david brain urban studies

David K. Brain


People Page – Name – David K. Brain


Professor of Sociology


New College of Florida


David Brain, Professor of Sociology at New College of Florida, Sarasota FL, studied architecture at the University of Cincinnati before his interest in urban issues led him to a BA in sociology at UC Berkeley and an M.A. and Ph.D. . in sociology from Harvard University. Before joining New College in 1991, he taught at Harvard and Indiana. His research and publications have focused on architecture, urbanism, and the connections between placemaking, community building, and civic engagement. His practical experience includes consulting on planning and urban design projects, facilitating charrettes and visioning workshops, and managing neighborhood-based action research projects that engage students in collaboration with local community groups. He is a frequent contributor to educational programs for citizens and practitioners.

Since 1998, he has helped organize seminars with the Seaside Institute, the Seaside Pienza Institute for Town Building and Land Stewardship, and the Prince’s Foundation for Community Building. In 2005, he was invited to be part of the “social issues team” of the Mississippi Renewal Forum, organized by the Congress for the New Urbanism, to plan for the recovery and rebuilding of the Mississippi Gulf Coast after Katrina. In 2006, he was a Colin Clipson Fellow and Visiting Professor of Architecture at the A.

Alfred Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning at the University of Michigan. As a member of the board and training faculty of the National Charrette Institute, he provided training in charrette practice for architects, designers, public agencies, community leaders and citizens. His varied experience in teaching, sociological research, architecture and urban planning, sustainable development and working with communities enables him to bring an unusual combination of interdisciplinary skills to any planning or development project.



M.A., Ph.D., Harvard University

B.A., University of California at Berkeley

Professor Brain’s research and teaching interests focus on the connections between placemaking, community building and civic engagement, and on sociological issues related to the planning and design of good neighbour hoods, humane cities and sustainable development at the regional scale.

In addition to research and theoretical writing on these topics, his work has led to practical engagement that includes both independent consulting and neighborhood-based action research that engages students in collaboration with local community groups. Locally, he and his students have worked with city and county governments, as well as neighborhood and community groups. He has been internationally recognized as an expert on contemporary efforts to transform the way cities are built, and as a frequent contributor to educational programs for citizens and professionals –

in collaboration with the Florida House Institute for Sustainable Development, the Seaside Institute, the Seaside Pienza Institute for Town Building and Land Stewardship, the Knight Program in Community Building, and the Catanese Center for Urban and Environmental Solutions. He is also a partner in High Cove, a mountain village in western North Carolina designed as an experiment in environmentally responsible development practices. His published research has included work in the sociology of work, professions and work organizations; social theory; and sociology of culture.


Professor Brain teaches urban sociology courses; sociology of space and place in contemporary cities and suburbs; sustainable communities; social theory; sociology of culture (including art, popular culture, material culture, science and technology); and social organizations.


Recent courses


Urban sociology


Selected publications


Brain, D. (2004).  In D. Thadani and P. Hetzel (Eds.), Windsor Forum on Design Education. Miami, FL: New Urban Press.


Brain, D. (2005). From good neighborhoods to sustainable cities: Social science and the social agenda of the new urbanism. International Regional Science Review, 28(2), 217-238.


Brain, D. (2005).  In J. Scott (Ed.), A guide to new urbanism in Florida. Stuart, Florida: Florida Chapter of the Congress for New Urbanism.


Brain, D. (2005). Reforming the urban fringe: More than just a beautiful view. Maritime Institute of Pienza.


Brain, D., & Talen, E. (2005). Rebuilding great places. Gulf Coast Restoration.


Brain, D. (2006). Democracy and Urbanism: The Transect as Civic Renewal. Places, 18(1).


Brain, D. (2006).  In J. Baganha (Ed.), Teaching Architecture and Urbanism in the Age of Globalization. Casal de Cambra, Portugal: European Urban Planning Council and I.N.T.B.A.U.






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