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Kent E. Portney

Kent E. Portney is Professor of Political Science at Tufts University. He is the author, coauthor, or coeditor of a number of books, including The Rebirth of Urban Democracy and Acting Civically: From Local Neighborhoods to Higher Education.

Titles by This Author

Economic Development, the Environment, and Quality of Life in American Cities

Today most major cities have undertaken some form of sustainability initiative. Yet there have been few systematic comparisons across cities, or theoretically grounded considerations of what works and what does not, and why. In Taking Sustainable Cities Seriously, Kent Portney addresses this gap, offering a comprehensive overview and analysis of sustainability programs and policies in American cities. After discussing the conceptual underpinnings of sustainability, he examines the local aspects of sustainability; considers the measurement of sustainability and offers an index of “serious” sustainability for the fifty-five largest cities in the country; examines the relationship between sustainability and economic growth; and discusses issues of governance, equity, and implementation. He also offers extensive case studies, with separate chapters on large, medium-size, and small cities, and provides an empirically grounded analysis of why some large cities are more ambitious than others in their sustainability efforts.

This second edition has been updated throughout, with new material that draws on the latest research. It also offers numerous additional case studies, a new chapter on management and implementation issues, and a greatly expanded comparative analysis of big-city sustainability initiatives.

Portney shows how cities use the broad rubric of sustainability to achieve particular political ends, and he dispels the notion that only cities that are politically liberal are interested in sustainability. Taking Sustainable Cities Seriously draws a roadmap for effective sustainability initiatives.

Economic Development, the Environment, and Quality of Life in American Cities

Today at least twenty-five major U.S. cities have pursued some form of sustainability initiative. Although many case studies and "how-to" manuals have been published, there has been little systematic comparison of these cities' programs and initiatives. In this book Kent Portney lays the theoretical groundwork for research on what works and what does not, and why.

Distinguishing cities on the basis of population characteristics and region for his analysis, Portney shows how cities use the broad rubric of sustainability to achieve particular political ends. Cities that take sustainability seriously, such as Portland, San Francisco, and Seattle, use broad definitions that go well beyond concern for the physical environment or creating jobs. They pursue sustainability at many levels and integrate concern for economic development, the environment, and quality of life across all activities of city government. Cities that take sustainability less seriously, such as Cleveland, Boston, and Orlando, confine it to such issues as solid waste disposal, brownfields, redevelopment, and neighborhood beautification. Still other cities, such as New Haven, Brownsville, and Milwaukee, do considerably less to work toward sustainability.

Portney begins by reviewing the conceptual underpinnings of sustainable development and sustainable communities. The comparisons that follow provide a foundation for assessing the range of what is possible and desirable for sustainability initiatives. In the book's conclusion, Portney assesses the extent to which cities can use the pursuit of sustainability either to foster change in public values or merely to reinforce values that are already reflected in systems of governance.