Emmanuel Frimpong Boamah

Associate Professor
Department of Urban and Regional Planning
226 Hayes Hall
(716) 829-5930


Emmanuel Frimpong Boamah (PhD) is an associate professor and interim chair of the Department of Urban and Regional Planning, and an affiliated faculty member with UB's Community for Global Health Equity. He is trained in urban and regional planning and institutional economics. His work seeks to understand and reform the planning processes and institutional structures (laws, norms, values) that impede and ‘weaponize’ planning interventions against historically marginalized communities. It straddles two overlapping foci. The first seeks to identify the institutional drivers of land, water, food, and housing inequities in sub-Saharan Africa and the United States. The second aims to reform these drivers by advancing polycentricity as a framework for designing flexible and learning-based planning institutions. Both foci ascertain the need for institutional analysis in planning—‘institutional sequencing’—to identify the ‘nucleotides,’ or building blocks, of institutions and their societal impacts. He employs mixed-methods in this research, including social network analysis and modeling, and systems dynamics.

Emmanuel has published in some of the world’s leading planning and cross-disciplinary journals, including Planning Theory, Urban Studies, Planning Theory and Practice, Land Use Policy, World Development, Applied Geography, Environment and Planning: C, and Big Data and Society. He currently advises and works with the World Health Organization’s Urban Health Unit to develop an implementation toolkit with case studies for communities and governments as part of the recently launched WHO Housing and Health Guidelines. He is currently (beginning 2021) a board member of Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper.

I am trained as an interdisciplinary scholar ... when I think of water I think of land, and when I Think of land I think of food. These three things go hand in hand.

 - Emmanuel Frimpong Boamah at a panel discussion entitled Research for The Common Good, sponsored by the the UB School of Social Work April 4 , 2018


Professor Boamah speaking with a student.

Frimpong Boamah during a site visit with undergraduate environmental design students. Photo by Maryanne Schultz

Frimpong Boamah is a prolific researcher and scholar with interests in water governance and determinations of the appropriate institutional frameworks for dealing with water issues.

His dissertation project examined how collaborative governance in the Middle Rio Grande (MRG) urban watershed is shaped by factors such as social capital, trust, social-ecological risks, access to information, and political power. He argued that these factors evince the governance of the MRG as a polycentric ecology of urban water policy games.

Today, Frimpong Boamah’s research continues to explore the frontiers of scholarship on urban health and planning, environmental governance, and public policy in the U.S. and sub-Saharan Africa.  He is currently involved in three projects. The first project builds on his dissertation to develop an agent-based, game-theoretic model to simulate the emergence of collaborative governance networks in watershed systems. The second project also develops a game-theoretic model based on his co-authored paper, Legal Pluralism, Land Tenure and the Production of “Nomotropic Urban Spaces” in Post-colonial Accra, Ghana. The model explains “nomotropic urbanism,” a concept he and his co-author used to capture the urban informality, land tenure, and political-economic dynamics in postcolonial cities in Africa. The third project draws on theoretical constructs from schools of thought such as the Virginia (constitutional political economy) and the Bloomington (polycentric governance) schools of political economy to explore complex urban health and planning, governance, and public policy issues in postcolonial sub-Saharan Africa countries (e.g. collective action dilemmas of urban traffic pollution, urban agriculture and food networks, political decentralization and urban planning paralysis, and public finance).