Joel Mendez

Dr. Joel Mendez
  • Assistant Professor

Contact Info

Snow Hall, Room 205


Joel Mendez is an Assistant Professor in the University of Kansas’ Urban Planning Program. His teaching and research interests lie in the intersection between transportation, economic development, and social justice. Dr. Mendez’ professional experience has positioned him in planning roles within county governments, state research centers, and the federal government. He strives to bring these experiences to the classroom in an effort to better prepare the next generation of leaders in the planning and policy field.


Community and Regional Planning, Iowa State University, 2010
Texas A&M University, 2014
Urban and Regional Planning, Florida State University, 2018


My research efforts focus on how cities can best address the needs of low-income, minority communities via investment in transportation alternatives. I have personally witnessed how limited mobility can greatly impact members of these communities. From employment participation to access to healthy food options, mobility influences many aspects of one’s life. My research works to assure that the needs of the marginalized are heard, acknowledged, and addressed via the production of research which aids in the creation of equitable planning and policy decisions.

Within my research efforts I also explore how the physical and economic landscape changes post infrastructure investment. Particular attention in placed on the economic development impact of transportation infrastructure and on how opportunities for low-income populations are impacted as a result. I strive to develop and promote sustainable strategies which cities can implement in an effort to accomplish their economic development goals while also protecting their most vulnerable populations.

Research interests:

  • Equity
  • Social Justice
  • Spatial Mismatch
  • Streetcars
  • Transit funding
  • Transit Oriented Development
  • Economic Development


Within the classroom, I strive to create an environment where students are not afraid to participate and make mistakes. I believe that everyone has something to contribute, given that much of the content covered within urban planning courses is something which we may have likely experienced within our own communities. The inclusion of varying experiences and perspectives can greatly enhance learning outcomes for all as it allows students to consider how course material applies across varying environments. I strive to create an environment where inclusivity and participation are supported via the employment of small-group and problem learning approaches.

Teaching interests:

  • Equity
  • Social Justice
  • Urban Economics
  • Funding and Finance
  • Transportation Oriented Development
  • Transportation Planning and Policy