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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.

Helping Harlem Stay Connected

Fordham Law Professor Olivier Sylvain

How will a new technological endeavor that brings affordable Web devices into residents’ homes through a community-based broadband network benefit residents of Harlem? Olivier Sylvain, associate professor of law at Fordham, and a team of lawyers, engineers, and entrepreneurs intend to find out.

The National Science Foundation has awarded Sylvain and his colleagues a $1 million grant over three years. The award is part of the NSF’s program for Smart and Connected Communities. The project aims to remedy the relatively low rates of broadband adoption and the deficit of advanced networked devices among Harlem residents.

Read more about Helping Harlem Stay Connected

Benjamin Barber

In Memoriam: Benjamin R. Barber

The Fordham community is saddened by the death of Benjamin R. Barber, the inaugural distinguished senior fellow at the University-wide Urban Consortium. Dr. Barber passed away on April 24. He was 77 years old.

A renowned international political theorist and an author of many groundbreaking books, Dr. Barber worked with the Fordham Urban Consortium to launch his brainchild, the Global Parliament of Mayors.

Read his obituary.

CDT Design Lab innovating for the UN

CDT UN Rapid Assessment

Housed in the Center for Digital Transformation at the Gabelli School of Business, the CDT Design Lab is a gathering point for Fordham students and faculty who are interested in changing the world through design and innovation that is grounded in academic research.

Founded in 2011 by RP Raghupathi, Fordham Professor of Information Systems, and IBM, the lab is currently leading 4 project teams as part of the United Nations Information and Communications Technology for Sustainable Development initiative.

Learn more about the CDT Design Lab.

The Justia Agenda takes Action on Human Rights and Social Justice

Tina Maschi

“From the time I walked into the correctional settings, I said there’s something wrong with this picture,” told Tina Maschi, Fordham professor at the Graduate School of Social Service, to Fordham News about her Be The Evidence Project.

It dawned on me that large-scale societal change is a long haul, and it takes a lot of organization and collective grassroots activism. But one thing that we have control over is how we think. Each one of us can change our outlook on current social issues.

BTEP is one part of Dr. Maschi's Justia Agenda mission: to build awareness and take action on human rights and social justice in everyday and professional practice. The Justia Agenda promotes social justice through self or project-sponsored activities, including: research, education, writing, social media, advocacy and art.

Learn more about Dr. Maschi's mission and projects at

Listen to Dr. Maschi on elder abuse in prisons on Fordham Conversations 90.7 WFUV:

Project TRUE partners NYC youth with Fordham, WCS, and NSF, at the Zoo

Jason Aloisio

Urban ecologist Jason Aloisio, PhD Biology Fordham University, coordinates Project TRUE for the Wildlife Conservation Society at the Bronx Zoo. Project TRUE is both a social science research study and a youth development program, funded by the National Science Foundation.

Each summer, select NYC High School juniors, in good academic standing, assist the zoo in the collection of large-scale ecological data describing the NYC ecosystem. In return, each Field Research Assistant receives a stipend, a MetroCard, and mentoring from Fordham graduate and undergraduate students, and WCS scientists like Dr. Aloisio.

The collaboration is important for science too, says Aloisio:

Diversity is a key concept in the field of ecology and has cascading effects on community structure and ecosystem function. Similarly, increased demographic diversity within the field of ecology has been argued to contribute positively to the productivity and objectivity of the scientific community.

Dr. Aloisio is currently preparing a manuscript that argues for "pre-college research immersive ecology programs," like Project TRUE, in urban areas, to extend the proven benefits of mentoring and research participation to underrepresented students in ecology.

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Nancy WacksteinNew York City Settlement Houses

Nancy Wackstein, the Graduate School of Social Service’s Director of Community Engagement & Partnerships, takes part in a documentary on Settlement Houses on WNET’s Treasures of New York program.

Benjamin BarberCan Cities Counter the Power of President-Elect Donald Trump?

In a new article for The Nation, Consortium Distinguished Fellow Benjamin Barber considers the voice of the city vs the President-Elect:

Global demographics are against him, as are American demographics; the reality of urbanization is against him; the mobility of peoples is against him; and the growing dysfunction of national sovereignty on an irreversibly interdependent planet is against him. In this world without borders, where no one nation can solve global problems alone and walls are not so much malevolent as irrelevant, the cosmopolitan voice is also history’s voice—reality’s voice—and a viable American voice, too.

Read the full story at The Nation

UrbanTOPIAS ConferenceUrbanTOPIAS Conference | Berlin

Fordham Professors Annika Hinze, Director of Urban Studies, and Rosemary Wakeman, Coordinator of University Urban Initiatives, discussed the future of Urban Studies at the UrbanTOPIAS conference held at the Center for Metropolitan Studies, Technical University Berlin.

The 5th Annual Conference of the International Graduate Research Program IGK Berlin-New York-Toronto: “The World in the City: Metropolitanism and Globalization from the 19th Century to the Present” included urban scholars and activists discussing the challenges of changing cities.

The 2016 conference explored the multiple forces of threats and anxieties that shape urban reality, the practices of resistance and adaptations to urban transformations, and investigated different perspectives on the urban future.

Who owns the city?Who Owns the City? Strengthening Democracy at City Level

Unenclosed spaces with an open and unrestricted access not only ‘refresh the soul of the city, but they also empower citizens’, states American political scientist Benjamin Barber in his book If Mayors Ruled the World (2016).

Having stressed that cities lose their citiness when their inhabitants are deprived of their right to the city, the ’Urban Commons’ phenomenon appears as a progressive way to address inclusive, collective ownership as well as introduce democratic renewal.

Urban Commons has been formulated by, among others, Sheila Foster, professor of Real Estate, Land Use and Property Law at Fordham University New York, and Christian Iaione, professor of Public Law and Government Economic Regulation at Guglielmo Marconi University of Rome. The commons in a city could be tangible as well as intangible goods and resources. That means it could be digital goods, knowledge, and culture, but it also refers to environmental and urban commons, such as squares, parks, waters, buildings, street paths, vacant lots, cultural institutions, and other urban infrastructure private or public units.

Read the full story at Changemaker

"The Co-City: From the Tragedy to the Comedy of the Urban Commons" by Sheila Foster at The Nature of Cities blog.

Mark StreetMark Street Defends the Art of Street Photography in Filmmaker Magazine

Mark Street, writer, filmmaker, and Assistant Professor of Film in the Visual Arts Program at Fordham, defends his craft in a new 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

Mark Street FilmsLima Limpia (2014)

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Mark NaisonNew Book Captures Spirit of the Bronx at its Best

The publication this week of Before the Fires: An Oral History of African American Life in the Bronx from the 1930s to the 1960s (Fordham University Press, 2016), brings to fruition a project that began 14 years ago with interviews of South Bronx residents about life in the borough before the dramatic declines of the 1970s.

The book, co-edited by Mark Naison, Ph.D., professor of African and African American studies, and Bronx resident Bob Gumbs, features 17 edited and condensed interviews that were chosen from among 300 conducted as part of the Bronx African American History Project.

“If you’re going to have an oral history, you want something told in a way that’s going to capture people’s attention,” he said.

Naison said he and Gumbs managed to cull from the 300 interviews the ones that feature the best storytellers.

Before The Fire

Taken as a whole, said Naision, the stories counter perceptions of the Bronx’s past as a hellish, fire-ridden borough overcome with drugs, crime, violence, and family decay. He said the interviews also form a blueprint for a successful community that’s marked in particular by decent housing, good schools, and an unusual openness (for the times) to racial integration, as black families moved to the area from Harlem.

Read the story at Fordham News

Michael PetersYale Professor Michael Peters presents “Cheap Industrial Workers and the Big Push: Evidence from Germany’s post-war population transfer”

Yale Professor Michael Peters examines the development impacts of one of the 20th Century’s largest population transfers.

After WWII more than 8 million Germans were transferred to Western Germany from the Eastern provinces. Data from the 1960s and 70s shows that East German refugees experienced substantial reallocation into unskilled occupations. This illustrates how firms respond to large changes in labor supply. “In the short-run, falling wages induce firms to substitute towards the abundant factor. In the long-run however, firms’ labor demand will depend on their technological adoption decisions. If firms’ technological choices are affected by the labor supply they face, labor supply shifts will induce movements in aggregate labor demand… this reasoning is at the heart of the literature on endogenous technological bias (Acemoglu, 2007).”

Read the preliminary draft of the paper

J. Alan Clark, Sheila Foster, and Roger PanettaIs a Livable Urban Environment For All Possible?

The humanities and sciences came together as the New York Botanical Garden's Humanities Institute hosted Ethical Spaces: Landscapes and Environmental Law, a colloquium featuring three Fordham professors.

Promoting innovative thinking about the rapidly urbanizing world we live in, the discussion centered on land, law, and ecology, focusing on the four classic elements—air, earth, fire, and water. Featuring three experts from Fordham University, the discourse ranged from bird migration (air) to legal ramifications of land ownership and social vulnerability (earth, fire) and the many challenges facing New York City’s waterfronts (water).

J. Alan Clark, Ph.D., JD, Associate Professor, Program Coordinator—Conservation Biology, of the Department of Biological Sciences, Fordham University, spoke about Bird Migration through Urban Landscapes. Clark explained how many migratory bird species are in serious decline, and understanding how birds navigate increasingly large, brightly lit, and noisy urban landscapes is essential to their conservation.

Sheila Foster University Professor; Albert A. Walsh Professor of Law; Faculty Co-Director, Fordham Urban Law Center, spoke about The City as a Common Good. “Much like the natural environment, the urban environment is subject to disproportionate consumption, through economic and cultural domination of its resources—depriving the less well-off of many goods necessary to survive and thrive,“ Foster explained.

Roger Panetta, Visiting Professor of History at Fordham, asked “Whose Waterfront?” in a discussion of issues relating to the reconstruction of the Brooklyn waterfront, an example of the newly appreciated relationship of the city and its waterways. “Maritime New York has been rediscovered as the intellectual and cultural underpinning for the radical transformation of the city’s waterfront,“ Roger Panetta explained.

Read more at Fordham News

Practicing UtopiaRosemary Wakeman's Practicing Utopia released

Practicing Utopia: An Intellectual History of the New Town Movement
University of Chicago Press (April, 2016)

In Practicing Utopia, Rosemary Wakeman, Professor of History and Director of the Urban Studies program, gives a sweeping view of the new town movement as a global phenomenon. From Tapiola in Finland to Islamabad in Pakistan, Cergy-Pontoise in France to Irvine in California, Wakeman unspools a masterly account of the golden age of new towns, exploring their utopian qualities and investigating what these towns can tell us about contemporary modernization and urban planning.

Fordham News: Professor Calls for Return to Regional Planning’s Utopian Age

Read more about Practicing Utopia at The University of Chicago Press Books.

Annika HinzeAnnika Hinze Becomes Non-resident Fellow for Global Cities

Annika Hinze, Assistant Professor of Political Science, joins the Chicago Council on Global Affairs as a non-resident Fellow for Global Cities. The Council’s Global Cities program is one of the most visible and fastest-growing research initiatives on global cities in the United States. The Chicago Council on Global Affairs is ranked as the #1 Think Tank To Watch by the University of Pennsylvania's Think Tank Watch Rating for 2016 (PDF). Professor Hinze was honored for her work on comparative politics, globalization, and immigrant integration.

Annika M. Hinze is the author of Turkish Berlin: Integration Policy and Urban Space (2013)

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MaryAnne GilmartinInaugural Fordham Initiative in Real Estate (FIRE) Presentation

Sponsored by Sciame Construction, LLC

Please join Nestor Davidson, JD, Associate Dean of Fordham Law School, the Reverend Robert Grimes, SJ, Ph.D., Dean of Fordham College at Lincoln Center, Maura Mast, Ph.D., Dean of Fordham College at Rose Hill, and Donna Rapaccioli, Ph.D., Dean of the Gabelli School of Business for the Inaugural Fordham Initiative in Real Estate (FIRE) Presentation featuring MaryAnn Gilmartin, President and CEO of Forest City Ratner Companies.

Sheila FosterThe City as a Common Good
Sheila Foster

The Reverend Joseph M. McShane, SJ, President of Fordham University, and Matthew Diller, Dean of Fordham Law School, are pleased to announce the appointment of Sheila Foster as a University Professor and request the pleasure of your company at her inaugural lecture.

Announcing Center on Race Law and JusticeLaunch of the Center on Race, Law and Justice

Fordham Law announced the Center of Race, Law and Justice with Robin A. Lenhardt, Faculty Director, and a panel discussion featuring Christina Greer, Associate Professor of Political Science, Tanya Hernandez, Associate Director and Professor of Law, Kimani Paul-Emile, Associate Director and Associate Professor of Law, Clara E. Rodriguez, Professor of Sociology, and Olivier Sylvain, Associate Professor of Law. WilmerHale Partner Debo Adegbile, former Acting President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, delivered the keynote address.

Greg LindsayThe Legacy of Jane Jacobs

A Conversation with Greg Lindsay and William Easterly

Urban Studies Distinguished Visitor Series 2016

Greg Lindsay is a journalist, urbanist, futurist, and speaker. He has been cited as an expert on the future of travel, technology and urbanism by The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, USA Today, CNN, NPR, and the BBC. He has advised Intel, Audi, Ericsson, Samsung, André Balazs Properties, and Chrysler, among other organizations. He is a contributing writer for Fast Company, author of the forthcoming book Engineering Serendipity, and co-author of Aerotropolis: The Way We’ll Live Next.

William Easterly

William Easterly is Professor of Economics at New York University and Co-director of the NYU Development Research Institute, which won the 2009 BBVA Frontiers of Knowledge in Development Cooperation Award. He is the author of three books: The Tyranny of Experts: Economists, Dictators, and the Forgotten Rights of the Poor (March 2014), The White Man’s Burden: Why the West’s Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Harm and So Little Good (2006), which won the FA Hayek Award from the Manhattan Institute, and The Elusive Quest for Growth: Economists’ Adventures and Misadventures in the Tropics (2001).

Read more about the Conversation with Greg Lindsay and William Easterly.

This event is made possible with the generous support of
Podell, Schwartz, Schechter & Banfield LLP.

Benjamin BarberUrban Consortium Press Conference with Mayor Jozias van Aartsen of The Hague and Dr. Benjamin Barber on Global Parliament of Mayors Project

The Global Parliament of Mayors is an unprecedented new experiment in democratic global governance platform by, for, and of cities. Mayors from cities large and small, North and South, developed and emerging, will convene in September 2016 to identify and pursue in common the public goods of citizens around the world. For the first time, building on extant urban networks, the GPM will deploy collective urban political power manifesting the right of cities to govern themselves, as well as the responsibility to enact viable, cross-border solutions to global challenges.

Read more about the Press Conference.

Watch video of the event.

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Migrant workersMigrant workers and labour recruitment in Mexico

Jennifer Gordon wrote a piece for Open Democracy about the Coalition of Temporary Workers, a Mexico-based initiative that implements collective efforts to advance and protect the rights of temporary migrant workers.

Labour migrants, like all of us, are complex human beings who make difficult choices regarding their available options, yet strategies to end trafficking and coercive migrant labour practices rarely take migrant agency into account. Such initiatives regularly involve advocates, corporations, governments, and consumers – everyone but the workers themselves, who are deemed hapless victims.

Read the story at

Nestor DavidsonNestor Davidson Among Most Cited Property Law Professors

Nestor Davidson has been included in a list of the most cited property law professors, according to PropertyProf Blog. Davidson, who serves as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Professor of Law, and Faculty Co-Director of the Fordham Urban Law Center, was listed as the 15th most cited property scholar overall and the 5th most cited property scholar under the age of 50.

His two most cited articles are Standardization and Pluralism in Property Law and The Problem of Equality in Takings.

Bronx River House concept drawingKiss + Cathcart Bronx River House to open in the spring

A new building will give residents and visitors a new way to interact with natural life in the Bronx.

The Bronx River Greenway River House is the base of operations for the restoration and operation of the Bronx River Greenway and the adjacent portion of the Bronx River. The Bronx River Alliance will occupy the building and manage it on behalf of the Park and public and community groups. The architectural firm of Gregory Kiss and Colin Cathcart received a 2008 Design Award from the Art Commission of the City of New York for their Bronx River House design.

Bright city lights at nightBright Laws, Big Cities

Much of the world population is migrating to urban areas. Fordham is helping the law make a similar move.

Revolutionaries in Bologna, Italy, have wrested parts of the city from government hands. An incendiary revolt? Not exactly. Residents are sharing responsibility with the city for overseeing a public square, a portion of Bologna’s famous portico network, and a public building. Make no mistake, though, it’s still a revolution: a new approach to urban management empowered by the Bologna Regulation on Public Collaboration for Urban Commons.

Bronx Summit 2015The 4th Annual Bronx Summit on Technology Innovation and Start Ups

Presented by Fordham University Gabelli School of Business Center for Digital Transformation in partnership with Urban Studies Program and Urban Law Center & Bronx Technology Innovation Coalition.

The Bronx presents great opportunities for technology-based innovation and start up activity and the support of small businesses with digital information & communication technologies. The presence of higher education institutions, health care entities including hospitals and medical colleges, the Botanical Garden, the Bronx Zoo and other government and non-profit agencies makes it attractive to consider the Bronx for entrepreneurial and business support activities.

Vojislava Filipcevic Cordes Joins Consortium as Research Associate for Distinguished Senior Fellow Benjamin Barber

Vojislava Filipcevic Cordes

Vojislava Cordes holds a Ph.D. in Urban Planning from Columbia University, and was the 2010-2011 Paul E. Raether Postdoctoral Fellow in Urban and Global Studies at Trinity College. Her co-work on the Brooklyn community-based "Greenpoint 197-a Plan" was awarded the 2002 William H. Whyte Award for Creativity in Planning. Cordes has published in Culture, Theory and Critique, the Columbia Journal of American Studies, and Film Criticism.

Dr. Cordes is currently researching city sovereignty.

The "Urban Question" is Now at the Center of Intellectual Life

Rosemary Wakeman

In a new interview with Global Urban, Rosemary Wakeman, Coordinator of Urban Initiatives and Professor of History at Fordham, discusses the intersection between global history and urban history.

The city is the locus for a wide range of philosophies and ideas, policy innovation, models, architectural and design concepts, and heritage narratives. All of it indicates the degree to which the vast, complex urban fabric in which we live has become THE arena of the imagination. This is all fantastic, but where does this abundance of interest leave urban history as an intellectual endeavor?

Read the full interview at

What would coherent urban wildlife management include?

Jason Munshi-South

Fordham biologist Jason Munshi-South responds to the death of a white-tailed deer in Harlem in a New York Daily News article, "Love the deer, fear the coyotes?"

Raccoons, skunks, possums, groundhogs, turkeys, hawks and a plethora of less conspicuous species have also carved out an existence in the city. The success of these animals within the five boroughs is cause for celebration as indicators of our improving environment. It’s pure bunk to think that cities should only be safe for dogs, cats, rats, pigeons and squirrels.

"We need to step back," writes Munshi-South, "see the challenge clearly and develop a sane plan for our complicated new reality."

Read the article at

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 at Fordham News