Fordham Urban Consortium
Faculty and students from all disciplines across Fordham engage in research on historical and contemporary urbanization, its challenges and opportunities for the 21st century.
The Urban Consortium at Fordham University organizes and sponsors programs and events that highlight contemporary urban issues. It focuses on engaged, interdisciplinary urban research by graduate students and faculty.
gregory t. donovan
Canaries in the Data Mine
Understanding the Proprietary Design of Youth Environments
October 22, 2020
from the publisher:
Canaries in the Data Mine offers an account of the lived experiences and cultural expectations of young people growing up in digital environments increasingly owned by others and designed for profit. At the book’s core is a participatory research project that first interviewed New York City teens about their digital habits and then engaged a group of five young people in designing the prototypical platform of their time: a social network.
In this engaging book, Gregory T. Donovan penetrates beyond the interface to consider the digital geography of contemporary youth, arguing that understanding what young people are grappling with portends what is, or will soon be, felt by society at large. Drawing from in-depth interviews and design workshops, he shows how informational capitalism is reproduced at an intimate scale as well as how involving young people in digital design can foster capacities for reworking and resisting the conditions of a rising rentier society.
Also recently published by Gregory T. Donovan:
• “Minor Data: Reading the ‘Smart’ City Through Engaged Pedagogy,” in Critical Reading Across the Curriculum, Volume II: Social and Natural Sciences (eds. Robert J. Diyanni and Anton Borst), Wiley-Blackwell, 2020.
Spring 2021 Virtual Events
2/26 Friday 10 a.m. – 2:45 p.m.
fordham urban law journal spring symposium 2021
A Taxing War on Poverty: Opportunity Zones and the Promise of Investment and Economic Development
Following the 2008 Great Recession, general economic uncertainty and anxiety enveloped the United States but was more acutely felt in specific pockets of the nation. Severely distressed areas across the country suffered from severe unemployment, low levels of and declines in public investment, and the lack of infrastructural improvements and access to private capital. The seemingly localized adverse effects ultimately spilled over into the national economy. Responding to this economic despair, Congress believed it drafted a provision to remedy the uneven economic recovery in the United States: Opportunity Zones (OZs). These are low-income census tracts that lure private investment through private opportunity zone funds (OZFs), which reward investors with tax deferrals, reductions, and exclusions. Since its inception, states have designated nearly 9,000 OZs across the nation in hopes of bringing economic growth to “blighted” areas. Alongside professors, attorneys, scholars, economists, investors, and advocates, the Symposium will explore what OZs are, the reasons for persistent gaps in access to capital in distressed areas, private-sector investment motivations, and the misnomers and shortcomings of OZs, as well as the possibilities of equitable or sustainable economic development.
• also, 3/16 columbia gsapp lectures in planning series, “Opportunity Zones: A Baseline Evaluation in West Baltimore”
3/4 Thursday 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
fordham environmental law review symposium 2021
Urban Climate Change and the Law
panel 1: cities and climate change
Outlining roles played by the laws & policies of cities and other municipalities in addressing the unique calamities faced by urban populations.
- Extreme Weather Events
- Heat Island Effect
panel 2: cities, climate justice, and the law
Discussing the role of policymakers and practicing attorneys in ensuring that principles of environmental justice guide governmental action relating to the environment.
- Vulnerable Populations
- The Unequal Cost Of Environmental Protection
panel 3: adaptation and resilience
Exploring what the future could look like for cities and urban populations regarding climate change, examining the role of policymakers and lawyers in creating that future.
- Urban Land Use Law
- Urban Adaptation And Resilience To Climate Change
- How Can Emerging Technologies Reduce A City’s Environmental Impact?
2/12 Friday, 10 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
fordham international law journal symposium 2021
Black Lives Matter Around the Globe: A Symposium Focused on Racial and Ethnic Discrimination Abroad
In the wake of the 2020 Black Lives Matters protests in the United States, the 2021 Fordham International Law Journal Symposium topic will focus on the manifestation of the Black Lives Matter movement and the issue of racial and ethnic discrimination around the globe. Panelists will include judges, scholars, and activists within and outside of the Fordham community well versed in civil and human rights issues in an international context. Conversation will surround an identification of the particular issues in jurisdictions outside of the United States as well as ongoing proposed solutions.
1/28 Thursday 12:30 p.m.
fordham law speaker series 2021
Supercharging Environmental Justice in Crisis Times
Hayley Gorenberg is the Legal Director of NYLPI, where she guides the organization’s litigation and advocacy. Before joining NYLPI in 2018, Hayley was General Counsel and Deputy Legal Director of the national civil rights organization Lambda Legal, where she litigated landmark cases advancing the rights of LGBTQ people, including a range of pathbreaking matters involving disability rights, health access and discrimination against marginalized communities. Prior to that she ran a citywide task force at Legal Services for New York City, creating legal advocacy campaigns and training other lawyers and advocates to achieve high-impact results for low-income New Yorkers living with HIV. Hayley was named 2017 OUTLaw Alumna of the Year by New York University School of Law and received a 2018 Forger Award from the American Bar Association for “sustained excellence” advocating for the rights of people living with HIV. She has served as a Wasserstein Public Interest Fellow at Harvard and sits on Princeton University’s Gender and Sexuality Studies Advisory Council and the New York State Council on Women and Girls. Hayley earned her undergraduate degree from Princeton University, her law degree from New York University School of Law, and a certificate in change leadership from Cornell University.
Learn more about the A2J Initiative at Fordham Law.
At a Glance: Preemption and the Pandemic
The Local Solutions Support Center (LSSC) is a national hub that coordinates and creates efforts to counter the abuse of preemption“Preemption occurs when a higher level of government (such as a state legislature) restricts or withdraws the authority of a lower level of government (such as a city council) to act on a particular issue.” (supportdemocracy.org) and strengthen local democracy.
“There has already been significant differences between state and local governments over the imposition of mandatory shelter in place orders, the need for social distancing and the definition of “essential” and “non-essential” businesses and workers. And now we are seeing similar conflicts over the easing of these public health restrictions and the reopening of businesses.
This resource takes a look at how states and cities are responding to the pandemic.”
- Can Local Emergency Authority Provide a Basis for Local COVID-19 Policy When State Law Otherwise Preempts? (PDF)
Fordham Urban Law Journal Hosts 14th Annual Cooper-Walsh Colloquium
from fordham law news:
On October 16, the Fordham Urban Law Journal hosted its annual Cooper Walsh Colloquium, and this year’s theme was particularly timely: “The Impact of Financial Crisis on Urban Environments: Past, Present, and Future.” The event brought together scholars of law, urban studies, economics, and sociology for four panel discussions.
Read the full article by Julia Brodsky at Fordham Law News.
Urban Law Day Roundtable Discussion
Law and the New Urban Agenda in the Current Crisis
This event happened on October 6, 2020
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:
- Nestor M. Davidson, Fordham University School of Law
- Geeta Tewari, Widener University, Delaware Law School
scheduled panelists include:
- Elena De Nictolis, Luiss University, LabGov.City
- Chritian Iaione, Luiss University — Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence and Digital Innovation Law Lab
- Maria Mousmouti, Institute of Advanced Legal Studies
- Marius Pieterse, School of Law at the University of the Witwatersrand
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.
Operate at a lower density and institute social distancing standards in all facilities
Undertake enhanced cleaning measures
Require the use of appropriate personal protective equipment
Employ mandatory universal testing and daily health screening to monitor, trace, and isolate potential infections
Educate around behaviors that ensure the health and safety of students, employees, and our local community
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.
Law And The New Urban Agenda
20% Discount: code BSE20
The Urban Law Center's newest volume, Law and the New Urban Agenda, is available now.
Given COVID-19’s impact on cities globally, it is more important than ever to highlight the significance of urban law and policy for students. This new book offers a constructive and critical valuation of the legal dimensions of the U.N.’s New Urban Agenda (NUA), adopted at the 2016 United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development to foster a globally shared understanding of the vital link between urbanization and a sustainable future. A myriad of legal challenges – and opportunities – stand between the NUA and its goals. Examining case studies from natural disasters and resulting urban migration in Honshu and Tacloban, to innovative collaborative governance in Barcelona and Turin, to the accessibility of public space for informal workers in New Delhi and Accra, and power scales among Brazil’s metropolitan regions, the contributions in this new book frame an important academic dialogue about the legal dimensions of the NUA, all of which will be of interest to scholars across the range of urban studies.
Law and the New Urban Agenda underscores the value of urban law as a discipline in supporting the healthy development of inclusive cities for all. This timely volume sheds light on the many complex challenges that urban growth poses for legal systems around the globe, and I commend this eclectic group of scholars for their engagement with the New Urban Agenda. – Maimunah Mohd Sharif, Executive Director, UN-Habitat
Pre-order Law And The New Urban Agenda.
Cities in a Changing World: Questions of Culture, Climate and Design
AMPS Conference 2021
June 16–18, 2021
Virtual / New York. City Tech, CUNY
The premise of this conference is that the city is a site of interconnected problems. No single issue dominates its needs. No single discipline has the answers to its questions. As a result, the range of issues we deal with is vast. Urban designers are developing new models of settlement planning to address housing needs. Architects are renovating ever more existing buildings. Infrastructure designers are developing faster modes of transportation. Planners are demanding lower C02 emissions from industry. Health professionals are rethinking movement in the city. Policy makers are addressing grass-roots demands for regional governance.
In looking at the city as a site of such inherent interdisciplinarity, the conference venue offers insights. New York is a city of over 8 million people. It has an affordable housing problem, . . . is threatened by rising sea levels, . . . is the site for the United States’ most iconic historic buildings, . . . is at the forefront of the healthy city agenda today, . . . knows the pressures of displacement and migration, . . . is a city for the wealthiest elites in the world, . . . exhibits poverty, social exclusion and periodic cultural tensions.
In this place, as in cities the world over, none of the issues that vex the metropolis are isolated, and none of their factors, consequences or responses are limited to single disciplines.
March 30, 2021: Abstract Submission Form (DOCX).
Why biotech’s goal should not be to feed the world
Tuan Anh Tran | Unsplash
Biotechnology is on the precipice of changing our world forever. Using solutions always there in biology and optimizing them with technology, biotech promises to solve global issues such as carbon emissions, plastic and chemical pollution, and, of course, feeding a booming population. But to really solve the issue of food, the industry needs to revolutionize more than just biology or technology. It needs to revolutionize the way it engages local cultures and economies.
“Food desert” — a term used to describe areas with limited access to affordable and nutritious food — is the label by which we’ve come to describe food accessibility today. But the term is a bit of a misnomer, says Garrett Broad, author of More Than Just Food.
“It suggests there’s nothing there — and if food deserts are the problem, the solution sounds pretty simple: just bring [stuff] to the desert.”
But is there really nothing there? Continues Broad,
“the problem isn’t food deserts [per se], the problem is really a legacy and generational disinvestment in and direct discrimination in not just food but in a variety of other arenas. [This] calls for a broader set of solutions.”
Read the full article by Embriette Hyde at synbiobeta.com.
Talking Section 230 with Olivier Sylvain
Janet Sassi | Fordham News
“In a nutshell, Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act protects digital platforms and services from legal liability for what is posted on their networks by users.”
“Congress wrote the statute in the mid-1990s to faciliate innovation among early web and application developers. Legislators were most interested in promoting applications that facilitated user-generated content especially—like newsgroups or open online markets like Craigslist.
Things are far different over 20 years later. Today, the most effective online companies administer sophisticated services that, on the one hand, collect user information for the purposes of secondary markets for user data (think advertisers and data brokers) and, on the other hand, engineer so much of the user experience (think News Feeds, Trends, etc). Online intermediaries are the architects of our online experiences.”
Read the full conversation with Mathew Ingram and Olivier Sylvain at Galley by CJR.
Reform Home Rule To Protect Cities From State Interference
“We are at a moment of great urgency for local democracy. Our cities drive the global economy, with the nation’s 10 most productive metro areas alone generating a record $7.2 trillion in economic output in 2018 — more than the economies of 38 states combined.
But a critical factor determining whether they succeed is the basic structure of their legal authority. And that authority — home rule — is woefully out of date.
That’s why the National League of Cities and the Local Solutions Support Center launched a new vision for home rule: "Principles of Home Rule for the 21st Century" (PDF).
Our problems are serious, complex and deeply worrying. If we don’t seize this moment for reform, states will continue to weaken the power of cities, undermine the agency of the four out of five of us who live in cities, chill innovation in local governments and block solutions to some of our most pressing challenges — climate change, growing inequities, community safety and environmental conditions.”
- Cities must have the full breadth of legal authority necessary to govern in a rapidly changing world.
- Cities need protected fiscal authority with affirmative support from the states.
- States must exercise oversight with a greater respect for local communities whose democratic choices they are displacing.
- Home rule must protect the core of local democracy, barring the targeted attacks that are becoming a hallmark of preemption.
Prof. Kimani Paul-Emile Appointed Law and Public Affairs Fellow at Princeton University
from fordham law news:
Professor Kimani Paul-Emile has been named a 2020–2021 fellow in Princeton University’s Program in Law and Public Affairs (LAPA). Paul-Emile is Associate Director and Head of Domestic Programs and Initiatives at Fordham Law School’s Center on Race, Law & Justice and Faculty Co-Director of the Stein Center for Law & Ethics. She specializes in the areas of law and biomedical ethics, health law, anti-discrimination law, and race and the law. Paul-Emile will spend her LAPA fellowship working on a book project, tentatively titled Americans on Drugs: Six Drugs, Three Regimes, and the Making of the American Drug User.
Read the full article by Erin DeGregorio at Fordham Law News.
Fordham Law School Launches Real Estate Degree
from the observer:
Fordham School of Law will be the first law school in New York City and one of only six universities nationwide to offer a Master of Laws (LL.M.) degree in real estate. The 24-credit LL.M. course will take an academic year and is “intended for attorneys looking to deepen their understanding of real estate law or to open up new career opportunities in real estate,” according to Fordham’s website.
Nestor Davidson, faculty director of the Fordham Urban Law Center and Albert A. Walsh chair in Real Estate, Land Use and Property Law, believes that there are many upsides to having a real estate master’s program situated in New York City.
“The fact that we are in the global capital of real estate makes a big difference. If you’re going to be learning about how the development process works in its most complex forms, how real estate intersects in global capital markets … you get a global perspective,” Davidson said.
Read the full article by Gus Dupree at The Observer.
East Ramapo trial: Are Hasidic Jews ‘white’?
In the East Ramapo trial, which began last week in White Plains, N.Y., lawyers for the NAACP have repeatedly tried to argue that this case is not about religion but about the effect of the voting system on blacks and Latinos. And they have, as lawyer David Butler pointed out, excised almost all references to Jews or the Orthodox community from much of their litigation documents.
One expert who has studied the East Ramapo district said that the NAACP’s legal team may be avoiding making their case about the growing Orthodox community for political reasons as well.
“If I were them, I would do what they’re doing, which is try to avoid the word ‘Jewish,’” said Aaron Saiger, a professor of law at Fordham University. “Litigation like this isn’t a purely legal matter—it occurs in a political context. The last thing anyone at the NAACP wants is to have the perception that this is about anti-Jewish animus of any kind.”
The district’s strategy, in response, has been to frame the situation as a conflict not between different ethnic groups, but two interest groups — those who send their children to private schools, and those who are in the public schools.
Read the full article by Ari Feldman at Forward.com.
120 Faculty Sign Petition to Support Students for Justice in Palestine
Andrew Beecher | The Observer
from the observer:
A diverse coalition of 120 Fordham faculty members have expressed their disapproval of Fordham’s continued legal battle with Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP).
On Thursday, Jan. 30, a faculty member emailed a petition to high ranking Fordham administration, urging them to rescind the university’s appeal of the August 2019 New York Supreme Court ruling that required the university to recognize Fordham Lincoln Center’s chapter of SJP.
Aseel Sawalha, associate professor of anthropology, co-director of Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies, and current faculty adviser to SJP, is the second signatory on the list and sent the email containing the petition to administrators.
“We teach critical thinking, open-mindedness and then the university does not tolerate a student organization advocating for social justice,” she said.
For many signatories, principle came before explicit support for the cause. “The faculty who signed the petition did not sign it because they are for SJP; they signed it because they disagree with the silencing of students on campus,” Sawalha said.
“It’s not a good message for free speech on campus. It will prevent students from doing something similar in the future,” Sawalha said. “We need to bridge the gap between the generations; between students and the administration.”
Read the full article by Owen Roche at The Observer.
How California is Redefining Rent Control
from fordham newsroom:
In a video for the Wall Street Journal, Professor Nestor Davidson shares his expert opinion on California’s new rent control law (03:27) — aimed at solving housing issues statewide — and what it could mean for national policy.
From Davidson (04:51):
“So if the question is, what’s the trajectory of this policy? I don’t think we’ve seen it play out fully. I think there’s a lot of energy from local government officials and tenants themselves, and I think that energy is actually going to increase. We’re in a housing crisis across the country. Although rent regulation and tenant protection isn’t the only solution to that crisis I think there’s a growing recognition that this is a policy area that’s garnering increasing support.”
Orthodox Jews raise $1.5M for Jersey City grocery
In just over a week, a crowdfunding campaign for the family of Mindel Ferencz, who was shot and killed in the Jersey City kosher grocery shooting, raised over $1.5 million, primarily from Orthodox and Hasidic donors.
The show of support has been remarkable even for the Hasidic world, in which the importance of charitable giving — especially to those who are in immediate need — is deeply ingrained. It is summed up in a Talmudic phrase quoted many times over the past week on the streets of Jersey City, and in phone calls to potential donors: “Kol yisrael arevim zeh bah-zeh,” which means “all of Israel is responsible for one another.” Now the complicated task of sharing the funds efficiently and fairly begins.
“There are many structures in place, and the social networks are activated easily and frequently,” said Ayala Fader, a professor of anthropology at Fordham University, who has researched Hasidic communities. The urgency of the fundraising is also thanks to a particularly strong connection that many Hasidic Jews feel to one another, even more so than to or among Jews in general. “It’s not so much that this could be you, but that this is you,” Fader said.
Read the full article by Ari Feldman at Forward.com.
Built Heritage special issue on Shanghai
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.
Empirical Evidence in the Administration of Family Law
from the regulatory review :
“Each year, reports of alleged abuse and neglect of nearly 7.5 million children reach local child welfare agencies across the United States. With so many reports, agencies need to determine which require an urgent response. Many child welfare agencies are turning to empirical evidence to help triage these cases.
“In a recent paper, Clare Huntington, a law professor at Fordham University, acknowledges that empirical evidence—especially the use of predictive analytics—can improve child welfare policies and practices. But she argues that empirical data must be used with great caution.”
Even when empirical evidence is relevant, decisionmakers must be cautious about how they use it. To guide this nuance, this Essay’s framework calls for more effective gatekeeping mechanisms across the institutions of family law. It warns decisionmakers to be attentive to the potential for empirical evidence to reflect and refract the legal salience of intersecting identities, including race, gender, and class. And the framework encourages a robust role for legal scholars to make empirical evidence accessible and comprehensible for those crafting legal rules and policies.
- Huntington, "The Empirical Turn in Family Law," Columbia Law Review 118, no. 1 (2018).
Read the full report by Meghan Downey at Penn Law's The Regulatory Review.
Why a Ghent-like system is needed in the US
from the center for american progress.org:
The Ghent system—an arrangement whereby trade unions help deliver government-supported unemployment insurance—exists in its truest form only in a handful of countries, including Sweden, Belgium, and Denmark. However, the United States has a number of Ghent-like policies where unions deliver or help people access governmental benefits—including workforce training, retirement benefits, and enforcement of workplace laws. Expanding upon these models would increase union membership and improve the quality of public programs in the United States.
In "Strengthening Labor Standards Enforcement Through Partnerships with Workers' Organizations" (Politics & Society, 2010), Fordham Professor of Law Jennifer Gordon and Janice Fine of Rutgers University argue that there is a mismatch between the enforcement strategies of most federal and state labor inspectorates and the industries in which noncompliance continues to be a problem. The authors propose augmenting labor inspectorates by giving public interest groups like unions and worker centers a formal, ongoing role in enforcement in low-wage sectors.
Under a Ghent-like co-enforcement model, government could complement its traditional enforcement activity by partnering with unions and worker organizations, Fine and Gordon have explained.
Read the full report at americanprogress.org.
Gentrification in New York
If you go out the door and are surrounded by smoothies and coffee roasters and the Craft Beer is served in jars for a great deal of money, you know this area has been thoroughly gentrified. This can be seen in Berlin as well as in New York at a glance.
New York is becoming more and more expensive, many can hardly afford the rent in the city and are repressed - and the protest against gentrification and repression has little chance. But how do the New Yorkers actually perceive it, when once rundown neighborhoods are upgraded and everything is getting more and more expensive?
Listen to the podcast with Associate Professor of Political Science Annika M. Hinze on Radiobrücke USA: