Professor Birch is the Lawrence C. Nussdorf Chair of Urban Research and Education. She teaches courses in planning history, global urbanization and serves as chair, Graduate Group in City and Regional Planning , co-director, Penn Institute for Urban Research, co-editor, City in the 21st Century Series, University of Penn Press and co-editor, SSRN Urban Research e-journal.
Professor Birch has been active in the field’s professional organizations and in academia in the United States and abroad. She is a member of the U.S. National Committee for Habitat, the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) Thematic Group on Resilient Cities, and an Associate Editor, Journal of the American Planning Association. In the past, she has been President, Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning; President, Society of American City and Regional Planning History; President, International Planning History Society; and co-editor, Journal of the American Planning Association. She has been a member of the Planning Accreditation Board, having served as its chair from 2004-2006. She has been a member of the editorial boards of Planning Theory and Practice, Journal of Planning History, Journal of Planning Education and Research and Planning Perspectives. In 2000, she was elected to the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Certified Planners and made a member (honorary) of the Royal Town Planning Institute.
Professor Birch has been Visiting Scholar, Queens University, Foreign Scholar, University of Hong Kong and Visiting Professor, University of the Witswatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa. She lectures widely. In Fall 2012, she delivered the Burnham Lecture, National Building Museum, Washington DC.