Tag Archives: Urban Studies

Fall Graduate Class: Economic Democracy Against Economic Crisis

Taught by Evan Casper-Futterman
With Guest Lectures by Dario Azzellini

This class will be cross-listed in the Masters Programs of both Labor and Urban Studies. Speak to your adviser about registration.
Monday nights at the Murphy Institute

In the 1950s, labor unions claimed membership in 35% of the workforce. Today, density of labor unions outside of government employees is 6.7%. This precipitous decline in the economic and political power of working people begs the question: who will act as the countervailing economic and political forces to capital and inequality in the 21st century? This course will identify and examine multiple forms of workers’ self-management and cooperative enterprises and institutions throughout history, both as a reaction to economic crisis and as a coherent vision for a humane and just society. The course explicitly approaches cooperatives and self-management not as an “alternative business model,” but as part of labor history and labor struggles. This reconnects the idea of cooperatives to their origins and shows the potential of cooperatives in putting forward different values for a more just and participatory politics, economics, and society.

Faculty:

Evan Casper-Futterman is a 3rd generation New Yorker living in the Bronx. He earned a master’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of New Orleans in 2011, was a White House Intern in the Spring of 2012 in the Domestic Policy Council’s Office of Urban Affairs and a Research Fellow for the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives. He is currently a doctoral candidate at the Bloustein School of Urban Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University, studying economic democracy and economic development. He is on the Board of Directors of the Cooperative Economics Alliance of New York City (CEANYC). His writing has been published in The Lens and The Huffington Post, as well as the peer-reviewed Berkeley Planning Journal. He contributed a chapter in the edited volume, The Unfathomable City: A New Orleans Atlas (2013).

Dario Azzellini, Murphy Institute visiting scholar, is a political scientist, lecturer at Johannes Kepler University in Linz, Austria, writer and filmmaker. He has published several books, essays and documentaries about social movements, privatization of military services, migration and racism, including An Alternative Labour History: Worker Control and Workplace Democracy. His research and writing focuses on social and revolutionary militancy, migration and racism, people’s power and self-administration, workers control and extensive case studies in Latin America.

Prof. Steve Brier Publishes Book on Austerity and Public Education

austerity-blues

We are please to announce the recent publication of a new book from Murphy Institute consortial faculty member Prof. Steve Brier, Austerity Blues: Fighting for the Soul of Public Higher Education, published by Johns Hopkins University Press.

Co-authored with Michael Fabricant, Austerity Blues examines the social consequences of disinvestment in public higher education, particularly its effects on growing economic disparities in our cities and communities. This book is essential and timely reading for anyone grappling with the question of how public higher education can be an instrument of opportunity and equality.

When he isn’t teaching labor history at the Murphy Institute, Brier is a professor of urban education and coordinator of the Interactive Technology and Pedagogy program at the CUNY Graduate Center. He is the co-founder of CUNY’s American Social History Project and the co-author and co-producer of Who Built America, a multimedia curriculum developed by the Project. His co-author, Michael Fabricant, is a professor of social work at the CUNY Graduate Center and a Vice President of CUNY’s Professional Staff Congress.

Undesigning the Redline

In recent years, “gentrification” has infiltrated the everyday speech of urban residents struggling to stay in their communities in the face of rising rents. But gentrification is only one piece of a much longer history of displacement and policy-produced poverty in American cities. This history runs from slavery through Jim Crow, redlining, racial covenants, blockbusting, urban renewal, capital flights, planned shrinkage, the war on drugs, mass incarceration and serial displacement, and weaves a painful narrative of structural racism whose practices and consequences remain alive today.

In “Undesign the Redline,” designing the WE — a “social impact design studio” — illustrates this history in illuminating and sometimes painful detail. Currently on exhibit at the New York City offices of Enterprise Community Partners, this exhibit includes photography, maps, timelines and tools for community engagement, and puts present struggles for racial equality in historical perspective. Using housing policy as an anchor, Undesign the Redline makes it clear that segregation and persistent poverty are the natural outgrowth of a system that has explicitly divided people based on race. Continue reading Undesigning the Redline

New Book from Prof. Michael Fortner: Urban Citizenship and American Democracy

Michael Javen Fortner, Assistant Professor and Academic Director of Urban Studies at the Murphy Institute and author of the sensational “Black Silent Majority: The Rockefeller Drug Laws and the Politics of Punishment,” has released a new book: “Urban Citizenship and American Democracy,” co-edited by Amy Bridges:

After decades of being defined by crisis and limitations, cities are popular again as destinations for people and businesses, and as subjects of scholarly study. “Urban Citizenship and American Democracy” contributes to this new scholarship by exploring the origins and dynamics of urban citizenship in the United States. Written by both urban and nonurban scholars using a variety of methodological approaches, the book examines urban citizenship within particular historical, social, and policy contexts, including issues of political participation, public school engagement, and crime policy development. Contributors focus on enduring questions about urban political power, local government, and civic engagement to offer fresh theoretical and empirical accounts of city politics and policy, federalism, and American democracy.

Visit SUNY Press for more information or to pre-order your copy.

Flushing Re-zoning: a Threat to Affordable Housing?

In yesterday’s Gotham Gazette, Murphy Adjunct Professor Sam Stein, along with CUNY Professor Tarry Hum, wrote an op-ed about the “under the radar” re-zoning of an area some are calling “Flushing West” (Flushing’s Affordable Housing at Risk, 5/2/16).

According to Stein and Hum, this re-zoning threatens to destroy existing affordable housing by incentivizing real estate speculation. They write:

This proposed rezoning would have a transformative impact on Flushing, a densely populated, pan-Asian immigrant neighborhood with a sizable Latino population and a small but historic African-American community.[…]

Rent regulation accounts for nearly all of Flushing’s affordable housing. The neighborhood’s white-hot real estate market, however, increasingly threatens these rent-stabilized apartments.  DCP’s proposed rezoning – which links the production of affordable housing with the construction of thousands of luxury units – has only increased land speculation and, therefore, landlords’ imperative to deregulate their holdings. Though the rezoning has been paired with an increase in funding for anti-eviction legal services, it has already catalyzed a number of hyper-speculative real estate transactions in downtown Flushing, including within the rezoning area.

Meanwhile, the “affordable housing” that will be built as part of the plan will be meager and largely unaffordable to low-income residents: Continue reading Flushing Re-zoning: a Threat to Affordable Housing?

Brooklyn Youth Create Jobs (and Community Roots) Through Local Compost Program

This article was originally featured at YES! Magazine.

By Rebecca Nathanson

Snow covered most of the ground at El Garden, a community garden in the north Brooklyn neighborhood of Bushwick. The exception was the area around its three compost bins, shoveled out and made accessible to the six people who were working there. One of them was Gabrielle Mason. She wore a puffy pink jacket and kept her earbuds in while she scooped and sifted the bins’ contents. A year ago, she had never composted. Now, at 16 years old, she is the group’s lead composter and plans to study environmental issues.

“These community gardens really give them an opportunity to take back the community.”

Mason and the group form part of BK Rot, a youth-run composting service. Bushwick has a 31.4 percent poverty rate—compared to 15.8 percent nationally—and a population that is 65.4 percent Hispanic and 37 percent foreign-born. Continue reading Brooklyn Youth Create Jobs (and Community Roots) Through Local Compost Program