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Russell M. Smith

Position: Professor of Geography/ Faculty Lead, Spatial Justice Studio Department: History, Politics, and Social Justice

Contact Info

Office: 113 Coltrane Hall Phone: 336-750-8822 Fax: 336-750-2647


Dr. Smith is an Associate Professor of Geography at Winston-Salem State University with research interests in urban and political geography. His specific research interests include local government boundary change (e.g. annexation and incorporation) and a variety of urban planning issues including urban sustainability. Dr. Smith is the author of several research publications, contracted reports, and presentations. He has been published in International Journal of Urban Sustainable Development, Urban Geography, Journal of Planning Literature, Southeastern Geographer, State and Local Government Review, and Geographical Review. Dr. Smith has visited a dozen countries in Asia, Europe and North America and more than half of the States of the US.

Prior to obtaining his PhD, Dr. Smith was an AICP urban planner for numerous organizations within the Piedmont Triad region of North Carolina. Dr. Smith’s 10 years of state and local government planning experience complement his research and teaching agenda. His employment history includes working as a city planner for Graham, NC, providing planning assistance to the entire twelve county Piedmont Triad region, and serving as the Assistant Director of Planning for the City of Burlington, NC. He has had the opportunity to work on a variety of urban planning related projects. Specifically, he has developed land use plans, administered zoning and subdivision ordinances, and he has worked with a variety of elected and appointed boards and commissions. These experiences help him provide students with “real world” examples and lessons related to human geography, urban geography, planning, and economic development.

Recently, Dr. Smith has been able to put his academic and applied knowledge to use in the local community through a community engagement project focused on revitalizing a neighborhood near WSSU's campus. Dr. Smith and his Urban Geography students have been actively engaged for the past year in developing a strategic plan for the Waughtown Neighborhood in Winston-Salem. The work is being completed in partnership with the S.G. Atkins CDC, the City of Winston-Salem and the Piedmont Triad Regional Council.

Educational Background

  • Doctor of Philosophy, Geography: Urban and Regional Economic Development and Planning, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Greensboro, N.C.
  • Master of Public Affairs, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Greensboro, N.C.
  • Bachelor of Arts, Political Science and History, 1996, Elon University, Elon, N.C. Cum Laude, Rhodes Scholar Nominee

Research and Project Interests

  • Local Government Boundary Change
  • Urban and Regional Planning; Urban Sustainability
  • Community Based Participatory Research, Community Engagement, Service Learning