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Changes to Spring Academic Calendar Fordham is modifying its academic calendar in anticipation of a national resurgence of the COVID-19 pandemic this winter. Full Details

Urban Studies

Welcome Back, Students!

Times Square Street Scene

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.

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Urban Law Day Roundtable Discussion
Law and the New Urban Agenda in the Current Crisis

Urban Law Day Roundtable 2020

This event happened on October 6, 2020
Virtual / New York.

In honor of the annual World Habitat Day, please join UN-Habitat and the Fordham Urban Law Center for an Urban Law Day Roundtable Discussion on October 6, 2020. Featuring a panel of urban legal scholars from around the world, the Roundtable will engage with the recently published book, Law and the New Urban Agenda, and its significance for the contemporary urban moment in the face of the challenges from COVID-19 and related pressing issues.

introduction and moderation:

scheduled panelists include:

The Year Ahead

Fordham Forward

Fordham University has developed a comprehensive plan, Fordham Forward, for successfully restarting operations on our New York campuses and welcoming students, faculty, and staff back to campus.

Fordham Forward Bullet Lower Density and Social Distancing

Operate at a lower density and institute social distancing standards in all facilities

Fordham Forward Bullet Enhanced Cleaning Measures

Undertake enhanced cleaning measures

Fordham Forward Bullet Personal Protective Equipment

Require the use of appropriate personal protective equipment

Fordham Forward Bullet Mandatory Universal Testing and Daily Health Screening

Employ mandatory universal testing and daily health screening to monitor, trace, and isolate potential infections

Fordham Forward Bullet Education

Educate around behaviors that ensure the health and safety of students, employees, and our local community

FordhamForward Arrows

New York Forward

The restart of Fordham University conforms with the governor’s plan to restart New York. As outlined in New York Forward, the state will reopen on a regional basis as each region meets the criteria necessary to protect public health.

New York City is in Phase Four as of July 20.

Learn more about Fordham Forward

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.

Until the killing of black men, black mothers’ sons, becomes as important to the rest of the country as the killing of a white mother’s son, we who believe in freedom cannot rest.(Ella’s Song, Bernice Johnson Reagon)

We strongly believe in the importance of confronting the past (and the present) for building a better and more equitable future, and we are committed to confronting existing racial injustice in our teaching and research.

Commencement message from Dr. Annika M. Hinze, Director of Urban Studies

Dear Class of 2020,

Congratulations on your amazing accomplishment! Finishing a degree is no small feat, and doing it under the conditions of a pandemic is incredible. With all the new technology suddenly at our fingertips, I have thought long and hard whether this message should be in a "new media" format. But the written word is the medium I feel most at home in, so I will congratulate you on your successful graduation in this format.

In so many ways, what is currently happening to the world seems unique, grueling, and unprecedented. It's also oddly anticlimactic, as most of us sit around our homes in our sweatpants, waiting. Waiting for the news to get better, for the sirens to stop, waiting to hug our friends, our family, waiting for our lives to resume, because, surely, this can't be our lives forever. But when I sat down this weekend, thinking about you, and the wonderful tradition of commencement -- one I haven't missed, ever, since coming to Fordham, it occurred to me that, yes, this IS life.

My grandmother was born in 1915 in Budweis, in Bohemia, a former bi-ethnic, Czech-German territory, which the Nazis annexed as part of Germany in 1938, and had to return to the Czechs in 1945. She was two years old when her father died in World War I, in 1917. He didn't get wounded in the trenches, but he died of a kidney infection in what must have been horrible medical conditions. One year later, the Spanish Flu pandemic swept through Europe, and the rest of the world. My grandmother and her older brother were orphaned when she was six and her mother died of tuberculosis; she was twenty-four when World War II started in Europe, forty-five when her husband, who had come home from the war, died of cancer. A year later, in 1961, the Berlin Wall was built. In 1962, the Cuban Missile Crisis threatened to make West Berlin, where she now lived with her two children, my mother and my uncle, the center of a possible World War III scenario. With nuclear bombs this time. Stores were empty, basements were stocked with non-perishables. Children, like my mom, were taught in school how to duck and cover -- a futile attempt to shield themselves from the lethal force of a nuclear bomb. World War III was prevented by a hair's length and some lucky diplomacy, but the Cold War was to go on for another three decades, and my grandmother would never see her beloved brother, who lived in Prague until he passed in the early 1990s, again -- though they would start to have phone conversations in Czech after the Berlin Wall came down in 1989.

"We Berliners would be the first to die if war broke out between the United States and the Soviet Union." my father told me when I, at seven years old, asked him what the Cold War was. It had only been one year since the 1986 nuclear disaster of Chernobyl, and we were in California at the time, eating salad for the first time since Chernobyl, because in in Germany, produce grown in the soil was still too polluted with radiation for my mother to deem it safe enough for us to eat. Two years later, the Berlin Wall, and with it the kleptocratic and corrupt Soviet system, was brought down by the brave and peaceful protests of the East German people.

I graduated high school ten years later, in 1999, into a world of peacemaking and peacekeeping, a growing and thriving European Union, and a prosperous dot-com-bubble-economy. I took that for granted then, because I didn't know it could be any different, and I went to school for a long time, mostly sheltered from economic impacts. When I graduated with my PhD in 2010, the Great Recession had turned the job market upside-down. Job searches were frozen, budgets withdrawn, graduate student funding cut. I made it out of the aching University of Illinois system just as they cut a lot of wonderful programs I had taken advantage of as a graduate student. Populism was resurging in the West. Global Climate Change was becoming real and devastating as Hurricane Sandy hit New York City in 2012. And now, in 2020, New York City has become one of the epicenters of a gruelling pandemic, and you are not only deprived of your well-deserved commencement ceremony, but you are graduating into what seems like a crushed economy and an uncertain future.

So, why did I just share my family's life story? Because I think that crises like this one are much more the norm than the exception. And individuals, but especially we, as a society, have the capacity to overcome them. To live through them. To prevail. In many cases, because we simply have no other choice. But also, because we can always make it work somehow. And so will you. Your degree will help you. And, hopefully, some of the relationships you have crafted with your professors, and your peers will help you as well. You have made it to this point because you are special. You are a privileged and ingenious minority who made it through all the chaos that is college life, internships, tests, and theses, and you are here! You will go further, and you will look back at this moment one day, as challenging, but also hopeful. At least I hope that you will from the bottom of my heart.

Again, on behalf of the entire Urban Studies Program, my heartfelt congratulations on your commencement!

I am so proud of you!

Annika Marlen Hinze, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Department of Political Science
Director, Urban Studies Program
Fordham University

Message to the Urban Studies Class of 2020 from Dr. Mark Naison

A New York Legislator's Take on the Protests

Zellnor Myrie on protests

from wync | the brian lehrer show: 

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.

Listen on The Brian Lehrer Show.

Prof. Greer talks Politics and Protest

Christina Greer

from wync | the brian lehrer show: 

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.

Listen on The Brian Lehrer Show.

nyc guides 2020

The Edge of Astoria

by Kate Doyle


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.

The Edge of Astoria
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.

nyc guides 2020

Rikers Island
Rikers Island Jail Complex
John Moore/Getty Images

Rikers Island

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.

See more Urban Studies MA NYC Guides

To BID or Not to BID?


On October 30, 2019, the Urban Studies program and Political Science department co-sponsored a panel discussion on “New York City’s Business Improvement Districts: Contributions and Critiques.” Featured speakers were Prof. Abe Unger of Wagner College, author of Business Improvement Districts: Private Government and Public Consequences (Palgrave-MacMillan, 2016); Rob Walsh, Senior Advisor for Strategic Partnerships at Manhattan College and former Commissioner of Small Business Services under Mayor Michael Bloomberg; and Prof. Paul Kantor, Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Fordham University.

We asked two of our Urban Studies undergraduate students, Mae Symmonds and Gregory Eppinger, to comment on the presentation. Both Mae and Gregory worked as interns during the fall 2019 semester with the Mosholu Preservation Corporation (MPC) in the Norwood area of the Bronx north of Fordham. Gregory did his placement with the Jerome Gun Hill BID, while Mae worked with Northwest Merchants Association (NMA) in its effort to form a BID.

mae symmonds

• The Debate on BIDs

Norwoods, BronxThe recent panel discussion about Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) included Abe Unger, who touched on what a BID is and its overall value and limits; Rob Walsh, who discussed why BIDs were created; and Paul Kantor, who talked about the urban economy in terms of switching to small state governance and the inclusion of BIDs within these arrangements. After hearing their views, I think that there is much discussion to be had about the proper role of a BID within society. There is much discrepancy over the overall value of BIDs because they are a public-private hybrid.

This means that, in terms of public power, once they are formed BIDs have the power to tax the businesses and properties within their jurisdiction. In terms of private power, BIDs are considered private corporations run by a board through a local non-profit. Through the public-private hybrid, BIDs are able to tax publicly and to spend privately, which poses an accountability problem for some people.

Since BIDs are partially a public entity, they allow more people with different backgrounds to come to the table to discuss effective business practices. The privatization of BIDs allow them to branch a bit away from the city governments that they are partially a part of, as people cannot rely on city governments to have the creativity and beautification efforts that those that live in the neighborhood could. The public-private hybrid of BIDs allows them to be more successful than if a BID was simply a public or private entity.

gregory eppinger

• What Do BIDs Do?

Jerome Ave fruit standStudents who make their daily trek down East Fordham Road towards the Fordham College at Rose Hill campus undoubtedly characterize the region by encounters with the multicultural populations, the smell of food carts, and the sound of a tattoo parlor overtly calling your attention over the clamor of traffic. However, the component separating this area from other neighborhoods in the Bronx is its unique abundance of small businesses. The organization tasked with maintaining the renowned commercial retail stretch is known as the Fordham Road Business Improvement District (BID).

BIDs are privately owned, non-profit corporations that allocate publicly funded grants to revive and bolster small businesses inhabiting depreciated properties. These organizations require substantial resources to maintain storefronts and improve foot traffic. Last year alone, Fordham Road BID’s expenses totaled an astounding output of nearly one million dollars. A large portion of the resources was dedicated to park upkeep, sanitation, and pop-up markets promoting community engagement.

The practicality of these programs and supplemental services is dependent on the size of the designated commercial areas. Smaller institutions, such as the Jerome Gun Hill BID located north of the Grand Concourse, lack sufficient funds necessary to administer equivalent assistance to storeowners. Although they are a recent innovation, Business Improvement Districts are deserving of increased financial support to further cement their integral roles expanding stability and productivity in the city’s small businesses.

Learn more about the event

Built Heritage special issue on Shanghai

Built Heritage Shanghai cover

A new special issue of Built Heritage, “Shanghai: Heritage at the Crossroads of Culture,” is edited by Fordham Professor of History Rosemary Wakeman. The journal is published by the College of Architecture and Urban Planning at Tongji University in Shanghai.

from wakeman's introduction: 

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.

 Rosemary Wakeman, “Shanghai and New York: Mid-Century Urban Avant-Gardes

Read more at Built Heritage.

Mapping Conference Tackles Justice Issues from a Geographic Perspective

Mapping Injustice

from fordham news:

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.”

Read the full article by Tom Stoelker at Fordham News.

View Digital Maps Project Gallery

from m(i)j project gallery: 

Congratulations NYS Sen. Zellnor Myrie, District 20

Zellnor Myrie inauguration

from bklyner: 

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”.

Read the full story at Bklyner.

What Makes a Great City Tick?

Prof. Annika Hinze

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.

Read the full story by Patrick Verel at Fordham News.

Mark Street Defends the Art of Street Photography in Filmmaker Magazine

Mark Street

Mark Street, writer, filmmaker, and Assistant Professor of Film in the Visual Arts Program at Fordham, defends his craft in an article for Filmmaker Magazine: "In Defense of Street Photography in an iPhone Age."

“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.”

Read the full article at Filmmaker Magazine

Practicing Utopia

from fordham newsProfessor Calls for Return to Regional Planning’s Utopian Age 

2019 Urban Studies Senior Theses

2018 Urban Studies Senior Theses

2017 Urban Studies Senior Theses

2016 Urban Studies Senior Theses

2015 Urban Studies Senior Theses