrates students’ personal and geographic backgrounds while equipping students with knowledge and tools to ultimately give back to their own communities.
Dr. Wirsching has served as a member of the UT Austin School of Architecture Diversity Task Force, part of the leadership teams of student organizations focused on diversity and inclusion, and, in her professional pre-graduate school life, worked in undergraduate admissions and academic student affairs, and graduate recruitment for historically underrepresented student populations at UT Austin. Christina also worked as a planner and/or researcher for the City of Austin, State of Texas, Texas Low Income Housing Information Service (Texas Housers), and the Center for Sustainable Development at UT Austin. She currently teaches community development and justice oriented planning courses at The University of Texas San Antonio, and is a community development policy and compliance manager.