Lisa Brawley joined Vassar's Urban Studies Program in 2000, having earned her PhD as a Whiting Fellow from the University of Chicago. She currently serves as Tatlock Chair of Multidisciplinary Studies. She directed the American Studies program from 2010-20116.
Her scholarship and teaching engage the processes of capitalist urbanization in the long 20th century in the U.S., exploring the shifting relations between urban design, state spatiality, and structures of citizenship. She is author, with Elsa Devienne, of a (bilingual) book on Frederick Law Olmsted and agricultural modernity, D'après Nature: Frederick Law Olmsted et le Park Movement Américain (Paris: L'Edition Fahrenheit, 2014). She has also written on urban food systems and food sovereignty; boomtown suburbanization on Guantanamo Bay; spatial justice and neoliberal urbanization; the visual registers of everyday urbanism; and the role of photography and cinema in the 1969 Plan of New York City.
Her courses include: Introduction to Urban Studies: the Right to the City; Introduction to American Studies: Empire/City; at the intermediate level: Urban Theory, Gender and Social Space, Visual Urbanism, and Media Theory; senior seminars include: the City in Fragments and Critical+Social Design. In 2013, she served as resident director of the Vassar London Program, where she taught the field-based course, Tactical Urbanism: London.
She also maintains a social practice as a designer of collaborative processes. Together with Susan Grove, she designed and facilitated a citywide action planning forum to launch Poughkeepsie Plenty, a local coalition for food equality. In 2016, she worked with the principle organizers of a global human rights network, ESCR-net, to design and implement a week-long global strategy meeting, engaging 160 human rights activists and advocates, representing 140 organizations from 40 countries, working in four languages (Spanish, French, English and Arabic). In 2016, she was awarded a faculty conversation grant to develop and convene a Facilitation+Design Practice Lab at Vassar.