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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.

Orthodox Jews raise $1.5M for Jersey City grocery

Ari Feldman - Jewish deli story


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

The Barnard Student Murder and the Central Park Five

Barnard Murder podcast

from wnyc—the brian lehrer show: 

The co-hosts of the New York politics podcast “FAQ NYC,” Christina Greer, associate professor of political science at Fordham University, and Harry Siegel, New York Daily News columnist and Daily Beast senior editor, discuss how NYC institutions, from the NYPD to media news outlets, will approach the murder of Barnard College freshman Tessa Majors, the circumstances of which echo other past high-profile murder cases that were decades later revealed as poorly handled.

Listen to the podcast at WYNC—The Brian Lehrer Show.

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.

Read the reports

Learn more about the event

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.  continue . . .
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).  continue . . .
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.

Fordham University Buys Development Site

619 Fordham Rd

from the observer: 

Fordham University purchased a 5,000-square-foot building for $4,400,000 on Nov. 25. The building, which currently operates as a warehouse, is located at 619 E. Fordham Rd., just a few steps away from the Rose Hill campus in the Bronx.


Jill Rice/The Observer

Read the full article by Sophie Partridge-Hicks at The Observer.

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: 

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.

Cultured Meat: Present and Future Considerations

Critically Speaking logo

New podcast with Garrett Broad at Critically Speaking or Apple Podcasts:

from critically speaking:

Garrett Broad is an Assistant Professor of Communication and Media Studies at Fordham University and the author of More Than Just Food: Food Justice and Community Change. His research investigates the role of storytelling and communication technology in promoting networked movements for social justice. Much of his work focuses on local and global food systems, as he explores how food can best contribute to improved neighborhood health, environmental sustainability, and the rights and welfare of animals.

In this episode, Therese Markow and Dr. Garrett Broad discuss the emerging culture around cellular meat and the changing space for this product in the marketplace. Therese and Dr. Broad discuss how the animal cells are acquired, the process of growing the “meat" in a lab, and the types of products currently, and possibly in the future, grown in laboratories. They also discuss how food activists can make beneficial impacts on food justice and food sovereignty and change "food deserts" or "food swamps” and the communities in which they are embedded.

Fordham icon Research

Bloomberg as Candidate

from youtube:

Fordham University Associated Professor of Political Science Christina Greer talks about Mike Bloomberg as presidential candidate with Pat Kiernan of NY1.

Civil Liberties in Cyberspace

Olivier Sylvain

from fordham law news: 

On October 23, 2019, Fordham Law School hosted a packed room of students to hear University of California, Berkeley Law Professor Pam Samuelson, the Distinguished Bacon-Kilkenny Visiting Professor of Law at Fordham, talk about “Challenges to Civil Liberties in Cyberspace.” Professor Olivier Sylvain moderated the discussion in which Professor Samuelson explored a wide range of information law issues, including the evolution of digital copyright law, privacy issues, and the First Amendment.

Both professors also spoke about privacy and data protection. The subject is particularly timely given recent congressional hearings involving Facebook and other social media companies.

Professors Samuelson and Sylvain noted the major differences between the U.S. and the European Union’s approach to privacy protections.

“The U.S. also has a relatively recent and long tradition of systematic privacy invasion,” said Sylvain. Unlike Europe, however, “laws here were in the service of racial subordination through slavery, Jim Crow, and segregation. Civil rights groups like the NAACP and the ACLU brought free speech and freedom of association cases on behalf of activists who had been surveilled by the Department of Justice, as well as state and local police,” Sylvain said.

Read the full article by Anni Irish at Fordham Law News.

Fordham icon Research

Empirical Evidence in the Administration of Family Law

colorful swings

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.

Read the full report by Meghan Downey at Penn Law's The Regulatory Review.

Fordham Strengthens Identity as Changemaker Campus

AshokaU Changemaker logo

from fordham news: 

“Five years after Fordham joined the AshokaU network of schools committed to changing the world through social innovation, the University has been lauded for its efforts and had its designation as a “Changemaker Campus” renewed. Forty-five other colleges and universities around the world are part of AshokaU, a global organization that honors universities for innovative efforts to foster social good and strengthen society.”

The Faculty Advisory Board of Fordham's Social Innovation Collaboratory include Consortium members Professor of Communication and Media Studies Garrett Broad, Professor of Law Nestor Davidson, and Associate Professor of Economics Subha Mani.

Read the full article by Patrick Verel at Fordham News.

New Queens challengers

Christina Greer

from the city: 

“A long roster of progressive political newcomers is targeting Queens incumbents in local and national races — setting off primaries next year for some elected officials who’ve run unopposed for years.”
“Given gentrification and “shifting patterns of migration,” it’s natural that a crop of challengers are springing up in Queens, said Christina Greer, a Fordham University political science professor.

Gentrifiers are in a “higher economic class, tend to vote more and tend to demand things that community members have gotten used to not having,” she said.”

Read the full article at

Why a Ghent-like system is needed in the US

Jennifer Gordon

from the center for american 

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

Anti-discrimination and health law

Kimani Paul-Emile

from the american medical association: 

Incidents of identity-based patient bias are disturbing for all health professionals, but they can present especially intense challenges for physicians in training due to the number of patient interactions they experience. Kimani Paul-Emile, PhD, professor at Fordham University School of Law, recommends an approach to helping colleagues during a real-time discrimination incident and addressing discrimination organization-wide.

“Despite the startling statistics regarding patients’ treatment of trainees, data and overwhelming anecdotal evidence show that organizations are not adequately supporting their trainees in dealing with these abusive patient encounters. Indeed, 50% of surveyed residents who experienced or witnessed patient discrimination didn’t know how to respond, while 25% believed that nothing would be done if hospital leadership were notified.”

Read "5 ways to support medical residents facing patient discrimination" at

Should NYC reconsider term limits?

Bruce Berg

from city and state new york “Ask the Experts”:

Does allowing former members to run again after a hiatus contradict the purpose of term limits?

Bruce Berg, professor of political science at Fordham University: The primary goals of New York City’s term limits law were to bring fresh faces and ideas to the City Council and to decrease the role of professional politicians in local policy making. Allowing former council members to run again, even after a break, does appear to contradict the goals of term limits. Looking at recent City Council elections, however, many of the newly elected council members replacing the term limited council members have been former council staff, family members, or individuals who have already served in elective office at the state level. They are just as much professional politicians as those whom they replaced. So the goals of term limits have not been well served by its current iteration. Professional politicians are still being elected to the council, even if they are not incumbent council members. As a result, allowing former council members to run again, after a break, would not change, or harm, the workings of the council in any significant way.

Read “Ask the Experts” at

The Confederate Statues’ Ruling

Robert E. Lee statue

from fordham news: Law Professor Nestor Davidson joined host Craig Williams and fellow commentator, Professor Richard Schragger, on Lawyer 2 Lawyer to discuss the ruling and controversy over the removal of Confederate statues and what is next in this legal fight.

“There are important statutory issues. I think the equal protection question is an important one, and whether this ends at the Virginia Supreme Court or ultimately goes up to the U.S. Supreme Court will largely turn on whether this case is decided as a matter of Virginia law both under the statute and questions of legislative immunity which we typically decided as a question of state law. I think if the case is resolved in a way that rests on those Virginia grounds, we’ll see it end at the Virginia Supreme Court, if it goes that far, and I tend to suspect that it will given how Judge Moore has ruled. I don’t think the city is going to let that ruling stand, or at least they are going to I assume pursue an appeal but the federal constitutional question such as the equal protection defense, which really goes in many ways to the heart of the conflict about what these statues mean and who gets to speak for the community, raises important federal constitutional questions.”

Listen to the podcast on the Legal Talk Network's Lawyer 2 Lawyer :

Gentrification in New York

Strassenzug im Harlem

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:

Sixth Annual International and Comparative Urban Law Conference

Sydney Urban Law Conference 2019

This event happened on July 11–12, 2019
University of New South Wales Law School Sydney, Australia

Since 2014, the Urban Law Center's annual Conference has welcomed leading scholars from a range of urban law perspectives to present their research. Now in its sixth year, the Conference will build on this tradition, again providing a dynamic forum for legal scholars from around the globe to share diverse international, comparative, and interdisciplinary perspectives on the intersection of cities and law.

Recent Papers