Serena Alexander


Serena E. Alexander joined the Department of Urban and Regional Planning at San José State University in 2016. Dr. Alexander’s research focuses on innovative policy and planning approaches to dealing with the urban and regional challenges of our time. Her primary research interests are in the areas of environmental planning, climate action, land-use planning, community economic development, and sustainable urban design. Much of her work is targeted toward practitioners interested in the dynamics of plan implementation, monitoring and evaluation.

Before joining the SJSU faculty, Dr. Alexander conducted community economic development and environmental policy and planning research at the Center for Economic Development and the Great Lakes Environmental Finance Center at Cleveland State University, where she also received her doctorate in Urban Studies, specializing in urban policy and development. She holds master’s degrees in Urban and Regional Planning from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, and Architecture from Azad University of Tehran, with a specialization in urban design. In addition to her academic achievements, Dr. Alexander has more than six years of experience working as a planning and urban design practitioner.

In the classroom, Dr. Alexander creates an active learning environment for students, providing real-world experiences and opportunities to partner with local communities and organizations. Her goal is to prepare students to address the urban and regional challenges of the century ahead. Given that these challenges are both complex and multidimensional, she employs a pedagogy that encourages innovative thinking and facilitates genuine experience.

In her free time, she explores the city for diverse cuisine and engaging in arts and cultural activities.


Selected Publications

Alexander, S.E., Clouse, C., & Austrian, Z. (2016). Thinking outside the higher education box: Expanding upon the community and economic development roles of public urban universities to create a win-win situation. Journal of Economic Development in Higher Education. (Forthcoming)


Austrian, Z., Alexander, S. E., Piazza, M., & Clouse, C. (2015). Mission, vision and capacity of place-based safety net hospitals: Leveraging the power of anchors to strengthen local economies and communities. Journal of Community Practice, 23(3-4), 348-366.


Alexander, S. E. (2014). Campus climate action plan legacies and implementation dynamics. Planning for Higher Education, 42(3), 42-57.