James A. Clapp is Emeritus Professor of Planning and Urban Affairs at San Diego State University, where he formerly directed the Master of City Planning Program and was Chairman of the School of Public Administration and Urban Studies. He received his Ph.D. in Metropolitan Studies from the Maxwell School at Syracuse University in 1968 and practiced for several years as a public urban planner and planning consultant.
He is author of over 100 articles, book chapters, reviews, and technical reports on cities and city planning, and his book, New Towns and Urban Policy (Dunellen, 1971) was the main selection of the Library of Urban Affairs Book Club in 1971. His book, The City: A Dictionary of Quotable Thoughts On Cities And Urban Life (Rutgers, 1984) was in print for over a decade and was recently translated into Chinese and published by the Chinese Architectural and Engineering Press. His book (with M. Stofflet), California Cityscapes (Universe Books, 1991) deals with the portrayal of the city in art. A book of his aphorisms, Lifelines, writing as Sebastian Gerard, was published in May 2004, and This Urban Life: Writing About Cities for Multiple Media, was published in 2005. The Stranger is Me: Travels and Self-Discoveries,was published in Spring 2007. He has completed book-length manuscripts on The Art of Urbanism and The American City in the Cinema, recently completed his first full-length fiction project, For Goodness Sake, A Novel of the Afterlife of Suzie Wong, which was published in early 2008. His current projects are discussed under the page Works in Progress (at left menu bar).
Dr. Clapp has also taught on the faculty of the University of California, and was appointed by the French Ministry of Education as a Visiting Professor at the University of Paris in 1989, where he also lectured on both film and American urbanism in November 1999. He also taught for the Syracuse University Division of International Programs in Hong Kong in 1997 and was a guest lecturer at TongJi University, Shanghai. He has also delivered lectures at Peking and Tsinghua Universities and the Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing. In the year 2000 he served as the Fulbright Scholar at Lingnan University and the School of Creative Media at City University, in Hong Kong. He was recently (2008) invitied to give a series of seminars to the faculty of Bejing City University, where he has been appointed an "Honorary Professor."
From 1977 to 2001 he conducted annual summer travel-study courses in European, Asian, North African, and Middle Eastern cities. He has visited cities in over 70 countries.
Dr. Clapp's work in media and journalism began in 1980 when as Chairman of the School of Public Administration and Urban studies he was instrumental in creating the Film-Maker-In-Residence position at SDSU and in the acquisition of its first occupant, two-time Academy Award recipient, Denis Sanders. He collaborated with Sanders, with whom he was co-founder of the Program for Media and Urban Affairs and also Sanders and Clapp Productions, until the death of Sanders in 1988. In conjunction with Sanders he developed a course on The American City in the Cinema, which he has taught each semester at SDSU since 1984, and has taught at foreign universities.
He was also Director of the Program for Media and Urban Affairs and is President of Urbis Media Productions. As Producer/Writer/Commentator for San Diego Public Radio KPBS-FM from 1987 to 1992, he wrote and/or produced over 100 essays, interviews and documentaries, and wrote and hosted its public affairs program, Metropolitan Journal. He has been co-producer and scriptwriter for the Production Center of the Department of Telecommunications and Film for television documentaries in San Diego and Egypt and Israel. In 1990 one of his programs for KPBS-FM received a "Best Investigative Reporting" award from the San Diego Press Club. He is also a freelance magazine and newspaper writer on travel and urban affairs topics, and was the 1991 recipient of the California Chapter of the American Planning Association Journalism Award for his series of articles for the San Diego Union. In 2003 he inaugerqated his website, Dragon City Journal, on which he has published over 400 essays on urbanism, media, travel and other subjects.
He has two daughters, Laura and Lisa, both graduates of the University of California, by his late wife, artist and professor of art and design, Patricia Lynch Clapp.