In the spotlight

Welcome New Editors

As announced in the January 2020 issue of UAR, we are pleased to welcome Phil Ashton, Joshua Drucker, and Yue Zhang as new Co-Editors of Urban Affairs Review. We deeply thank Antonio Tavares and Jill Tao, who have stepped down from their roles as Co-Editors. Both have been critical parts of our editorial team since 2014 and we are grateful for their enormous contributions to UAR. We are pleased to announce that they both will remain involved with the journal and have agreed to serve as the editors of our reestablished book review section (stay tuned for more news on that)! Read More
  • Kesicia Dickinson, Marty Jordan, Sarah Reckhow, and Joshua Sapotichne | On July 18, 2013, the City of Detroit filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy, the largest U.S. municipality to declare bankruptcy. The city’s financial crisis had severe consequences for the day-to-day operations of city government -- diminishing capacity to collect taxes, to respond to blight in neighborhoods, and to provide a baseline of public services and social supports. Through the InnovateGov program, we have developed a way to connect Michigan State University’s (MSU) most vital resource -- talented and motivated students -- to local government agencies and nonprofits charged with governing post-bankruptcy Detroit. Our students work on projects directly contributing to service delivery and resident engagement in a city where fiscal cuts have drained human capital and the benefits of a downtown resurgence have scarcely touched many of the city’s neighborhoods. Read More
  • Evangeline Linkous | Sarasota County, Florida established a reputation as a leader in smart growth planning with adoption of its Sarasota 2050 plan in 2002. As an alternative to sprawl in the countryside, the plan envisions a new form of development composed of compact villages and open space protections for land beyond the county’s urban growth boundary. In 2003, Sarasota 2050 was recognized with the Charter Award from the Congress for New Urbanism. Read More
  • Andrew Smith | When I arrived at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) and learned I had the freedom to incorporate service learning into my courses, I leapt at the opportunity to educate my students on the importance of community engagement and the hands-on application of the material we discussed in class, for multiple reasons. Service learning in undergrad allowed me to know my local community better, delve deeper into social science theories surrounding the issues related to the communities in which I served (education policy, the politics of disaster relief, etc.), and working as a team to accomplish important tasks in the broader community. Civic engagement is also a way to simultaneously counter the growing “polarization” of American politics and foster a sense of interconnectivity between the academy, students, and the community. Read More
  • Stephen J. McGovern | Regime theory has dominated the analysis of urban politics since the publication in 1989 of Clarence Stone’s seminal book, Regime Politics: Governing Atlanta, 1946-1988. As with any influential theory, there have been trenchant criticisms, but for years no alternative approach has emerged to challenge its leading position within the field. Read More
  • Megan Brown | At traditional academic research centers, faculty and graduate students make decisions on what topics to study. The Liberal Arts Action Lab reverses roles by empowering local residents of Hartford, Connecticut to drive this process. Prospective community partners from different neighborhood groups and non-profit organizations submit one-page proposals about real-world problems they wish to solve. All must agree to share their proposals on a public web page, designed to share -- rather than hide -- what different organizations are planning to work on. Read More
  • Editor’s Note (Jered Carr): We wanted to take this opportunity to highlight three important books published last year on urban politics. Michael Craw of Evergreen State College chaired the committee responsible for selecting the recipient of the Dennis Judd Best Book Award given by the Urban and Local Politics Section of the American Political Science Association in August 2019. In this post, he briefly describes the committee’s top three choices for best book published on 2018. Read More
  • Michael Craw and Tusty ten Bensel | Prisoner re-entry and recidivism pose significant challenges for many of our most economically disadvantaged neighborhoods. Ex-offenders face such disadvantages as weakened family and social relationships, outdated skills, stigma in the labor market, and psychological trauma from prison experience. The social isolation and economic vulnerability that ex-offenders face spills over into their neighborhoods, reinforcing neighborhood poverty and weakening local social institutions. At the same time, neighborhood poverty and other forms of disadvantage create barriers to successful re-entry and make it more likely that an ex-prisoner will re-offend. These findings lead many researchers to conclude that cycles of incarceration and re-entry reinforce neighborhood disadvantage in many communities. Read More
  • Richard O. Welsh, Sheneka Williams, Shafiqua Little, and Jerome Graham | There is widespread agreement among educational stakeholders on the urgency of school improvement. Educational actors ranging from policymakers, educators, parents to non-profit organizations and corporations insist that the public school system has failed too many underprivileged children and improving struggling schools is a central challenge in public education. Read More
  • Kristin L. Perkins | Since the mid-2000s millions of Americans have had personal experiences with foreclosure. Both homeowners and renters were affected by the surge in foreclosures over the last decade and neighborhoods of all types nationwide were exposed to risky mortgage lending, foreclosure sales, and vacant properties. Many studies have shown that foreclosures have negative effects on individuals and neighborhoods. Much of this research has focused on the effects of foreclosures on sales prices of neighboring homes and on neighborhood conditions like crime and neglected and poorly maintained properties. Read More
  • Eric Heberlig (UNC) | It seems straightforward that political advancement would be based on politicians’ accomplishments in office. Voters should want to reward politicians who have demonstrated their competence in office. Apart from the effects of the economy and war on presidential campaigns, there has been little direct examination of whether, and if so how, specific performance in office is related to politicians’ career decisions. Part of the reason for this dearth of research is that voters are generally thought to have very little knowledge, beyond party identification and name recognition, about most politicians. This is particularly true for local offices which typically do not focus on divisive issues that draw intense media coverage and typically do not involve substantial campaign spending. Read More
  • Urban Affairs Review is sponsoring a $250 award for the Best Paper in Urban or Regional Politics presented at the 2019 American Political Science Association conference. We encourage chairs of all Urban and Local Politics Section panels to nominate papers. We also welcome self-nominations. Papers presented on any panel associated with the conference are eligible for this award.

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  • Tony Robinson | In response to a persistently high number of people experiencing homelessness, concerns have grown among many local officials that the urban environment is being undermined by the presence of unsheltered homeless people, living in public places. An associated concern is that when homeless people are allowed to conduct acts of living in public spaces (such as sleeping or panhandling), they fall into unhealthy behavioral patterns that lengthen their spell of homelessness and undermine their long-term prospects. As a response, an increasing number of cities are criminalizing activities common to homeless people, passing laws that prohibit such things as sleeping, sitting, eating, panhandling, or sheltering in public spaces. Read More
  • Daniel Kübler and Philippe E. Rochat | Across the world, city-regions are characterized by fragmented systems of governance. As they have sprawled independently from institutional boundaries, areas of urban settlement span across large numbers of local jurisdictions. In some countries, governmental fragmentation has been reduced via territorial reforms. In other countries, such as the United States, or Switzerland - which is in the focus of our study - governmental fragmentation of metropolitan areas is very high. Many studies have shown that this situation impedes the ability of city-regions to implement policies that would be beneficial to the region as a whole. Read More
  • Barbara Ferman | On October 19, 2017, Bill Gates announced that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation would invest $1.7 billion in education with 60% going for curricula development and network building among schools, 15% for charter schools, and 25% for “big bets that have the potential to change the trajectory of public education over the next 10 to 15 years.” (quoted in L. Camera, 2017) Less than one month later, on November 16, 2017, the School Reform Commission (SRC), the body set up by the Pennsylvania legislature to govern the Philadelphia School District, voted to dissolve itself, returning school governance to Philadelphia[1] This vote was the result of intense grassroots activism involving thousands of teachers, nurses, school aides, students, parents, and other activists. Read More
  • Eric Seymour and Joshua Akers | Evictions have recently gained national attention, in large part through the publication of Matthew Desmond's Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Evicted. According to subsequent work from Desmond and colleagues at Princeton University's Eviction Lab, we now know that roughly 1 in 40 renter households were evicted between 2000 and 2016, with nearly one million renter households facing eviction each year. While eviction is certainly more likely for low-income renters, Desmond's work shows how families experiencing eviction fall even further into poverty as a result. After eviction, it becomes even more costly and difficult for already vulnerable families to find housing, hold jobs, and stay healthy. Read More

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About the Forum

Urban Affairs Review is a peer-reviewed, bi-monthly journal focused on questions of politics, governance, and public policy specifically as they relate to cities and/or their regions. The Urban Affairs Forum is a space for leading thinkers about urban issues to share their research, ideas, and experiences. Visit us for insights on local and regional politics, urban governance, and public policy that are based in the research findings of our diverse community of scholars and practitioners. You can learn more about the Forum here.

 

We are interested in Forum contributions about urban, local, and regional topics. If you would like to contribute, email Jered Carr at jbcarr@uic.edu.

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