Bernadette V. Baird-Zars, Ph.D.

Bernadette Baird-Zars

Assistant Professor
PhD, Urban Planning, Columbia University; MCP, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; B.A. Special Honors Major in Education and Political Science; Swarthmore College
  • Room 484, Civic Square Building
  • (848) 932-2736
  • [at]
Research Interests
  • land use
  • local government
  • implementation and enforcement
  • transition and uncertainty
  • environmental justice
  • institutional analysis
  • action/project-based learning
  • longitudinal data
  • planning ethics and theory

Bernadette Baird-Zars, Ph.D., joined the Bloustein School in January 2023. Prior to Rutgers, she was a post-doctoral scholar in inclusive urbanism and governance focused on flooding adaptation and post-disaster recovery at Columbia University. Her work examines implementation in land use planning, in particular under transition and uncertainty. Using institutional analyses and quantitative data, her recent research identifies patterns of action and practice of municipal permitting and review in spaces of socio-ecological precarity in peri-urban areas of Mexico. She co-edited and authored chapters of “Zoning: a Guide for 21st Century Planning” (Routledge 2020), as well as articles on zoning relief and local governance in the Arab world in the Journal of Planning Education and Research and Middle East Law and Governance. Prior to academia, Dr. Baird-Zars worked for over a decade with development banks, non-profits and public entities on affordable housing and planning initiatives across Latin America, the Middle East and the United States, and as local staff for several years in Aleppo, Syria. She holds a Ph.D. in Urban Planning from Columbia University, a Master of City Planning from MIT, and an honors BA from Swarthmore College. 

Complete Curriculum Vitae (C.V.)

  • Introduction to Urban Studies
  • Methods of Planning Analysis

Selected Publications
  • Baird-Zars, B. “Zoning as a verb: a Scaffolding for land use practice” in Sclar, E. Baird-Zars, B., Stahl, V. Fischer, L. Zoning: A Guide for 21st-Century Planning. New York: Routledge, 2020.
  • Salman, L. and Baird-Zars, B (equal first authorship). “From the fragments up: Municipal margins of maneuver in Syria and Tunisia. Middle East Law and Governance 11 (2019): 244-282
  • Singerman Ray, R., Baird-Zars, B and Sclar, E, (equal first authorship) “Moving forward: Methods for studying, developing and advancing zoning” in Baird-Zars, B. Sclar, E. Stahl, V. Fischer, L. Zoning: A Guide for 21st-Century Planning. New York: Routledge, 2020.
  • Sclar, E. Baird-Zars, B., Stahl, V. Fischer, L. (equal first authorship) “Zoning matters: Institutions and Action for the 21st century” in Sclar, E. Baird-Zars, B., Stahl, V. Fischer, L. Zoning: A Guide for 21st- Century Planning. New York: Routledge, 2020.
  • Fischler, L., Stahl, V, Baird-Zars, B. 2019 “An unequal geography of exceptions: Zoning variances and special permits in NYC, 1998-2015”. Journal of Planning Education and Research.
  • Wang, H., Baird-Zars, B. 2012. “Connectivity and Competitiveness across the Colombian Urban System,” in Colombia Urbanization Review, Amplifying the Gains from the Urban Transition. Eds. T. Samad, N. Lozano Gracia, A. Panman. Directions in Development Series. World Bank

Areas of Expertise: climate impacts and resilience, community-based research, governance, housing, housing finance, international development, land use, planning theory, political institutions, zoning