Ashok Das

Ashok Das, Faculty, Department of Urban and Regional Planning, UH Mānoa

Associate Professor
Saunders 109
(808) 956-4256

Areas of Interest

Community Participation and Empowerment, Slum Upgrading, Decentralization and Local Governance, Role of Civil Society in Equitable Development and Inclusive Urbanization, Integrated Microfinance, Disaster Risk Reduction, Socioeconomic Impacts of the Platform Economy, Reforming Planning Practice through Planning Education, Southeast Asia, South Asia


  • Ph.D., Urban Planning, University of California at Los Angeles
  • M.Arch., M.A. in Environmental Planning and Management, Kansas State University
  • B.Arch., School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi


  • UHM Chancellor’s Award for Meritorious Teaching, 2016


At DURP, Ashok teaches courses on planning theory and history, planning in Asia, research design, and urbanization and globalization. Prior to coming to DURP, he was an assistant professor in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning, San Francisco State University. Broadly, Ashok’s research explores institutional challenges to and innovations in ameliorating urban poverty through the provision of services in developing countries, especially in Southeast and South Asia. Since the mid-2000s he has continued field research in Indonesia. Community participation and empowerment, slum upgrading, decentralization and local governance, and the role of civil society in fostering equitable development and inclusive urbanization are his key interests. His recent work has explored community-managed integrated microfinance for urban poverty alleviation, disaster risk reduction, pro-poor shelter policies, planning education, and the platform economy’s impacts on urban transportation-related social mobility and economic resilience. He has also researched inclusionary housing’s impacts in the United States.

Appointed by the President of the Association of the Collegiate Schools of Planning (ACSP), he currently serves on the ACSP Global Planning Education Committee. He has contributed expert advice and/or research on planning and development to entities such as the Asian Development Bank, World Resources Institute, Ford Foundation, UN-ESCAP, UN-Habitat, and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.

Intermittently, Ashok dabbles in art. Lately, he has taken to urban sketching and he recently designed the DURP logo. He was the chief cartoonist (1996-98) for India’s leading architecture magazine, Architecture+Design; produced clip art for computers (1997-98) for an early outsourcing venture; illustrated a manual to guide remote rural communities in India to build schools through self-help (1998), and a practitioner’s guide to evidence-based design (EBD) for American healthcare design professionals (2008). Gastronomy is another obsession. As a gourmand and an omnivore, he especially covets what most consider exotic or bizarre edibles. Experiencing street foods and traditional markets (a threatened urban treasure) are atop his to-do list in a new city. However, more than eating, he loves to cook Indian, Italian, Cantonese, Indonesian, and Thai cuisines. A major hike or high-altitude trek usually features on his annual calendar; past ones include the Teton Crest Trail (WY); Mt. Kilimanjaro (Tanzania); West Coast Trail (Vancouver Island, BC), Jonas Pass-Brazeau Lake Loop (Jasper National Park, Canada); Inca Trail (Machu Picchu, Peru); Mt. Shasta and Half Dome (CA); South Kaibab & Bright Angel trails (Grand Canyon, AZ); Mt. Evans (Arapaho National Forest, CO); and Chhobia Pass, Kunzum Pass, Kunwari Pass, Roopkund, and Chandra Taal in the Indian Himalayas. An avid sportsman, he loves squash, badminton, soccer, and all variants of cueing on the green baize, and the COVID-19 pandemic led him to pickleball.

Courses Instructed

  • PLAN 310 Introduction to Planning
  • PLAN 600 Planning Theory and Public Policy
  • PLAN 602 Advanced Planning Theory
  • PLAN 628 Urban Environmental Problems
  • PLAN 630 Urban & Regional Planning in Asia
  • PLAN 633 Globalization and Urban Policy
  • PLAN 650 Research Design Seminar
  • PLAN 655 Planning research Methods
  • PLAN 610 Community Planning and Social Policy 

Selected Books and Publications

Das, Ashok and Bambang Susantono (editors). Forthcoming (2022). Informal Services in Asian Cities: Lessons for Urban Planning & Management from the COVID-19 Pandemic. Tokyo: Asian Development Bank Institute (ADBI).

Das, Ashok. Forthcoming (2022). “Resuscitating design in shelter policy for the poor: lessons from Surabaya.” In Routledge Handbook of Urban Indonesia, edited by Sonia Roitman and Deden Rukmana. New York: Routledge.

Bharat Dahiya and Ashok Das (editors). 2020. New Urban Agenda in Asia-Pacific: governance for sustainable and inclusive cities. Singapore: Springer Nature. DOI:

Das, Ashok. (2020). Affordable housing for Hawai‘i and Native Hawaiians: Exploring ideas and innovations [Research Report]. Department of Urban and Regional Planning, University of Hawai’i at Mānoa.

Das, Ashok and Robin King. 2019. Surabaya: the legacy of participatory upgrading of informal settlements. World Resources Report Case Study. Washington D.C.: World Resources Institute.

Das, Ashok. 2018. Is innovative also effective? A critique of pro-poor shelter in Southeast Asia. International Journal of Housing Policy 18(2): 233-265. DOI: 10.1080/14616718.2016.1248606

Das, Ashok. 2017. A city of two tales: shelter and migrants in Surabaya. Environment and Urbanization ASIA 8(1): 1-21. DOI: 10.1177/0975425316686501.

Das, Ashok and Asrizal Luthfi. 2017. “Disaster risk reduction in post-decentralization Indonesia: institutional arrangements and changes” (Chapter 3). In Disaster risk reduction in Indonesia: progress and challenges in managing risks, reducing vulnerability, and building resilience, edited by Riyanti Djalante, Frank Thomalla, Matthias Garschagen, and Rajib Shaw. Springer Academic Publishing AG. DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-54466-3

Das, Ashok. 2015. “Autonomous but constrained: CBOs and urban upgrading in Indonesia.” Cities 48: 8–20. DOI: 10.1016/j.cities.2015.05.009.

Das, Ashok. 2015. Slum upgrading with community-managed microfinance: towards progressive planning in Indonesia. Habitat International 47: 256-266. DOI: 10.1016/j.habitatint.2015.01.004

Das, Ashok. 2015. Participatory slum upgrading: lessons from post-decentralization India and Indonesia. Journal of Indonesian Regional Development and Environment 1(1): 15-34.

Mukhija, Vinit, Ashok Das, Lara Regus, and Sara Slovin Tsay. 2015. The rise and spread of inclusionary housing: what do we know and what do we need to know? Planning Practice and Research 30(2): 222-235. DOI: 10.1080/02697459.2015.1008793

Mukhija, Vinit, Lara Regus, Sara Slovin, and Ashok Das. 2010. Can inclusionary zoning be an effective and efficient housing policy? evidence from Los Angeles and Orange counties. Journal of Urban Affairs 32(2): 229-252. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9906.2010.00495.x

Das, Ashok, and Lois M. Takahashi. 2009. Evolving institutional arrangements, scaling-up, and sustainability: insights into emerging issues in participatory slum upgrading in Ahmedabad, India. Journal of Planning Education and Research 29(2): 213-232. DOI: 10.1177/0739456X09348613