Stefan Norgaard


My research engages the interfaces between hegemonic and clandestine spatial-planning practice, and particularly how historically unequal and traumatic urbanization processes affect contemporary equitable development goals and outcomes. I am a PhD student in Urban Planning at Columbia University (Degree Expected: 2024). My interests include urban and planning theory, local-government and planning law, and mixed-methods research focused on planning practice and urban governance in post-apartheid South Africa, the United States, and Mexico.

In my free time I enjoy hiking, backpacking, and traveling to new and unfamiliar places.


I hold a Master's in Public Policy degree from the Harvard Kennedy School, where I served as Managing Editor for the Kennedy School Review (KSR), Teaching Fellow for Professors Roberto Unger and Cornel West at Harvard Law School, and Course Assistant for Quinton Mayne's "Urban Politics" class. While at HKS, I worked on developing negotiation analytic teaching cases with the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative (BHCLI) in 2019, and in 2018 supported the OECD's Champion Mayors Team, developing program strategy, research, execution, and implementation in Paris, France. 


In 2015 I graduated from Stanford University (Major: Public Policy and Urban Studies). My honor’s thesis centered on South Africa’s youth population and its potential to change social and political structures. This thesis built on study-abroad experience with Stanford in Cape Town and my work with the U.S. Department of State’s South Africa desk. I served as Chair of Stanford in Government (SIG) to explore the roles of government and public service in envisioning and operationalizing social justice.

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Prior to my PhD at Columbia, I worked as a Negotiation Research Fellow with the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative. Previously, from 2016 to 2017, I served as an NYC Urban Fellow with the New York City Department of Transportation, working on public space planning and design with the DOT Urban Design, Art, and Wayfinding teams. From 2015 to 2016, I worked on the Ford Foundation's Equitable Development team, focusing on housing insecurity, access to opportunity, and equitable urban infrastructure and decision-making in both domestic and global contexts.