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Posted June 4, 2015 by
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One of the things we want to do at OnCUE is to keep our readers apprised of developments at the Center for Urban Engagement. It has been a big year. We launched the Center and graduated our first majors in Urban Studies. In this post, we’ll share a few of the highlights from the past year and let you know about some of our events and priorities for next year.

Launch

As you may know, CUE officially launched in January 2015 after a very busy summer and fall semester in which we worked together with our core and supporting faculty and staff to define the Center’s identity, mission, vision, and core values, and to bring five core programs (and other programs in partnership) together under one umbrella.

Urban Track of Wheaton Passage 

While we didn’t officially launch until January, we ran our whole year under the banner of our new vision, mission, and core values. That includes our programs in partnership, such as the Urban Track of Wheaton Passage. Every year, a number of incoming Wheaton students choose to begin their studies in the Urban Track of our first-year transition program, Wheaton Passage. Our August 2014 Urban Track program was a fantastic way for students to get off on the right foot for their next four years at Wheaton College.

Wheaton in Chicago 

Wheaton in Chicago enjoyed record enrollments in the fall of 2014. Once again, students interned at an incredible array of organizations throughout the city. Here are some of our internship sites from last fall:

As usual, Wheaton in Chicago students, faculty, and staff (accompanied by Global Urban Perspectives students) also attended the annual meeting of the Christian Community Development Association, which was held in Raleigh, North Carolina. (Next year’s Wheaton in Chicago students will attend the meeting in Memphis, Tennessee.)

We also had new people working with the program. Rachel Brown started with us as Learning Community Coordinator. Rachel leads our student life, spiritual formation, and facilities management work. And while Dr. Greg Lee wasn’t new to the College, last fall was his first time teaching one of our core courses, Theologies of Transformation: Public & Political Theologies in Urban Context.

Broader Short-Term Exposure for the Entire College Community

Some may wonder how we use our facility in Chicago between January and July. We have steady, heavy programming in the building from late July or early August (with Urban Track of Wheaton Passage) through the end of the fall semester in mid-December (with Wheaton in Chicago), but in the spring semester we use our facility as a platform for shorter-term engagements with the city. In each of the past two spring semesters (2014 and 2015), we've had more than 250 students gain exposure to and experience in the city through our Uptown facility.

Events

We sponsored or co-sponsored a number of events on and off campus. Here were some of the highlights:

The Samuel A. Shellhamer Award in Urban Studies

This year, we also transformed our award for the best paper in Urban Studies into a writing competition. Students submitted position papers on the challenge of mass incarceration and the role of religious institutions in shaping a response. The top prize of $300 went to Taylor Pride. Ian Donahoe and Hayley Woodbridge finished as runners up and received gift boxes from local coffee roaster and social enterprise I Have a Bean.

OnCUE

Of course, we also launched this blog, OnCUE, in April. Next year, you can count on student posts in addition to those from faculty, staff, and guests.

What to Expect for Next Year

In addition to adjusting our major, minor and Wheaton in Chicago program (and all of their student outcomes and assessment plans) to Wheaton’s exciting new general education curriculum, Christ at the Core, we have a number of other plans for next year:

We hope you’ll join us at those events, and we’ll look forward to keeping you up to date on next year’s developments at CUE.

From May 27 to 29, The Chicago Council on Global Affairs hosted the first Chicago Forum on Global Cities. I joined hundreds of delegates from dozens of countries for enlightening and lively discussions of a range of topics including transportation, smart cities and big data, sustainable design, cities in emerging economies, arts, education, and the foreign policy of cities. All of the panels addressed topics essential to the future of global cities, but the most interesting panels had something in common: They used their panel topic as a “wedge” to open up conversations about our vision for the city. The most successful panels managed to address normative questions of what our cities should be and who our cities should be for.

Thursday morning’s session on Designing Environmentally Sustainable Cities followed sessions on air transportation and smart cities. While all three topics had the potential to remain squarely focused on technical issues, the discussion of sustainability opened up profound questions of what the city should be and whom it should be for. When we frame the questions of urban sustainability well – whether we’re talking about climate change or energy, pollution or green space, air, water, soil, or biodiversity – they always amount to questions about what kind of city we want to live in. These questions get to what might be described as the social project of sustainable urbanism.

Not just how we can reduce the negative impacts of our design practices, but who do our design practices serve?Not all discussions of sustainability take this approach. As panelist Richard Burdett noted, city officials (especially urban planners) sometimes fail to embed sustainability concerns in broader discussions of what the city is or should be and have given in to strictly technical visions of their professions. Or as Francisco Gonzalez-Pulido suggested, from the landscape to the building, the design process should not only meet the needs of the community, but should invite the whole community – wealthy or poor, empowered or marginalized – into conversations about what the needs of the community are and how they should be met. This approach to design would foreground a plurality of ways to envision the future of the city.

Foregrounding this plurality visions for our communities is would fulfill Burdett’s call for a more political – and less technical – approach to urban planning. “Political” here does not mean “governed by ideological extremity” or “bringing into sharp focus ideological differences.” Though in some cases it might be the former or require the latter, “political” here would mean something like exposing and discussing the vision of the good city behind our practices and policies of urban life. In other words, city officials and planning professionals should build a platform for public participation in discussions that integrate physical design into broader conversations about what the thriving city looks like (a conversation you can find at Common Place and the Thriving Cities Project)

The Chicago Forum session on sustainable design session was not alone in raising these questions, but was joined by sessions on the arts and education in opening up these broader normative conversations. For example, James Cuno, President and CEO of the J. Paul Getty Trust, noted that art in the city should not only be a way for us to remember what we have been, but a platform for dreaming about the future and envisioning what the city should be. While the panel on education may have been framed as a discussion about the future of work, it evolved into a discussion about what it means to be human – and how deciding what we learn may be a key difference between human and machine learning – and how to educate a citizenry that can deliberate about the kind of city we want to live in.

In the end, these three panels created a foundation for the kind of conversation we should be having about cities, global and otherwise. It’s a conversation that resonates with the CUE mission: “to promote just, sustainable, and flourishing urban communities through the academic study of cities and transformational experiences of urban life.” And it’s a conversation we hope to host for our students, staff, and faculty, and for others in our community. Educating a citizenry that is capable of deliberating about the kind of city we want to live in -- in some ways, that's what CUE programs are about.

Posted June 4, 2015 by
Tags:



One of the things we want to do at OnCUE is to keep our readers apprised of developments at the Center for Urban Engagement. It has been a big year. We launched the Center and graduated our first majors in Urban Studies. In this post, we’ll share a few of the highlights from the past year and let you know about some of our events and priorities for next year.

Launch

As you may know, CUE officially launched in January 2015 after a very busy summer and fall semester in which we worked together with our core and supporting faculty and staff to define the Center’s identity, mission, vision, and core values, and to bring five core programs (and other programs in partnership) together under one umbrella.

Urban Track of Wheaton Passage 

While we didn’t officially launch until January, we ran our whole year under the banner of our new vision, mission, and core values. That includes our programs in partnership, such as the Urban Track of Wheaton Passage. Every year, a number of incoming Wheaton students choose to begin their studies in the Urban Track of our first-year transition program, Wheaton Passage. Our August 2014 Urban Track program was a fantastic way for students to get off on the right foot for their next four years at Wheaton College.

Wheaton in Chicago 

Wheaton in Chicago enjoyed record enrollments in the fall of 2014. Once again, students interned at an incredible array of organizations throughout the city. Here are some of our internship sites from last fall:

As usual, Wheaton in Chicago students, faculty, and staff (accompanied by Global Urban Perspectives students) also attended the annual meeting of the Christian Community Development Association, which was held in Raleigh, North Carolina. (Next year’s Wheaton in Chicago students will attend the meeting in Memphis, Tennessee.)

We also had new people working with the program. Rachel Brown started with us as Learning Community Coordinator. Rachel leads our student life, spiritual formation, and facilities management work. And while Dr. Greg Lee wasn’t new to the College, last fall was his first time teaching one of our core courses, Theologies of Transformation: Public & Political Theologies in Urban Context.

Broader Short-Term Exposure for the Entire College Community

Some may wonder how we use our facility in Chicago between January and July. We have steady, heavy programming in the building from late July or early August (with Urban Track of Wheaton Passage) through the end of the fall semester in mid-December (with Wheaton in Chicago), but in the spring semester we use our facility as a platform for shorter-term engagements with the city. In each of the past two spring semesters (2014 and 2015), we've had more than 250 students gain exposure to and experience in the city through our Uptown facility.

Events

We sponsored or co-sponsored a number of events on and off campus. Here were some of the highlights:

The Samuel A. Shellhamer Award in Urban Studies

This year, we also transformed our award for the best paper in Urban Studies into a writing competition. Students submitted position papers on the challenge of mass incarceration and the role of religious institutions in shaping a response. The top prize of $300 went to Taylor Pride. Ian Donahoe and Hayley Woodbridge finished as runners up and received gift boxes from local coffee roaster and social enterprise I Have a Bean.

OnCUE

Of course, we also launched this blog, OnCUE, in April. Next year, you can count on student posts in addition to those from faculty, staff, and guests.

What to Expect for Next Year

In addition to adjusting our major, minor and Wheaton in Chicago program (and all of their student outcomes and assessment plans) to Wheaton’s exciting new general education curriculum, Christ at the Core, we have a number of other plans for next year:

We hope you’ll join us at those events, and we’ll look forward to keeping you up to date on next year’s developments at CUE.

From May 27 to 29, The Chicago Council on Global Affairs hosted the first Chicago Forum on Global Cities. I joined hundreds of delegates from dozens of countries for enlightening and lively discussions of a range of topics including transportation, smart cities and big data, sustainable design, cities in emerging economies, arts, education, and the foreign policy of cities. All of the panels addressed topics essential to the future of global cities, but the most interesting panels had something in common: They used their panel topic as a “wedge” to open up conversations about our vision for the city. The most successful panels managed to address normative questions of what our cities should be and who our cities should be for.

Thursday morning’s session on Designing Environmentally Sustainable Cities followed sessions on air transportation and smart cities. While all three topics had the potential to remain squarely focused on technical issues, the discussion of sustainability opened up profound questions of what the city should be and whom it should be for. When we frame the questions of urban sustainability well – whether we’re talking about climate change or energy, pollution or green space, air, water, soil, or biodiversity – they always amount to questions about what kind of city we want to live in. These questions get to what might be described as the social project of sustainable urbanism.

Not just how we can reduce the negative impacts of our design practices, but who do our design practices serve?Not all discussions of sustainability take this approach. As panelist Richard Burdett noted, city officials (especially urban planners) sometimes fail to embed sustainability concerns in broader discussions of what the city is or should be and have given in to strictly technical visions of their professions. Or as Francisco Gonzalez-Pulido suggested, from the landscape to the building, the design process should not only meet the needs of the community, but should invite the whole community – wealthy or poor, empowered or marginalized – into conversations about what the needs of the community are and how they should be met. This approach to design would foreground a plurality of ways to envision the future of the city.

Foregrounding this plurality visions for our communities is would fulfill Burdett’s call for a more political – and less technical – approach to urban planning. “Political” here does not mean “governed by ideological extremity” or “bringing into sharp focus ideological differences.” Though in some cases it might be the former or require the latter, “political” here would mean something like exposing and discussing the vision of the good city behind our practices and policies of urban life. In other words, city officials and planning professionals should build a platform for public participation in discussions that integrate physical design into broader conversations about what the thriving city looks like (a conversation you can find at Common Place and the Thriving Cities Project)

The Chicago Forum session on sustainable design session was not alone in raising these questions, but was joined by sessions on the arts and education in opening up these broader normative conversations. For example, James Cuno, President and CEO of the J. Paul Getty Trust, noted that art in the city should not only be a way for us to remember what we have been, but a platform for dreaming about the future and envisioning what the city should be. While the panel on education may have been framed as a discussion about the future of work, it evolved into a discussion about what it means to be human – and how deciding what we learn may be a key difference between human and machine learning – and how to educate a citizenry that can deliberate about the kind of city we want to live in.

In the end, these three panels created a foundation for the kind of conversation we should be having about cities, global and otherwise. It’s a conversation that resonates with the CUE mission: “to promote just, sustainable, and flourishing urban communities through the academic study of cities and transformational experiences of urban life.” And it’s a conversation we hope to host for our students, staff, and faculty, and for others in our community. Educating a citizenry that is capable of deliberating about the kind of city we want to live in -- in some ways, that's what CUE programs are about.

After the Great Migration brought hundreds of thousands of new black residents to Chicago in the first half of the 1900s (described well by Arnold Hirsch in Making the Second Ghetto), white Chicago residents left for the suburbs, encouraged by post-World War II government policies promoting suburbanization as well as racial animus. Such moves transformed numerous Chicago community areas; Englewood, south of the traditional Black Belt, went from 2.2% black in 1940 to 96.4% black in 1970 and North Lawndale, a Jewish population center, transitioned from 0.4% black in 1940 to 91.1% black in 1960.

Amidst these two substantial demographic shifts, what happened to the locations of churches in the Chicago region? I’ve been working on a project that involves mapping church locations in the Chicago metropolitan area at six time points: 1925, 1936, 1948, 1957, 1968-69, and 1988-90. Utilizing address data from directories published by the Church Federation of Greater Chicago, a primarily Mainline Protestant group, I have mapped over 8,500 church locations in a number of denominations (including denominations in the Mainline, Conservative, and Black Protestant traditions).

Here are two of the findings thus far. First, not surprisingly, the changing racial demographics of Chicago neighborhoods affected churches. Here are two maps of the locations of African Methodist Episcopal (AME) churches, first in 1925 and then in 1988-90. The shading on the maps indicates the percent of residents in the community areas who were black: the darkest shade is 40% black or greater while no shading represents 0-9.99% black.

 

In 1925, twelve of thirteen AME churches in the region were on Chicago’s south or west sides but by 1988-90, eighteen of the forty-nine churches were in the suburbs, mostly in suburban communities with higher black populations like Joliet, Aurora, and Elgin. Concurrently, the number of AME churches in Chicago increased after World War II, primarily in racially transitioning areas such as North Lawndale, East Garfield Park, and Morgan Park. In contrast, DuPage County in 1970 had no AME churches amongst a population of 491,882 - only 1,613 county residents (0.03%) were black. By 1990, DuPage County had 1 AME church and was 1.98% black (15,462 residents).

Another aspect of this project involves examining church locations within suburban areas as populations increased with mass suburbanization. I looked specifically at DuPage County, a county with communities first founded in the 1830s and with prominent railroad lines constructed in the mid nineteenth century. See three maps of church locations from 1925, 1968-69, and 1988-90.

In the 1925 directory and amongst the Protestant denominations in this analysis, there were twenty churches in DuPage County (1920 population of 42,120). All were within a short distance of the three major east-west railroad lines or an interurban electric line and are primarily located within older communities/suburbs. As the distance from Chicago grew, the number of churches decreased.

By 1968-69 (population of 491,882 in 1970), there were more churches in more locations including between the railroad lines in new developments and suburbs. The number of churches was still limited in the furthest corners of the county.

Two decades later, development had spread throughout the county (1990 population of 781,666) with churches added in expanding suburbs like Bartlett and Naperville. Development between the railroad lines continued, leading to more churches in the already developed central and eastern portions of the county.

Both of these findings suggest that the locations of churches within a metropolitan region are affected by factors beyond just their congregants or the state of their church buildings. As evidenced here, two influential factors are the movement of different racial and ethnic groups within a region as well as suburban settlement patterns. Protestant churches may have more freedom to pick up and move than Catholic parishes (see John McGreevy’s Parish Boundaries and Gerald Gamm’s Urban Exodus) but where they go may just often depend on social forces beyond their control.  

For the past six years, Vienna, Austria has been ranked by the international consulting firm Mercer as the world’s most livable city, according to factors such as public transportation, power and water supply, political, social and economic climate, medical care and education.

 

Vienna’s city center is a hive of massive stone monoliths, adorned with elaborate carvings, mosaics and wrought iron balconies, lining broad leafy avenues and narrow pedestrian alleys. The Habsburg monarchy, one of Europe’s most important royal dynasties, established their primary residence in Vienna, and bequeathed to it an enduring architecture from the 12th century until the demise of their rule in World War I. Such an immovable historic built environment is bemoaned in the city council chambers of some other European cities as an impediment to “modern development.” As much as historic architecture, particular the royal kind, is a valuable attraction for the tourist revenues which city leaders pursue, planners in historic cities face the challenging task of sufficiently modernizing the urban infrastructure (Public transportation! Wi-fi!) and tourist amenities (Shopping! Luxurious hotels!) to accommodate tourists with high-end expectations.

It is after all the high-end tourists who spend the most in the city, and thus contribute the greatest proportion to the city’s revenues. In addition to the high-end tourists, as the European Union has increased the ease of international relocation, mobile young professionals have also become targets for the planning schemes of the Europe’s large cities. Various European cities have adopted different strategies to reconcile their historical attractions and modern aspirations, from piecemeal demolition of historic buildings to serve a large new development to large-scale demolitions and restructuring. These efforts differ from previous city planning schemes, such as Baron Haussmann’s (in)famous reshaping of Paris’s center in the 19th century, in that a general sense that the urban built heritage should be preserved when possible limits the scope of demolitions. Or, as some cynics might argue, at least it ensures that the rhetoric of planning in these historic areas must give lip service to historic continuity.

However Viennese city planning has occurred in the past twenty years, the results are impressive. Underneath the stone Habsburg city blocks, a subway carries Viennese throughout the city, while those who opt for a better view can take the city trams or buses. And for anyone wanting a bit of exercise, an extensive network of bike lanes crisscrosses the streets and sidewalks. Of course all that exercise requires a stop at one of Vienna’s characteristic coffeehouses, which serve as the city’s public living rooms and enable conversation, perhaps over a caffe mélange and sachertorte, until they close around 1am.

This combination of public infrastructure and private coffeehouses contribute to a distinctively Viennese social life, creating an imminently accessible and visible city. My all-too brief stay in the city piqued an interest in Vienna, but further conclusions will require further, extensive ethnographic research, to be sure. And probably another slice of sachertorte.

As any professor knows, real life sometimes crashes your party. Events on campus or around the world can require a change of lesson plans. That has been the case in my classes all year. I was teaching courses in Urban Studies during the unrest in Ferguson and the Eric Garner death in New York City. Today, I’ve had to ask myself what questions I would want students in my Chicago course to ask about events in Baltimore. What questions are they now ready to ask and to begin to answer? How has the class prepared students to engage with the death of Freddie Gray and the unfolding protests and riots in the city?

Below are a few brief ideas on teaching the Baltimore riots in my Chicago course.

These will be the leading questions in my class today. This wasn't how I drew up the class session when we started the course in March, but it will help our students to grapple with today's news and to see the connections between what they're learning in class and what goes on beyond our campus.