Susan Hanson

Clark University

Primary Section: 64, Human Environmental Sciences
Secondary Section: 53, Social and Political Sciences
Membership Type:
Member (elected 2000)


Susan Hanson is a professor of geography (emerita) at Clark University.  An urban geographer, her interests center on gender and economy, transportation, local labor markets, and sustainability. Her research has examined the relationship between the urban built environment and people's everyday mobility within cities; within this context, questions of access to opportunity, and how gender affects access, have been paramount.  Her most recent project focuses on understanding how gender, geographic opportunity structures, and geographic rootedness shape entrepreneurship in cities. Her publications include Ten Geographic Ideas that Changed the World (Rutgers University Press), Gender, Work, and Space (with Geraldine Pratt) (Routledge), The Geography of Urban Transportation (Guilford Press), and numerous journal articles and book chapters.  Hanson has been the editor of several academic journals including The Annals of the Association of American Geographers, Urban Geography, and Economic Geography.  She has led the School of Geography at Clark and is a past president of the Association of American Geographers (AAG), a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a former Guggenheim Fellow, a former fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Social and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford, and a recipient of the Honors Award and of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the AAG and of the Van Cleef Medal from the American Geographic Society.  In 2000 she was elected to the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.  She has served on many national and international committees in geography, transportation, and the social sciences.  She is currently Division Chair of the Transportation Research Board (one of the six divisions of the National Research Council (NRC) of the National Academies) and a member of the Advisory Boards of the NRC's Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education and of the National Academies' Koshland Museum of Science.  Her B.A. is from Middlebury College, and before earning the M.S. and PhD at Northwestern University, she was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Kenya.

Research Interests

As a geographer I have concentrated on the relationship between people and the urban built environment in two detailed studies. The first, on people's everyday travel-activity patterns, examined the way that different groups make use of the city and showed how urban spatial structure configures household travel. This study reconceptualized travel as being rooted in spatially and temporally complex activity patterns. The second, on gender and urban labor markets, focused on occupational segregation, geographic opportunity structures, and connections between work and home. This study identified the spatial processes by which individuals, households, and firms--through their daily rounds of interactions--create and maintain labor market inequalities. It also developed the concept of geographic rootedness and demonstrated its importance by documenting how conditions of fixed location shape human capital formation and the emergence of segmented labor markets. My current work is proceeding along two lines: One seeks to understand how gender, geographic opportunity structures, and geographic rootedness affect entrepreneurship in cities. The other seeks to understand the emergence of sustainable versus unsustainable practices in urban areas.

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