Designed as an interdisciplinary program, Urban Studies offers a broad introduction to the city and the urban environment.
Students combine course work and urban issues with hands-on experience in New York City. A dedicated faculty offer courses ranging from urban politics and community, architecture and the built environment, urban history, immigration and class relations, to literary representations of urban space.
Congratulations Catherine Kien and Sarah Thompson!
Recipients of the 2022/23 Trinity Financial Fellowship
The Trinity Financial Fellowship supports the academic research of outstanding Urban Studies undergraduate majors at Fordham University as they complete their senior internship and thesis.
Participants in the Trinity Financial Fellowship produce senior theses related to social and economic concerns, community and cultural initiatives, the built environment and environmental justice.
Current Fellow Insights
“Hi, my name is Cat! I'm a senior at FCRH studying Urban Studies and Sociology, and I was born and raised in the Bronx. I'm interested in community outreach and social work, and I'm currently a youth organizer with Mekong NYC, which serves Vietnamese and Cambodian community members in the Bronx.
Through my senior thesis, I aim to explore the “School-to-Prison-to-Deportation Pipeline,” and analyze data related to urban schools, police presence in urban communities, and the life outcomes of Southeast Asian refugees. My investigation would highlight the ways in which police violence–in addition to unsustainable welfare, mental health challenges, and limited social support–impacts refugees’ ability to settle into their urban communities. I would like to specifically highlight the experiences and conditions of individuals who live in urban sanctuary cities in order to observe how Southeast Asians are actually protected from this systemic violence and potentially deportation.”
“My thesis will explore the housing affordability crisis and the climate crisis, posing green building as a remedy to both cases. I plan to study housing solutions in the Bronx, a borough that faces disinvestment and speculation in its housing stock. By collecting data and conducting interviews to examine the efficacy of green building through a social housing model lens, I hypothesize both affordability and health for tenants will improve, while poor housing quality and displacement of residents that arise from disinvestment will be disrupted.”
City Politics has received praise for the clarity of its writing, careful research, and distinctive theme – that urban politics in the United States has evolved as a dynamic interaction between governmental power, private actors, and a politics of identity.
The book’s enduring appeal lies in its persuasive explanation, careful attention to historical detail, and accessible and elegant way of teaching the complexity and breadth of urban and regional politics which unfold at the intersection of spatial, cultural, economic, and policy dynamics. This 11th edition has been thoroughly updated while retaining the popular structure of past editions.
There is ample data to show the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on communities of color, and the exacerbating effects it had on existing inequalities. But simultaneously, we also witnessed a highly politicized discussion, in which politicians and journalists were quick to proclaim The End of the City as we know it. Our panelists will examine all these different narratives, as well as the real effects of the pandemic, from their different perspectives.
The Covid-19 pandemic has changed academic conversation, likely forever. This last June, several dozen GUHP members from across the world gathered to envision new ways to fulfill the Project's mission as we go forward. Instead of thinking about location or formats of new events, we decided that online some form of hybrid events were actually to GUHP's advantage, since they allowed relatively simple and chap ways to bring the membership together over long distances.
What are our "Dream Conversations"?
Four subjects came up repeatedly in both sessions and met with unanimous interest: thoery, Empire, inequality, and the Anthropocene. Instead of organzing conferences on every contonent as we had orginally envisioned, we propose to hold simultaneous, thorough, and ongoing conversations about all four topics that will last over the next year and beyond. These conversations will also give shape to the highly successful Mentorship Program that developed last year to meet th need for ongoing professional development of global urban historians during the pandemic.
History of Economic Life: Capitalism and its Others
“This course provides students with the foundations for graduate work on the history of economic life: the study of how humans have produced, exchanged, consumed, and thought about goods. We seek in particular to understand capitalism in relationship to its various Others, including pre-capitalist pasts, non-capitalist alternatives, and post-capitalist visions of the future. Potential topics range from land tenure in pre-colonial native North America, to caste in colonial Indian labor markets, to industry in the Cold·War Soviet Bloc, to feminist·Marxist visions of a post· work society. Students of any time period, including students working in disciplines outside of history, are welcome.”
The concept of artificial intelligence has been with us since 1955, when a group of researchers first proposed a study of “the simulation of human intelligence processes by machines.” At the same time, it seems like not a day goes by without news about some development, making it feel very futuristic.
It’s also the purview of professors from a variety of fields at Fordham, such as Damian Lyons, Ph.D., a professor of computer science, R.P. Raghupathi Ph.D., a professor of information, technology and operations at Gabelli School of Business, and Lauri Goldkind, Ph.D., a professor at the Graduate School of Social Service.
Listen to the podcast by Fordham Urban Studies alumnus Patrick Verel:
“When Bethany Fernandez first began to document oral histories in the Bronx during the pandemic, her own life was “chaotic,” she says – her familiar routines upended, her days confronted with fear and uncertainty.
But the past year and a half has become, almost in a strange way, a time of profound personal growth and self-discovery, says Ms. Fernandez, a lifelong resident of the Bronx, a borough of New York City.
The communities surrounding her were among the most afflicted in the country, and they were being documented relentlessly in the news. But when she decided to join a group of fellow students at Fordham University to launch the Bronx COVID-19 Oral History Project, she found a reality not fully captured in the news, she says.”
“In moments like these, a cynical person might think, ‘Oh, people are going to be selfish’ – resources are scarce, survival of the fittest, or whatever,” says Ms. Fernandez. “But no, it was the complete opposite. People were willing to give, people willing to extend themselves, even if they may not have had that much to give or to extend.”
In two dozen interviews with Bronx teachers, families, artists, and community leaders, people described a similar sense of energy, positivity, and resilience, says Mark Naison, professor of history and African and African American studies at Fordham, who advised the students.
“You know, we found all these people who were doing amazing things to help keep the community alive during this time,” he says.
Fordham’s Urban Studies Program stands in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and all the protesters demanding racial justice and an end to police brutality towards minorities across the country. We firmly believe that in a society, in which all are not free from oppression and injustice, no one is truly free. Therefore, we must all recognize our responsibility to work towards pointing out systemic inequality and racism throughout our country, and our institutions, as a first step toward ending and overcoming it.
Commencement message from Dr. Annika M. Hinze, Director of Urban Studies
Dear Class of 2021,
What a year it has been! We started out the academic year after a summer of social conflict, political failures, and pandemic uncertainty. And we did this mostly online – though some of you and your professors braved in-person classes, masked and socially distanced. “Socially distanced” – that is quite the term for a social scientist. It sounds like an oxymoron: Is it even possible to be social from a distance when we, as human beings, are so dependent on physical touch and social interaction? Well, we – you – somehow made it possible!
I can honestly say that I did not enjoy teaching remotely. I like to pace around the classroom, I like to use my arms and hands when I speak, I like to try and read the room that I am in. I like to get in the right mental state for my class on my commute to campus – first on the train, then on the bus, while watching the people and buildings change as I go, sipping my morning coffee. I am an urbanist, after all! I enjoy being in the City, with the City, of the City, on my way to work. None of that was possible on a Zoom screen, in a virtual work environment. Sometimes, I would get up from my desk for a late lunchbreak for the first time since the early morning and realize that I had not moved much further than ten feet from where I slept the night before. That depressed me. Yet, I was moved so many times by how much you, my students, got into the zone: you got passionate about the discussion topics, the readings, the comments of your classmates. You engaged, questioned, reflected. You even produced some research. That is, given the circumstances, no small feat.
It was not just the pandemic, the remote classes, the ever-changing case numbers and guidance about what to do that made this past year so tough to survive. It was also the human cost. What we lost. We lost loved ones. We lost acquaintances. And if we were lucky enough not to lose anyone we knew and loved, we lost time with them. Time that will not come back. We lost time to do what we love, whether that would have been time spend traveling the world, socializing with friends, or simply hugging our parents – it is lost forever, and it is ok to grieve that.
And then, on top of all that, we witnessed, felt, processed, grieved so many other things that happened on a social and political scale. After a difficult and more divisive election season than perhaps ever before, we witnessed a domestic attack on the U.S. Capitol with the explicit goal to dismantle the democratic mechanisms of our political system. And we continue to witness and confront the societal fact that our democracy is still not as inclusive as it promises to be. Despite their social, cultural, economic, and political contributions, people of color are still not afforded the same privileges in our society. We continue to witness violence against black and brown bodies, and targeted attempts to exclude them from the democratic process. Many of these tensions and grievances boiled over in the midst of a pandemic that disproportionately affected black and brown Americans who continue to live and work under less safe, healthy, and fair conditions than white Americans. We witnessed targeted hatred and violence against Asian Americans in connection with the pandemic. Many of you may have personally felt the effects of those events and injustices.
Just because the infamous year of 2020 and the oh-so-very-strange 2020/21 academic year are over does not mean we are out of the woods. As a society, we have much work to do. As individuals, we may have just received our COVID vaccines and started to emerge from our social isolation, breathing in the spring air and admiring nature’s reawakening all around us, taking stock of what we have lost, and how to move forward.
I have always loved the term Commencement. In many other languages, we just speak of Graduation, but Commencement is so much more powerful, because of what it implies: Finishing your degree is not the end – it is the beginning. The beginning of a new chapter. As we emerge from the pandemic into so much uncertainty, we also have the ability to start anew. To write a new chapter. All the grief and pain from last year should not be something we are merely leaving behind. Instead, maybe we can use it to inspire this new start. To do better. To rebuild.
You have all shown so much capacity for resilience, creativity, and love in getting through the pandemic, finishing your studies, and living gracefully through so much loss. You give me so much hope for what is possible, and you make me so proud of what you have accomplished. As the next generation, you are badly needed!
With all my heart – congratulations on an amazing achievement, Class of 2021!
Annika Marlen Hinze, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Department of Political Science
Director, Urban Studies Program
The beginning of the tour at Heinrich Heine Fountain.
Adam talking while standing on the Grand Concourse with Joyce Kilmer Park in the background.
Students inside the Seventh Day Adventist Church on the Grand Concourse, which used to be a Synagogue.
Students exiting Christ the King Catholic Church at 141 Marcy Place, just off the Grand Concourse -- an Art Deco Church hidden under a 1950s building.
Starting at the lower end of the exquisitely urban boulevard known as the Grand Concourse, we walk through the Bronx’s metamorphosis into our present society and home. We witness its diverse population transforming over time. We take note of historical buildings still standing and observe their history led by two Bronx history buffs (both Fordham Urban Studies Alumni and NYC natives), Adam Stoler and Nestor Danyluk.
Finally, what better way to experience “live” than taste? Stay with us, for the walking tour includes a treat from the Urban Studies Program—the joy of breaking bread together, tasting what the Bronx is made up of today.
Fordham Urban Studies alumnus Zellnor Myrie, New York State Senator (D-20), talks about his experience getting pepper sprayed at a protest last weekend, and discusses laws he hopes to pass that would help change the justice system and reform policing.
Dr. Jason Johnson, professor at Morgan State University, political contributor at MSNBC, contributor to The Grio and Sirius XM, and Christina Greer, political science professor at Fordham University, host of the podcast FAQNYC, politics editor at The Grio and the host of The Aftermath on OZY , talk about the uprisings happening across the country, and the political ramifications.
An extensive range of architecture, infrastructure, and industry characterizes the northern perimeter of Astoria, Queens. I selected this area as the focus of my New York City Guide in part because I find it fascinating in its mix of land uses and architectural styles, and in part because I expect it is likely to change dramatically in the next two decades — the latter based both on recent patterns of development in the wider neighborhood of Astoria, and on a proposed zoning change for Rikers Island. My guide is a mix between a walking tour of historical sites in the area, a review of current land use, an informal photographic survey, and a long-term projection for neighborhood change.
This zoning map shows how the land that is the focus of the tour is currently divided. The map has been adapted from its original version,2 with original shading greyed for emphasis. Yellow shading marks the edge of the residential zone and purple marks manufacturing; light purple marks light manufacturing (accessible), while darker purple (M3-1) marks heavy manufacturing (closed to the public). Pink (Rikers Island and North Brother Island in this map) are currently zoned as commercial.
land use: the current edge
The walking tour begins where East Elmhurst meets Astoria, taking the visitor along the main routes of 19th and 20th Avenues and onto the smaller 41st Street, Berrian Boulevard, and Steinway Place. The route traces what is essentially the edge of northern Astoria, moving east to west. Despite the neighborhood being bordered by the East River on both the north and the west, the tour does not hit the geographical edge, where the land meets the water, until its conclusion. Due to current land use regulations, much of this area is closed to the public; the majority is designated for heavy manufacturing. Guiding the visitor along the border between the manufacturing and residential zones, and into the section that is designated for light manufacturing and mixed-use, the walking tour follows what is, for the general public, the accessible edge of northern Astoria.
Rikers Island Jail Complex
John Moore/Getty Images
by Victoria L. McDonald
This New York City Guide is featuring The Rikers Island Jail Complex. The Rikers Island Jail Complex is an interconnected detention facility located on Rikers Island, an Island located in the East River between The Bronx and Queens and politically affiliated with The Bronx, New York. This New York City Guide will give you the history of the physical island, it will walk you through its transition from private ownership to its current jail complex as well as to discuss the political processes and legislation that affected its creation and projected closure.
The primary research methodology used for the content of this New York City Guide was Archival Research via the Internet. Citation for all major sources of this guide is listed on the Bibliography page using the Modern Language Association (MLA) format.
The Rikers Island Jail Complex is New York City’s largest jail complex in the state. There are ten separate jails and infirmaries on the island that serve as housing facilities for those in pretrial confinement, pending transfer to another facility or serving sentences less than a year. The complex is identified as a jail complex as it houses inmates serving terms of one year or less, while prisons house inmates serving sentences of more than a year.
The Jail complex is located on Rikers Island and hears the islands name. Rikers Island is a 413.17 acre island located in the East River between The Bronx and Queens Boroughs. Rikers Island is politically apart of the Bronx, however it’s only method of access is the Francis Buono Bridge, which originates in Queens, with the complex holds an East Elmhurst, Queens mailing address. The island is said to be named after a Dutch Settler, Abraham Rycken, who purchased the island in 1664 and was owned by his descendants until its purchase from the city of New York in 1884. The Island was originally less than 100 acres in size but was expanded with the use of prison labor. Prior to the New York City Department of Correction’s establishment of the Jail complexes on Rikers Island, the Island was used as a Union Military training area during the Civil War and is notable for establishing the first three regiments of all African American Army Service Member’s, the 20th, 26th and 31st Infantry Regiments. Following the Civil War, on August 4th 1884, the NYC Commissioner of Charities and Corrections purchased the island from the Rycken family for $180,000 and the Island was briefly used as a Quarantine Facility, a Boy’s Reformatory and a Potters Field, or burial place for paupers and strangers. Eventually Hart Island was converted to a Potters Field and Rikers Island was designated as a Charity Workhouse and Corrections Facility while also being used as a Refuse Landfill for the City.
Shanghai is among the most dynamic global cities of both the 20th and 21st centuries. The city is China’s gateway to the world and its aspirations for the future. With more than 24 million people, 40 percent of whom are migrants, it is a global crossroads and one of the most multicultural cities in the world. It has more skyscrapers than New York and a public transport system that overtakes most global cities. Shanghai is a trading city, an entrepot of commodities. It exports electronic information products, automobiles, petrochemicals, fine steel, equipment, and biomedicine. It has the highest GDP of any city in China’s mainland and has become one of the leading financial sectors in East Asia, with major Western banks flocking to its new financial centre. With well over 500 multinational companies, the city attracts more foreign investment flows than most developing countries. Along with them has come a highly-skilled workforce from all over the world. Shanghai’s urban middle-class has fuelled China’s consumer revolution and a property boom. Sleek skyscrapers and glamorous malls, its brilliant skyline, dominate the global image of Shanghai and beckon tourists to its shores.
In a three-day symposium titled “Mapping (In)Justice,” dozens of scholars came to Fordham’s Lincoln Center campus from Nov. 7 to Nov. 9 to examine how digital mapping is being used by academics as a methodology to study justice and injustice, particularly when researching underserved communities.
Gregory Donovan, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Communication and Media Studies and co-founder of the Fordham Digital Scholarship Consortium, organized the conference with department chair Jacqueline Reich, Ph.D.
“Spatial media have politics, these are not neutral things,” said Donovan, who teaches a course of the same name as the conference for the Masters in Public Media. “We need to look at how our subjects are using digital mapping in their own lives and not just use this technology to study them from afar, like a scientist with a clipboard.”
Urban Studies alumnus Zellnor Myrie celebrated his inauguration in East Flatbush on Monday, February 11, 2019, before a host of electeds and constituents where everyone spoke to a new senatorial district 20.
After graduating from Brooklyn Technical High School, the 32-year-old attended Fordham University and then Cornell Law School. He was joined on stage by his mother, Marcelina Cummings, who was a staunch supporter of the lawmaker’s senatorial bid. Cummings came to the states from Costa Rica and worked as a factory worker initially.
“We must follow the command to be courageous,” said Myrie. “The problems that are facing our communities cannot be solved with the same solutions of yesterday. They require us to be courageous in our aspirations.”
“We will be bold in our actions and we will be bold on how we attack them,” said Myrie on how he’s looking to tackle the issues plaguing the community, including housing and homelessness.”
“Think about what he’s already accomplished,” said NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer who was also in attendance. “Early voting, early voting—the consolidation of state and local primaries — I’ll give you a fact as comptroller— that’s a savings of $50 million that can go to education and healthcare and housing. That’s what he did”.
Director of Urban Studies, and Professor of Political Science, Annika Hinze, is researching the best practices for making cities just, fair, and equitable for all.
“If you go into communities and interview people who live in what we call gentrifying communities, a lot of them welcome the changes in the neighborhood. Everybody wants to live in a nice neighborhood, with good infrastructure, and good schools that come with gentrification. It’s just that the residents want to stay in the neighborhood once it turns.”
Because cities are growing in importance around the globe, Hinze said she’s eager to continue partnerships with institutions in Pretoria, Berlin, and Amsterdam, and recruit more international students to study in New York. Closer to home, courses like The Urban Lab, which is being co-taught this semester by former urban studies director Rosemary Wakeman, Ph.D., professor of history, and Fordham Law’s Sheila Foster, exemplify the way the urban studies degree is truly interdisciplinary.
“Oddly, as filming in one medium (the cellphone) has become ubiquitous, people seem to fear the semi-professional more and more. A professional film shoot ascribes to standards — releases are signed, tacit agreements are made, those filmed understand the scope of the project. As someone who works alone (without a crew that creates a kind of picture a passerby might be able to understand) I often find myself at pains to explain myself.”