Virginia Parks
Professor and Chair
Department of Urban Planning and Public Policy
School of Social Ecology
University of California, Irvine
Office: Social Ecology 1, Suite 300
Phone: 949.824.4384


PhD, Geography, University of California Los Angeles
MA, Urban Planning, University of California Los Angeles

Research Statement

Virginia Parks, PhD, is a geographer and planner, specializing in the study of urban inequality. Her research and teaching interests include labor and employment, urban politics and policy, racial and gender inequality, and community development and organizing. She has published on a range of urban topics including the link between residential and labor market segregation, gendered mobility patterns, the racial wage gap, low-wage work, workplace diversity, labor and immigrant rights, and the politics of urban development. Throughout this work Professor Parks is motivated by how urban space, politics, and regulatory environments influence inequality outcomes. Utilizing a comparative approach, her research leverages geographic variability and spatial analysis in order to identify dimensions of difference and uniform tendencies in the production of urban inequality.

Her current research projects analyze 1) regional and sectoral shifts in energy employment and 2) metropolitan variations in low-wage work. The first, with Mijin Cha at Occidental College, examines regional shifts in energy employment and patterns of inequality that attend the transition to a green economy. This work explores how a framework of “just transition” can guide more equitable outcomes by shoring up job standards through policy, unionization, and job training. The second continues Prof. Parks’s work on the geographic variation in low-wage work, including the online Low-Wage Atlas.

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