Andrew Young School of Policy Studies
ATLANTA—Georgia State University’s Urban Studies Institute welcomed over 100 international presenters to its first Comparative Urbanism: Global Perspectives Conference in Atlanta on March 7 and 8.
“We brought together urban scholars from around the world to discuss different urban developments,” said Johannes Nijman, director of the in the Andrew Young of Policy Studies. “Our question was, ‘How are cities around the world becoming more alike and how are they on different paths?’”
To help answer this question, the two-day conference offered nearly 20 parallel sessions covering both theory and contemporary discourse in subjects ranging from urban resilience to urban land financing to immigrant entrepreneurship and climate change.
Participating scholars came from global institutions including University of Amsterdam, Vysokovsky Graduate School of Urbanism, University of Pompeu Fabra, HafenCity University, University of British Columbia, IIT Bombay, and Universidade de Brasilla, among others. The diverse set of panelists also included experts from well-known U.S. universities such as Cornell, UCLA, Berkeley, Clemson and the University of Illinois.
Georgia State’s Risa Palm, senior vice president for Academic Affairs and provost, and AYS dean Sally Wallace provided opening statements.
Nijman, fellow AYS professors Jean-Paul Addie and Fei Li, and Georgia State professors John Marshall and Deidre Oakley, were instrumental in securing the conference’s keynote speakers. George Lin, a well-known expert in Chinese urbanization from the University of Hong Kong, and Kevin Ward of the University of Manchester, gave the first and second keynote speeches.
The third and final keynote was given by Ananya Roy, professor of Urban Planning and Social Welfare at the Luskin School of Public Affairs at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).
The Urban Studies Institute and conference have important implications for the future of the discipline, said Roy, who is also UCLA’s first director of the Institute on Inequality and Democracy. “I anticipate that the Urban Studies Institute will become a key node of knowledge production in the coming years and will reshape the ways in which U.S. universities nurture urban studies research and teaching,” she said.
Nijman believes other lasting outcomes from the conference will include new, international networks for future research collaborations and an increase in visibility for both Georgia State and the Urban Studies Institute. “This was a rare conference in the way it brought together leading scholars from different world regions,” he said.
Although the Urban Studies Institute was created just over two years ago, it continues to expand at a rapid pace. In addition to the Global Perspectives Conference, the institute will soon celebrate another milestone. This fall, its inaugural class of students will begin studies toward a doctoral degree in urban studies, the first of its kind offered in the state of Georgia.
For more information about academic programs offered by the Urban Studies Institute, go to urban.gsu.edu.