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. He has also taught at universities in Thailand, Indonesia, and Bangladesh. 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. Recently, for the Asian Development Bank, he conceptualized and led a book project on the impacts of COVID-19 on urban informal services in Asia. He is also leading a multi-year project focused on Indonesia, Bolstering Planning Research and Education Towards Inclusive Urbanization, as part of a $ 1 million Luce Initiative on Southeast Asia (LuceSEA) grant for UHM’s Center for Southeast Asian Studies and the East-West Center.

Appointed by the President of the Association of the Collegiate Schools of Planning (ACSP), he is currently the co-chair of 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.

Courses Instructed

  • PLAN 310 Introduction to Planning
  • PLAN 414 Hazards and Resilience
  • PLAN 600 Planning Theory and Public Policy
  • PLAN 602 Advanced Planning Theory
  • PLAN 628 Urban Environmental Problems
  • PLAN 630 Urban and 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. 2023. “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.

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

Das, Ashok, and Bambang Susantono. 2022. “Learning from Informality during COVID-19: Leveraging Informal Services for Improved Planning in Asian Cities.” In Informal Services in Asian Cities: Lessons for Urban Planning and Management from the COVID-19 Pandemic, edited by Ashok Das and Bambang Susantono, pp. 364–87. Tokyo, Japan: ADBI (Asian Development Bank Institute) Press.

Taylor, John, Ashok Das, Janet Naco, Saiful Momen, and Bambang Susantono. 2022. “Nourishment at the Margins of a Megacity: How the Poor Eat in Dhaka.” In Informal Services in Asian Cities: Lessons for Urban Planning and Management from the COVID-19 Pandemic, edited by Ashok Das and Bambang Susantono, 132–72. Tokyo, Japan: ADBI (Asian Development Bank Institute) Press.

Fan, Yingling, Lesli Hoey, Ashok Das, Clara Irazábal, Bruce Stiftel, Gavin Shatkin, Francis Owusu, Petra Doan, Yiping Fang, and Andrew Rumbach. 2022. “Improving Global Planning Education by Centering the Experience of International Students in U.S. and Canadian Planning Schools.” Journal of Planning Education and Research 42 (3): 260–67.

Bharat Dahiya and Ashok Das, eds. 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.   

Das, Ashok. 2018. Development and shelter challenges of small islands: planning with a pro-poor perspective. Journal of architecture & ENVIRONMENT 17 (2): 85–126.

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

Das, Ashok, and Asrizal Luthfi. 2017. “Disaster risk reduction in post-decentralization Indonesia: institutional arrangements and changes” (Chapter 4). 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, pp. 85-125. Cham, Switzerland: Springer International Publishing. DOI:

Das, Ashok. 2015. Autonomous but constrained: CBOs and urban upgrading in Indonesia. Cities 48: 8–20.

Das, Ashok. 2015. Slum upgrading with community-managed microfinance: towards progressive planning in Indonesia. Habitat International 47: 256-266.

Mukhija, Vinit, Ashok Das, Lara Regus, and Sara Slovin Tsay. The tradeoffs of inclusionary zoning: what do we know and what do we need to know? Planning Practice and Research 30(2): 222-235.

Das, Ashok and Lois M. Takahashi. 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.