Urban Studies in the News

Urban Studies in the News

On September 25 2022, Professor Dietrich Neumann gave the keynote opening address at Tirana (Albania) Architecture Week at Polis University. The lecture presented current critical debates about skyscrapers in New York City and their historical context.






Congratulations to the Class of 2021

The Urban  Studies Program celebrated the accomplishments of senior concentrators on Wednesday, April 28th, 2021. 

Watch the Urban Studies Senior Celebration
Senior Celebration Program (downloadable)


Rebecca L. Carter is the Co-winner, 2020 Edie Turner First-Book Prize in Ethnographic Writing

Click here for article


"The Moral Triangle: Germans, Israelis, Palestinians"

Katherina Galor shares an introduction to her forthcoming book co-authored with Sa’ed Atshan  (Duke University Press, 2020).

Podcast interview conducted by Matthew Berkman from the University of Pennsylvania’s Andrea Mitchell Center for the Study of Democracy.

"Coronavirus shows the perils and promise of globalization"

The pandemic should make us rethink our engagement beyond our borders.
By Samuel Zipp 

Washinton Post
March 27, 2020

The Idealist
Wendell Willkie’s Wartime Quest to Build One World

Samuel Zipp
March 2020
Harvard University Press 

In August 1942, as the threat of fascism swept the world, a charismatic Republican presidential contender boarded the Gulliver at Mitchel Airfield for a seven-week journey around the world. Wendell Willkie covered 31,000 miles as President Roosevelt’s unofficial envoy. He visited the battlefront in North Africa with General Montgomery, debated a frosty de Gaulle in Beirut, almost failed to deliver a letter to Stalin in Moscow, and allowed himself to be seduced by Chiang Kai-shek in China. Through it all, he was struck by the insistent demands for freedom across the world.


Jennah Gosciak ’19 and Oscar d'Angeac ’17 on the steps of the Rhode Island State HouseJennah Gosciak ’19 and Oscar d'Angeac ’17 on the steps of the Rhode Island State House"From Scholarship to Shelter Student research bolstered legislation to stop housing discrimination in R.I." 

By Peder Schaefer '22


“Prayers for the People: Homicide and Humanity in the Crescent City”

Rebecca Louise Carter
July 2019
University of Chicago Press
Co-winner, 2020 Edie Turner First-Book Prize in Ethnographic Writing 

“Grieve well and you grow stronger.” Anthropologist Rebecca Louise Carter heard this wisdom over and over while living in post-Katrina New Orleans, where everyday violence disproportionately affects Black communities. What does it mean to grieve well? How does mourning strengthen survivors in the face of ongoing threats to Black life?

Inspired by ministers and guided by grieving mothers who hold birthday parties for their deceased sons, Prayers for the People traces the emergence of a powerful new African American religious ideal at the intersection of urban life, death, and social and spiritual change. Carter frames this sensitive ethnography within the complex history of structural violence in America—from the legacies of slavery to free but unequal citizenship, from mass incarceration and overpolicing to social abandonment and the unequal distribution of goods and services. And yet Carter offers a vision of restorative kinship by which communities of faith work against the denial of Black personhood as well as the violent severing of social and familial bonds. A timely directive for human relations during a contentious time in America’s history, Prayers for the People is also a hopeful vision of what an inclusive, nonviolent, and just urban society could be.


Dietrich Neumann wins Graham Foundation award

Mies van der Rohe: The Architect in His Time

Dietrich Neumann, Author
Yale University Press, 2020

Featuring a catalogue of works and new photography, Mies van der Rohe is an ambitious critical monograph that aims to challenge the established narrative of this seminal architect. Dietrich Neumann takes a nonhagiographic approach, driven by the importance of context—social, political, and architectural—for understanding the architect’s life and work. Organized chronologically, Neumann consults contemporary responses to Mies’s work, competition entries, building codes, structural and material qualities of built forms, and detailed looks at the work on the drafting table in Mies’s office and those of his collaborators. He attributes two previously unknown houses to Mies and several smaller projects; these further complicate typical biographies of Mies which present his work as a series of masterpieces. Neumann notably provides a nuanced portrait of Mies’s relationship with his benefactors, including his refusal to take a stand against the Nazi government for fear that doing so would compromise any potential commissions.


Itohan Osayimwese featured in IMPACT 2019

Reconstructing Architecture
Sifting through visual language in the built environment can decode messages and ideas. 

Itohan Osayimwese is an architectural historian at Brown, but she works much like an archaeologist, sifting through visual language to see how it is translated into messages and ideas.
Osayimwese believes that many people still don’t think of Germany as a colonial power of the 19th century and do not understand the country’s modern architectural history in relation to larger developments worldwide.
When Osayimwese, an assistant professor of history of art and architecture, did the research for what became the book Colonialism and Modern Architecture in Germany, she aimed at widening the conceptual and geographic lens of architectural history.  Read more...


Congratulations to Professor Neumann!

The Society of Architectural Historians is pleased to announce the 2019 class of SAH Fellows. Dolores Hayden, David Van Zanten, Dietrich Neumann and Richard Guy Wilson will be inducted as Fellows of the Society of Architectural Historians on Thursday, April 25, 2019, during the SAH 72nd Annual International Conference awards ceremony in Providence, Rhode Island. SAH Fellows are individuals who have distinguished themselves by a lifetime of significant contributions to the field of architectural history, such as scholarship, service to SAH or stewardship of the built environment.  Read more HERE.


Dietrich Neumann

Dietrich Neumann is a professor of the history of modern architecture and director of the Urban Studies Program at Brown University. He was trained as an architect in Munich, Germany, and at the Architectural Association in London and received his Ph.D. from Munich University. He writes on modern European and American architecture and has organized a number of traveling exhibitions. His books have dealt with the history of skyscrapers, movie set design, architectural and urban illumination, Richard Neutra’s Windshield House on Fishers Island and the Empire State Building (a children’s book). He has just finished a study of the genesis and critical reception of Mies van der Rohe’s Barcelona Pavilion (Princeton University Press, 2019) and is working on a Mies biography (Yale University Press, 2020), as well as publications on George Nelson and Raymond Hood. Recent essays have addressed the reception of Frank Lloyd Wright in 1920s Germany, the political dimension of street lighting in Berlin and urban scenery in Fritz Lang’s movie, Metropolis. An interest in public humanities led to the creation of smart phone apps about campus architecture at Brown University, IIT and MIT.

Dietrich Neumann has won fellowships at the Centre Canadien d'Architecture in Montréal, the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, the American Academy in Berlin and the American Academy in Rome. He was the first Vincent Scully Visiting Professor at Yale and is a member of the Committee on Architecture and Design at the Museum of Modern Art. He won the 1996 Founders’ Award and the 2003 Philip Johnson Exhibition Catalogue Award, both from the Society of Architectural Historians. He co-organized three SAH study tours to Germany, served as the local co-chair of the SAH 2004 annual conference in Providence and is serving as local co-chair for the SAH 2019 annual conference in Providence. He is currently managing the Rhode Island content for SAH Archipedia, the Society’s online encyclopedia of US architecture. He served twice on the SAH Board of Directors and as its president from 2008 to 2010.


 Garret Robinson '19 Wins Royce Fellowship




Our Turn: Friedrich St.Florian and Dietrich Neumann: A bus depot beneath the lawn?

By Friedrich St. Florian and Dietrich Neumann

On July 29 (“Keep depot off State House lawn”), the Providence Journal’s editorial board argued against the proposed location for the new bus terminal on the grounds of the Rhode Island State House, and asked for alternative solutions: “Are there any creative thinkers out there?”


Brown’s Herbarium is a collection of ecology, geography and history

In the Brown University Herbarium, the digitization of tens of thousands of plants preserved over two centuries has opened the door to studies that span space, time and the diversity of nature.  Urban Studies's, Lance Gloss '18 has worked at the Herbarium for the past three years. 

"Davis is not alone in such reflections. Two rooms deeper into the herbarium, senior Lance Gloss is hard at work, too. An urban studies concentrator, he thinks about the correlated human experience as he scans and studies the collection. Among many insights he’s gleaned in more than three years working in the four-year-old facility is that as American society transitioned from its agrarian past to its suburban present — with a clear turning point in the 1940s and ’50s — collectors of grasses shifted from a vocabulary of “pastures” to one of “lawns.”

A native of Fort Collins, Colorado, he’s currently contributing to a national study, funded by the National Science Foundation and led by the University of Colorado, focused on the ecological history of the southern Rocky Mountains. For instance, tracking patterns of plant diversity in the Rockies and tracing the advent and spread of invasive species. In encounters with early parts of that collection, he has seen aspects of the U.S. westward expansion.

“There’s are really interesting records of colonialism here and of the development of science,” Gloss said. “The territorial ambitions of the U.S. are really reflected here.”"


Gray Brakke '18Gray Brakke '18

Profiles in Summer Research: Gray Brakke

Urban studies concentrator Gray Brakke is using his technology know-how to shed light on the understudied subject of welfare services available to low-income residents in the suburbs.


Colin Kent-Daggett '19Colin Kent-Daggett '19

Brown students have a summer to remember

September 6, 2017   Media contact: O'rya Hyde-Keller   401-863-1632

“I worked for Kelly Nipper, this summer’s Brown Arts Initiative artist-in-residence, and volunteered as an outreach worker for HOPE (Housing Opportunities for People Everywhere). Both experiences engaged me more seriously in various communities that I've explored while at Brown: Providence outside of College Hill and the professional art world. It was fascinating to see the relationship between Kelly’s vivid imagination for a complicated piece and the reality of all that was involved in building that piece. I’ve only recently begun taking my own artwork more seriously, so it was valuable to see the most professional side of the spectrum and the amount of commitment required to produce such large pieces of performance art. HOPE is an on-campus organization that does hands-on outreach, political lobbying and community organizing around the homeless community of Providence. I was an outreach worker during the school year and enjoyed continuing that work with a smaller group this summer. Studying urban studies at Brown has provided me with excellent theoretical tools to analyze urban problems, but volunteering with HOPE has taught me so much about the lives and realities of homeless folks in Providence and the political barriers to bettering their conditions.”  


Sarah Lucenti (front row, 5th from left)

Sarah Lucenti  '17, a senior setter on the volleyball team, is awarded the Arlene Gorton '52 Cup

Presented to the female varsity athlete who most consistently displays the ideals of sportsmanship and fair play.  It is named in honor of former Brown Associate Director of Athletics Arlene Gorton '52 in recognition of her role in developing women's intercollegiate athletics at Brown.

A native of Manhattan Beach, California, Sarah is double concentrating in Urban Studies and Sociology.

Brown students uncover stories, history of Jewelry District in Providence

By Christine Dunn 
Journal Staff WriterROVIDENCE, R.I. — In its heydey, the Jewelry District was not just the hub of the city’s costume jewelry industry. It was also a lively, densely built residential neighborhood packed with houses, schools and churches. (Click title to read full article.)


Partisans and Partners


Josh Pacewicz
December 2016
University of Chicago Press 

There’s no question that Americans are bitterly divided by politics. But in Partisans and Partners, Josh Pacewicz finds that our traditional understanding of red/blue, right/left, urban/rural division is too simplistic.

Wheels-down in Iowa—that most important of primary states—Pacewicz looks to two cities, one traditionally Democratic, the other traditionally Republican, and finds that younger voters are rejecting older-timers’ strict political affiliations. A paradox is emerging—as the dividing lines between America’s political parties have sharpened, Americans are at the same time growing distrustful of traditional party politics in favor of becoming apolitical or embracing outside-the-beltway candidates. Pacewicz sees this change coming not from politicians and voters, but from the fundamental reorganization of the community institutions in which political parties have traditionally been rooted. Weaving together major themes in American political history—including globalization, the decline of organized labor, loss of locally owned industries, uneven economic development, and the emergence of grassroots populist movements—Partisans and Partners is a timely and comprehensive analysis of American politics as it happens on the ground.

St. Florian and Neumann: Let's dare to change Providence's skyline

Providence Journal OpEd Posted Nov 29, 2016 at 5:32 PM

We are writing to compliment The Providence Journal’s editorial board for its superb editorial on Nov. 20 ("Rhode Island needs towering aspirations") urging Rhode Island residents to keep an open mind about a proposal for three residential high-rises (Hope Point Towers) from New York developer Jason Fane.  (Read Full Article)

What the political doctor orders

September 20, 2016 NY Daily News

In the New York Daily News, Jim Morone and David Blumenthal discuss the history of presidential candidates hiding illnesses. "Take John F. Kennedy. He radiated youth and vigor — and hid the fact that few Presidents have been sicker or more heavily medicated."

What the political doctor orders (co-authored by Jim Morone) – NY Daily News

Questions and Answers

A broader view of celebrated urbanist Jane Jacobs

Brown researchers gather uncollected writings, speeches and interviews to create a more comprehensive portrait of the writer who changed how we think about cities.  Read Article

Vital Little Plans

Stefano Bloch – Breaking Broken Windows: Graffiti/Violent Crime Correlation in Providence

No link between graffiti and serious crime

Written by Stefano Bloch, Presidential Diversity Scholar
Providence Journal, September 27, 2106


Changing the Playbook:
How Power, Profit, and Politics Transformed College Sports

Howard P. Chudacoff
December 2015
University of Illinois Press 


In Changing the Playbook , Howard P. Chudacoff delves into the background and what-ifs surrounding seven defining moments that transformed college sports. These changes involved fundamental issues--race and gender, profit and power--that reflected societal tensions and, in many cases, remain pertinent today:

  • the failed 1950 effort to pass a Sanity Code regulating payments to football players;
  • the thorny racial integration of university sports programs;
  • the boom in television money;
  • the 1984 Supreme Court decision that settled who could control skyrocketing media revenues;
  • Title IX's transformation of women's athletics;
  • the cheating, eligibility, and recruitment scandals that tarnished college sports in the 1980s and 1990s;
  • the ongoing controversy over paying student athletes a share of the enormous moneys harvested by schools and athletic departments.

A thought-provoking journey into the whos and whys of college sports history, Changing the Playbook reveals how the turning points of yesterday and today will impact tomorrow.

Mies van der Rohe in 1968. Credit Associated PressMies van der Rohe in 1968. Credit Associated PressDietrich Neumann quoted in the NY Times article

"A Push to Rebuild a Modernist Gem by Mies"

Stefano Bloch published in Journal of Contemporary Ethnography

Presidential Diversity Postdoctoral Fellow Stefano Bloch's article, "Place-Based Elicitation: Interviewing Graffiti Writers at the Scene of the Crime," can be found online.



Stefano Bloch, Presidential Diversity Postdoctoral Fellow, quoted in BDH article


City to spend $13 million to construct enhanced transit corridor


Assistant Professor of Urban Studies Jan (Josh) Pacewicz has an Op-Ed Piece in Salon

"For candidates, the Iowa caucus is all about getting to know everyday Americans-- or is it?"


a film by Hilary Silver
What happens to 7 homeless people over 7 years?

Direction Home

Direction Home follows seven homeless people over seven years until they have a home. They were Initially living in Welcome Arnold shelter in Cranston, RI until 2007 when Governor Carcieri decided to demolish the building to make way for a new State Police Headquarters that was ultimately never built on the site. The film tracks and periodically re-interviews the characters about where and how they are living. The film also chronicles the efforts of housing activists, tent city residents, and service providers. It reveals some of the reasons why people become chronically homeless, why Housing First and permanent supportive housing policies are ultimately effective in ending homelessness, and why rights for the homeless are so important. The film was made with the support of RI Council for the Humanities and Brown University and the assistance of Brown University students.

Stefano Bloch quoted in recent BDH article, "Reports of sexual misconduct rise"

But the report’s geographic limitations may do a disservice to the Brown community by enhancing the exclusivity of College Hill, said Stefano Bloch, a postdoctoral fellow in urban studies who teaches URBN 1230: “Crime and the City.”

The restricted data of the report “creates a city within a city” and makes the East Side “a privileged island,” Bloch said. If the report had included crime statistics from the West Side of Providence, overall crime would appear to be much higher, he said, adding that the East Side is much safer than other areas of the city.

Bloch also said crime rates have decreased consistently across the country since the 1990s. As in other cities, crime has diminished in Providence due to cultural, economic and spatial alterations, such as gentrification, he said. Attributing lower crime rates to better police work would represent a “narrow” and “too convenient” perspective, he added.

Ultimately, Bloch considers spikes in reported crime to be positive in nature. Bloch said a rise in statistics is “indicative of conversation,” sensitivity to crime and a more open discussion of crimes that would otherwise remain in the shadows, such as the sexual offenses reported last year.

Rhode Island Coalition for the Homeless Luncheon event

Professor Hilary Silver attends luncheon with three of her students.  Keynote speaker was Linda Kaufman, National Movement Manager for Zero: 2016.  Professor Silver teaches the Housing and Homelessness course for Urban Studies.
from left
: Annabelle Clemot, Arianna Diaz, Professor Hilary Silver, Devika Seeraj.

Dietrich Neumann recipient of 2015 Global Experiential Learning and Teaching (GE

LT) grant!

Students in HIAA 1850H BERLIN: Architecture, Politics and Memory will travel to Berlin during spring break!

Robert Azar, Providence's Director of Current Planning and Urban Studies Visiting Lecturer quoted in Providence Journal, January 16, 2015

More than a bus stop: Providence’s Kennedy Plaza reopens as gathering place

Cities of Light

Two Centuries of Urban Illumination

Edited by Sandy Isenstadt, Margaret Maile Petty, Dietrich Neumann
January 2015


Cities of Light is the first global overview of modern urban illumination, a development that allows human wakefulness to colonize the night, doubling the hours available for purposeful and industrious activities. Urban lighting is undergoing a revolution due to recent developments in lighting technology, and increased focus on sustainability and human-scaled environments. Cities of Light is expansive in coverage, spanning two centuries and touching on developments on six continents, without diluting its central focus on architectural and urban lighting. Covering history, geography, theory, and speculation in urban lighting, readers will have numerous points of entry into the book, finding it easy to navigate for a quick reference and or a coherent narrative if read straight through. With chapters written by respected scholars and highly-regarded contemporary practitioners, this book will delight students and practitioners of architectural and urban history, area and cultural studies, and lighting design professionals and the institutional and municipal authorities they serve.

Dietrich Neumann
is professor in the history of art and architecture at Brown University, USA. His research concentrates on late 19th and early 20th century European and American architecture. Neumann has published on the history of buildings materials, German skyscrapers of the 1920s, the history of film set design, and architectural illumination.

Website shows work of Urban Studies students Fall 2014

This website acts as a repository for student finals in "Crime and the City", URBN 1230 and was designed with the help of Ashley So.

Brown professors host Providence bus tours

PROVIDENCE – A new bus-tour series hosted by the Urban Studies Program at Brown University aims to reveal the city through the eyes of Brown professors.

Each of the six bus tours, free and open to the public, which began Nov. 7, take participants on a narrated ride through a section of the city. A different faculty member will take over the bus PA system each week, discussing everything from street art to architecture and urban agriculture.

Urban studies director Dietrich Neumann said that the tours are an opportunity for the public to hear how faculty apply their interests locally. Participating faculty include Robert Azar, Stefano Bloch, Kenneth Wong, Nathaniel Baum-Snow, Neumann and Yesim Sungu-Eryilmaz.

The first tour sold out; the series continues through April. Tours begin at 3 p.m. and last approximately 90 minutes. They begin and leave from 341 Brook St. Refreshments will be served at the end of each tour in the Urban Studies building at 29 Manning Walk.

RSVPs can be made by email to [email protected].

from Providence Business News, November 10, 2014.

Presidential Diversity Postdoctoral Fellow quoted in recent INDY article

"Ten More Years: Gang Sentence Enhancement Legislation in Rhode Island" by Mika Kligler (September 12, 2014)

Professor James Morone and Dr. Stefano Bloch participate in Ferguson teach-in

September 9, 2014 - a Ferguson teach-in was hosted on campus by the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America. Urban Studies Professors James Morone and Stefano Bloch were on the panel. Read the Brown Daily Herald article on the event to hear more.

Photo Credit: Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo / Herald

The Devils We Know

Us and Them in America's Raucous Political Culture

James A. Morone
September 2014
University Press of Kansas 

Is there an American culture? Certainly, says James Morone. Americans are fighting over it now. They have been fighting over it since the first Puritan stepped ashore. Americans hate government (no national health insurance!) and call for more of it (lock ‘em up!). They prize democracy (power to the people) and scramble to restrict it (the electoral college in the 21st century?). They celebrate opportunity—but only for some (don’t let those people in!). Americans proclaim liberty then wrestle over which kind—positive (freedom from want) or negative (no new taxes!)?

JAMES A. MORONE is the John Hazen White Professor of Political Science and Public Policy at Brown University. His many books include Hellfire Nation: The Politics of Sin in American History, The Democratic Wish, The Heart of Power: Health and Politics in the Oval Office (with David Blumenthal), and By the People: Debating American Government (with Rogan Kersh).

Professor Dietrich Neumann and Students Launch New iPhone App, Brown FACADES

The new iPhone App, Brown FACADES, is an interactive guide to the architectural history of the Brown University Campus.  The App has information about 130 buildings on Brown's Campus, including some 'ghost buildings' that either are not there anymore, or were meant to be built but never were. A text to speech function lets you listen to the text while you look at the building (please wait for 2 seconds for it to begin). The texts were written by the students, all buildings were photographed for this project by Hassan Bagheri, there are many historic photographs from the Brown University Archives, the App design was done by Gokce Kinayoglu, editor in chief: Siri Olson, project director: Dietrich Neumann

Brown’s Campus is a microcosm of American architecture with excellent examples from all periods of its 250 year history. At the same time, its architecture and art, its public and intimate spaces help to tell the rich story of our unique institution, our students, faculty, staff and administrators. The work on this App began with an undergraduate research seminar in the history of architecture in the fall of 2011. Every week the students met in a different space on campus to discuss research methods, review individual entries and conduct a site visit. All entries were written by the students and then edited by Siri Olson and Dietrich Neumann. We hope to continue to develop the App and hope for feedback from students and alumni to add more “Facts About Campus Architecture Design Environment and Spaces.

It can be downloaded from the App Store for FREE here.

Additional information can be found on the Facebook page here.

Urban design studio explores possibilities for former Route I-195 land

Providence Journal featured Dietrich Neumann's fall 2012 studio seminar, co-taught with Friedrich St. Florian of RISD and Ed Mitchell of Yale, on its front page (May 7, 2013).  Teams of Brown and RISD students enrolled in "Land Use Planning: The I-195 Parcels" (URBN 1900) designed new uses for the downtown land left vacant by the dismantling and moving of the interstate highway.  Their models were the subject of a catalog and exhibited to the public.  The class and the publication were fully sponsored by Urban Studies.

Read the full story here.

Samuel Cohen from Dietrich Neumann's Land Use Planning course (URBN 1900), Fall 2012Samuel Cohen from Dietrich Neumann's Land Use Planning course (URBN 1900), Fall 2012