J. Phillip Thompson

J. Phillip Thompson

Associate Professor, Political Science, Columbia University

Visiting Associate Professor 2000-2002

Hosted by the Department of Urban Studies and Planning (DUSP)

J. Phillip Thompson is an urban planner and political scientist. His research interests are urban planning, public policy, housing, community and economic development.


J. Phillip Thompson is an urban planner and political scientist. His research interests are urban planning, public policy, housing, community and economic development.

He received a B.A. in Sociology from Harvard University in 1977, a M.U.P. from Hunter College in 1986, and a PhD. in Political Science from the City University of New York Graduate Center in 1990.

Prof. Thompson worked as Deputy General Manager of the New York Housing Authority, and as Director of the Mayor’s Office of Housing Coordination. He is a frequent advisor to trade unions in their efforts to work with immigrant and community groups across the United States.

His most recent academic work includes a 2004 review of public health interventions in poor black communities (written with Arline Geronimus) published in the Du Bois Review, entitled “To Denigrate, Ignore, or Disrupt: The Health Impact of Policy-induced Breakdown of Urban African American Communities of Support,” an article entitled “Judging Mayors” in the June 2005 issue of Perspectives on Politics, and a recent book called Double Trouble: Black Mayors, Black Communities and the Struggle for Deep Democracy (Oxford University Press, 2005).

Prof. Thompson has taught at Columbia, Barnard, Yale University and CUNY, and is a senior policy advisor to PolicyLink, a think tank that links research and policy development with a network of 150 community organizations.

At MIT, Prof. Thompson was hosted by the Department of Urban Planning (DUSP). He stayed on at the Institute, joining the faculty DUSP in 2002 as associate professor of urban politics and community development.

Prof. Thompson's important intellectual contributions on the themes of social capital, health and racial ideology was recognized with a 2004 MLK Leadership Award.

Prof. Lawrence Vale, head of DUSP, and Carolyn Makinson, executive director of the Center for International Studies, wrote in their nomination letter: "He addressed the issues of race, class and power in ways that have energized and galvanized the diverse student body in DUSP."



Double Trouble: Black Mayors, Black Communities, and the Call for a Deep Democracy

J. Phillip Thompson III, an insider in the Dinkins administration, provides the first in-depth look at how the black mayors of America's major cities achieve social change. Black constituents naturally look to black mayors to effect great change for the poor, but the reality of the situation is complicated. Thompson argues that African-American mayors, legislators, and political activists need to more effectively challenge opinions and public policies supported by the white public and encourage greater political inclusion and open political discourse within black communities. Only by unveiling painful internal oppresssions and exclusions within black politics will the black community's power increase, and compel similar unveilings in the broader interracial conversation about the problems of the urban poor. Tracing the historical development and contemporary practice of black mayoral politics, this is a fascinating study of the motivations of black politicians, competing ideologies in the black community and the inner dynamics of urban social change.

Boston Review articles

[BOOK] Social capital and poor communities
S Saegert, JP Thompson, MR Warren, 2002

[PDF] The role of social capital in combating poverty
MR Warren, JP Thompson, S Saegert, 2001

To denigrate, ignore, or disrupt: racial inequality in health and the impact of a policy-induced breakdown of African American communities
AT Geronimus, JP Thompson - Du Bois Review, 2004 - Cambridge Univ Press

Inner-city business development and entrepreneurship: New frontiers for policy and research
R Gittell, JP Thompson, 1999

Making social capital work: Social capital and community economic development
R Gittell, JP Thompson, 2001


In MIT News

J. Phillip Thompson named deputy mayor of New York City, 28 February 2018

3Q: J. Phillip Thompson on revitalizing Central Brooklyn, 20 March 2017

Institute honors Martin Luther King, Jr. at annual breakfast celebration, 5 February 2010

Race, Politics and American Media: Juan Williams and J. Phillip Thompson discuss how the collapse of print and other traditional news and the rise of celebrity culture have contributed to the sharp decline of in-depth stories involving race and society. 9 November 2009

Of note: Race, Politics and American Media, 6 October 2009

Helping build cities through anchor institutions: Leveraging nonprofit resources to improve local economies, 27 September 2013

Panel to discuss future of the Occupy movement, 5 December 2012

If the people will lead …At an MIT panel on the future of black politics, scholars discuss the need for civic engagement at a time of economic stress. 9 March 2012

Environmental Research Council issues report: Council is asked to develop plan to establish MIT Environmental Initiative, 20 May 2010

The long road for Haiti: Haitian leaders speak at MIT about reconstruction, 21 April 2010

New faculty task force to examine tenure issues, 18 February 2009

Diversity Leadership Congress to meet next month, 28 October 2008

MIT creates Environmental Research Council: Sets stage for Institute environment initiative, 3 October 2008

Race and diversity committee formed, 7 November 2007

23 faculty members awarded tenure, 25 October 2006

Freshmen to learn New Orleans' lessons: New architecture and planning course explores 'cities at risk,' 8 September 2006

Inspired by 9/11, DUSP student aids New Orleans rebuilding, 23 August 2006

MIT joins New Orleans recovery team, 23 August 2006

MIT assists $1.2 billion New Orleans project, 14 June 2006

Corporation OKs faculty promotions, 24 May 2006

Speakers explore resilience of cities post-disaster, 18 October 2005

Malveaux hits discrimination targets: Economic and political inequities 'dismantling the dream,' MLK speaker says, 11 February 2004

Malveaux takes aims at political, economic sources of discrimination, 9 February 2004

MLK Awards to be served at breakfast, 28 January 2004

Four honored with MLK Leadership Awards

MLK professors and scholars named, 17 October 2001

MLK Visiting Professors welcomed, 13 December 2000