Douglas Webster has worked on urban development issues in East Asia for twenty-five years, as well as in Latin America and Africa.
Professor Webster's current interests are comparative urban dynamics, urban competitiveness and resilience, peri-urbanization (most urban development is occurring on the fringes of cities worldwide), and urban governance. Geographically, his work primarily focuses on East Asia. He is involved in researching urban scale adaptation to cope with climate change in Thailand and Vietnam. Professor Webster is currently co-authoring a book on Chinese urban futures, based on extensive field work on city building processes in China.
Webster was a Senior Consulting Professor in the Urban Dynamics of East Asia program at the Asia Pacific Research Center of Stanford University from 1998 to 2004. He has been professor of planning at the University of British Columbia, Asian Institute of Technology, Utrecht University, and the University of Calgary. He was the senior urban advisor to the Royal Thai Government from 1993 to 1998. Early in his career, he was a staff member of the World Bank, based in Malaysia. Over the last three decades Webster has been a frequent advisor to international organizations, such as the World Bank, and to private corporations involved in city building processes and urbanization policies.
Recent publications focus on urbanization dynamics in the context of economic shocks, post-petroleum dynamics, climate change, and accelerating globalization. Recent articles examine adaptation to climate change in Thailand and Vietnam, global urban competitiveness ranking systems, and Bangkok as a political capital.
As Chair, Professor Webster's agenda is to improve the effectiveness of the Global Studies Program to develop graduates who will have an understanding of global issues, e.g., climate change, pandemics, migration, that will make them important shapers of our global future, whether working in international agencies, voluntary organizations, or multi-national corporations.