Series of research conferences on urban issues to begin April 25

The University of Chicago Urban Network has scheduled four research conferences beginning April 25 as part of its 2013 Urban Forums series. They will focus on several key issues facing cities today, including managing urban infrastructure and built environments, immigration, health inequality and access to care, and political networks.

The Urban Network, a community of UChicago faculty, students, policymakers and others interested in urban research, was established in 2010 to promote innovation in the study of urban processes. Through interdisciplinary programs, the Urban Network cultivates new scholarship and seeks to bridge research with practice, extending UChicago’s tradition of excellence in urban scholarship.

“This year we wanted to highlight the breadth of urban research occurring at the University of Chicago; among the many conference submissions from faculty, these four covered quite a bit of that ground,” said Scott W. Allard, faculty director of the network and an associate professor at the School of Social Service Administration.

“Through our 2013 Urban Forums series, we’re almost getting back to the basics of urbanism by examining the infrastructure, environment, people and systems that make up urban places, particularly Chicago,” he added.

The Urban Forums series also will build stronger connections to researchers and practitioners outside of UChicago. “We are very excited to host events that will connect scholars, students and policymakers working in a variety of urban fields,” Allard added.

The forums, to be held at various locations around campus, are free and open to the public. The Urban Forum series topics include:

• “Chicago and the Built Environment,” April 25-27: A three-day exploration of the spatial history of Chicago that will begin with a keynote address from Tim Samuelson, the official cultural historian for the city of Chicago. Samuelson is a respected advocate for the architectural preservation of Chicago’s built environment and is a noted cultural historian with an encyclopedic knowledge of the city’s past. The conference will continue conclude with a day of site visits on April 27.

• “Globalization and Mobilities: The Theory and Methods of Human Movement,” May 3-4: The conference will explore the massive movement of populations from their natal territorial spaces to other places, spurred by economic opportunities, political upheavals, warfare, and religious and ethnic persecution over the past two centuries. As part of a collaborative project between UChicago and the Université Paris Diderot, scholars will elaborate on new methods for the study of migration and articulate theories less tied to the belief that the complete assimilation and acculturation of migrants by their hosts is possible or even desirable.

• “Causality in Political Networks,” May 10-11: A focus on methodological innovation with respect to causality and political networks. Urban neighborhoods with close-knit social relationships among residents are hypothesized to develop more social and political capital than their more isolated counterparts. Experts from multiple disciplines—including political science, human development, statistics and sociology—will present their work.

• A “Health in Cities,” May 10: The conference will bring together dozens of health scholars from multiple UChicago research organizations to discuss health issues in cities today, including poverty, education, health care, environmental quality and crime. The purpose of this conference, organized by the Center for Health and the Social Sciences (CHAS), is to connect individuals and organizations by sharing new insights from UChicago’s research on Health in Cities, important questions and challenges that remain unaddressed, and practical aspirations for collaboration to develop new solutions to the problems of health in cities.

“The mix of conferences and themes this year is exciting,” added Allard. “Taken as a whole, these events will push the boundaries of urban research, as well as forge better connections between urban research and policy.”

To register for the conferences or to learn more about the Urban Network, visit