Francis Y Owusu

Francis Y Owusu

  • Department Chair
  • Professor
Dr. Francis Owusu is a Professor and the Chair of the Department of Community and Regional Planning, Iowa State University (ISU), USA. He is also an affiliated faculty of the African and African American Studies program and the Graduate Program in Sustainable Agriculture. He received a B.A. (Hons) in Geography and Archaeology and an MA in Population Studies from the University of Ghana, M.A. in Geography from Carleton University in Canada, and a Ph.D. in Geography from the University of Minnesota, USA.

His research focuses on globalization and development policy, institutional capacity building, natural resources management, and urban and economic development issues. Originally from Ghana, he has conducted research on these topics in several African countries and has authored several journal articles, book chapters, book reviews, and reports. He is a co-editor of Managing Africa's Natural Resources: Capacities for Development, published by Palgrave. He has received several research awards, including the 2015 Kwadwo Konadu-Agyemang Distinguished Scholar Award in African Geography awarded by the Africa Specialty Group of the Association of American Geographers; the 2013 College of Design Faculty Research Award; and Best Economic Geography Dissertation Award for 2001. He has consulted for several international organizations, including the Partnership for African Social and Governance Research (PASGR), the World Bank, the Africa Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF), and National Science Foundation (NSF). He is currently the ISU Project Leader for the University Capacity Development Program (University Staff Doctoral Programme) between the University of Limpopo, South Africa, and ISU, funded by the Department of Higher Education and Training, South Africa.

Dr. Owusu teaches graduate and undergraduate classes on international development, globalization and cities, and planning methods. He has advised many masters and Ph.D. students and has served as the thesis external for many students from the University of Ghana, Legon. He has won several teaching awards, including the College of Design’s 2006 Polster Teaching Award and a 2007 Memorable Teacher Award from the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching. He also has held leadership positions in academic and professional organizations, including the Africa Specialty Group of the Association of American Geographers from 2005 to 2008 and is currently the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning (ACSP) representative to Global Planning Education Association Network (GPEAN) and the President for Mid-America Alliance for African Studies (MAAAS). He currently serves as an Associate Editor for the Journal of African Development (JAD) as well as on the editorial boards of the Journal for Planning Education and Research (JPER).


Contact Info

146 Design
715 Bissell Rd.


  • Ph.D., Geography, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, 2000
  • M.A., Geography, Carleton University, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, 1992
  • M.A., Population Studies, United Nations Regional Institute for Population Studies, University of Ghana, Legon, Ghana, 1990
  • B.A. (Hons), Geography (major) with Archeology (minor); University of Ghana, Legon, Ghana, 1987