The program on Urban Studies is delighted to announce our Departmental Research Program for 2022. This program provides funding for selected undergraduates to work on faculty-led research projects. Students will receive mentorship and supervision from the faculty member overseeing their project.

Urban Studies Departmental Research Program 2022

Students will also participate in cohort events with the other student researchers to discuss their ongoing research, build their research skills, and enhance a sense of community.

Quarters Available:

Winter, Spring, or Summer Quarters.

Winter and Spring Quarters. Part-time projects are available. Part-time projects are expected to occupy approximately 10 hours per week. Check listings below by clicking the heading for the quarter you are interested in.

Summer: June 20 – August 26. Both part-time and full-time projects will be available.

  • Full-time means devoting 35+ hours/week for 10 consecutive weeks, i.e., it is the student's primary activity that quarter.
  • Students with a full time grant cannot receive an additional VPUE part-time grant within the same quarter.
  • Full-time VPUE Faculty/Department Grant student recipients are not permitted to engage in another full-time internship, job, or volunteer opportunity (whether funded by Stanford or otherwise), unless their faculty mentors or program mentors have approved these arrangements.

Enrollment & Academic Standing

  • Students must be current undergraduates in good standing at Stanford.

  • Students must be enrolled in units while using VPUE grant funding, except during the Summer. 

  • Students may not receive both academic units and a stipend for any single project activity.

  • Co-terms who have not conferred their undergraduate degree and who are still paying undergraduate (not graduate) tuition are eligible for VPUE funding.

  • Students may not be serving a suspension.

  • Students may not be on a Leave of Absence (LOA) while using grant funding. 

  • VPUE does not use a GPA requirement for student eligibility, nor does VPUE encourage the use of GPA as a criterion for inclusion in a research opportunity.

Stipend:

Part-time projects: $1500 per quarter; 10 hours / week.

Full-time projects: $7500 + up to $1500 based on financial need and student qualification. Read more about stipends.

Housing:

Participating in projects (whether part-time or full-time) does NOT make a student eligible to live on campus. 

Deadline for Spring & Summer Quarter applications: 

February, 15th at 11:59pm

For more information, contact Michael Kahan @mkahan@stanford.edu

Winter Quarter Projects

Genealogies of PAR: Interrogating the Ideological Assumptions of the “Founders” of Participatory Action Research

Faculty: Dr. Joanne Tien, Haas Center for Public Service

Community-based or participatory research arose in response to critiques of the positivist view of science, in which knowledge is understood as “objective,” generalizable, and power-neutral. In contrast, community-based or participatory action research advocates non-hierarchical relationships between researcher and participants, the examination of researchers’ positionality in the research process, the centering of community participants in defining, analyzing and solving the research problem, and the use of research for the explicit purpose of benefiting and empowering oppressed communities. In so doing, community-based research (CBR) promises to provide a means to produce “socially just” or “ethical” scholarship. Though scholars have complicated the assumption that CBR is able to do this without question, CBR is still often regarded as a “silver bullet” to producing ethical research. This project calls these assumptions into question by examining the origins of participatory action research and the ideological assumptions of its founders. While participatory action research draws on critical, feminist, and decolonial traditions, it also has roots in academic social science. In fact, John Collier, former Commissioner of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, is often regarded as among its original “founders”. This historical archival project examines the records of John Collier, as well as secondary sources, to understand his ideological assumptions as it related to issues of race and colonialism, and how these intersected with his conceptualization of action research. This project then compares these perspectives with that of participatory action research as understood through critical, feminist, and decolonial traditions. By examining the assumptions behind the many traditions that have influenced CBR today, this study illuminates the complexities involved in practicing CBR and producing ethical scholarship in university-based settings.

Research Tasks: Develop an annotated bibliography on the history of what we call participatory action research today. This bibliography will include sources from action research (John Collier, Kurt Lewin, etc.), as well as from critical pedagogy, and feminist and decolonial traditions. The bibliography will be used to write a literature review. The undergraduate RA will also help with systematically analyzing archival data from the records of John Collier, which I have already collected from his archives at Yale. I have data from several reels of microfilm that have been saved as .pdf documents. The undergraduate RA will support with going through the microfilm to identify records directly related to Collier's writing on action research. I will teach the RA how to code the data for major themes. Together, we will develop a codebook and analyze the data, using multiple iterations of coding. From this analysis the RA and I will co-write an article for publication.

Qualifications: It would be helpful if the RA had a background in critical, feminist, or decolonial theory or traditions of research, or community-based research / service-learning. I can support with teaching skills such as coding. 

Schedule: Part-time

Apply in SOLO here


 

Our Voice - Citizen Science for Health Equity

Faculty: Prof. Abby C. King, Epidemiology and Population Health, Stanford Medical School

Our Voice is a global research initiative that aims to provide community members from all backgrounds, cultures, and walks of life with the skills and support to help improve local environments to advance health equity. The Our Voice research method consists of 4 steps (Discover, Discuss, Activate, and Change) and starts with an easy-to-use, multilingual mobile app that allows users to record geotagged photos, comments and ratings about community features impacting health and health behaviors. After using the app to gather physical and social environmental data, Our Voice “citizen scientists” work with others in a facilitated process, to review collective data and identify and prioritize areas for change, focusing on feasibility. They then share their findings and recommendations with local decision makers and work together to make change happen. This citizen science method has been successfully adapted for projects on the Stanford campus, across the Bay Area and the US, and in more than 20 other countries. The focus of individual Our Voice projects spans food access; walkability/bikeability; safe routes to school; age-friendly communities; access to parks and other green spaces; gender-based violence; and general well-being and inclusiveness in diverse communities.

Research Tasks: Our HARTS Lab, in which the Our Voice Initiative is housed, is currently supporting over 30 local and global Our Voice projects. In gaining exposure to the full range of projects, students who work with us build knowledge about project planning and implementation as well as community-based participatory research methods; digital health data capture and visualization; working with diverse populations and cultures across the socio-economic continuum; and interdisciplinary and inter-cultural research. This research assistant’s role will focus specifically on data gathering and cross-site analysis across our national and global projects. Our lab is multi-cultural, collaborative, and supportive of all members, including students. We often find that we learn as much from students as they learn from us!

Qualifications: Strong interest in community-based participatory research with diverse underrepresented communities; openness to learning about and employing qualitative research methods; strong communication and listening skills; superior work ethic; and ideally some track-record of working effectively with underserved populations.

Schedule: Part-time

Apply in SOLO Here

Spring & Summer Quarter Projects

Spring Projects

The Annex: Violence and Care in Mexico City

Faculty: Angela Garcia

I am completing an ethnography tentatively called The Annex that will be published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in 2023. The book is about the proliferation of coercive addiction treatment centers in Mexico city and how these centers have transformed into sanctuary spaces for teenagers and young adults at risk of criminal violence. It also examines how these centers have become embedded within low-income housing structures and the difficult decisions families face about whether to commit their children to them. The book blends scholarship on architecture, urban design, history, anthropology, and health care. The focus is on Mexico City.

Research Tasks: The RA will be responsible for locating scholarship in areas related to the book and creating a bibliography of key works. This bibliography will help me to develop a bibliographic essay that will be part of the book. The RA will develop knowledge about the scholarship areas defined above, the location and use of library resources, database research skills and bibliographies. More generally, they will learn research methods that will enable them to develop their own research projects.

Qualifications: I am looking for an upper-class RA with competent and demonstrated research skills, including the development of a focused bibliography.

Schedule: Spring, part-time

Apply in SOLO here


 

The Lung is a Fish and a Bird

Faculty: Lochlann Jain

The Lung is a Bird and Fish, analyzes the history of the discovery of air, and specifically, of human and animal respiration, based on archival research including medical reports, patents, visual cultures, and literature, as well as an in-depth review of related secondary materials in medicine, the military, law, advertising, and science. This book has two overarching goals. Conceptually, I aim to expand the vocabulary of the social sciences by using drawing as a key method, framing device, and output. In terms of content, I seek to examine the history of the differential effects of air and put this in conversation with the possible futures for human life in the increasingly degraded atmospheric conditions of the Anthropocene.

Research Tasks: Depending on the student's skills and interests, they can assist with: pursuing and attaining permissions for image use; photoshopping images for printing; tracking down, reading, and discussion research materials. Skills will include: development of analytic, research and organizational skills in relation to a multi-year advanced research project.

Qualifications: Excellent organizational skills, photoshop experience and desire to learn.

Schedule: Spring, part-time

Apply in SOLO here


 

Water Wars: Investigating Urban Disputes Over Water Resources on the Central Coast

Faculty: Carol McKibben

Droughts and floods are not new to California, and agricultural needs conflicted with the needs of town and city dwellers throughout California history. However, climate change has added a new dimension to the debates over water. This project will explore the politics surrounding water rights (and fights) between towns and cities in the Central Coast region in the context of a rapidly changing climate as part of a new book project. Although most policy makers agree that regional solutions are needed to deal with the severe water shortages brought on by the normal droughts and floods but made worse by climate change, municipalities and interest groups rarely find common ground. City governments disagree (sometimes fiercely) over issues ranging from the construction of desalinization plants to prioritizing wildlife over human needs, to the importance of water to support the billion dollar agricultural industry. The goal of this project and book is to analyze the history and politics of the Central Coasts region's water problems and to shape a narrative for a better understanding of water as part and parcel of the climate change debate.

Research Tasks: A good solid literature review is most needed and the most important task for a research assistant at this early stage. An RA would need to be able to investigate the multiple sources, including scholarly literature in disciplines ranging from sociology, political science, environmental justice, to name a few, but also primary sources such as EIRs.

Qualifications: Someone who has some experience in research and writing a research paper, and is comfortable with analyzing scholarly papers and reports.

Schedule: Spring, part-time

Apply in SOLO here


 

The Educational Opportunity Project (EOP)

Faculty: Sean Reardon

The Educational Opportunity Project (EOP) is a research project using data to inform education policy and impact educational opportunity. The EOP houses the Stanford Education Data Archive (SEDA), a unique database with measures of student achievement, achievement gaps, and educational outcomes for 3-8th graders in nearly every public school in the United States. SEDA is the first 10-year archive of nationwide education test score data (now including over 430 million standardized test scores from 2009-2018) and is designed to provide scholars, policymakers, educators, and journalists with detailed information on patterns of educational opportunity.

Research Tasks: The RA will be assigned a research topic related to the EOP’s work to study over the course of the term. Past topics include: Native American student education in the U.S., the education system in Puerto Rico, broadband access, and student testing opt-out. The RA will prepare a formal write up of their findings and give a presentation on their work at an EOP research staff meeting at the end of the term. The RA may also work on a variety of other short-term research related tasks, including but not limited to conducting background research on other relevant topics, preparing briefs, cleaning data, updating databases, etc.

Qualifications: Interest in education, education policy, and social and educational inequality is desirable. Strong ability to work independently, initiative, and attention to detail is an asset. Experience using quantitative data for research and/or familiarity using Stata is a plus but not necessary for this role.

Schedule: Spring and summer, part-time

Apply in SOLO here


Summer Projects

Governing Urban and Rural Poverty

Faculty: Michelle Wilde Anderson

Decades of cuts to local government have wreaked havoc on communities left behind by the modern economy. Some of these discarded places are rural, others are urban. Some are conservative, some are progressive. Some are the most diverse communities in America, others are segregated. All are routinely trashed by outsiders for their poverty and their politics. Mostly, their governments are just broke. When a high-poverty city or county has run out of services to cut, properties to sell, bills to defer, and risky loans to take, what should its leaders do to ameliorate the harms of concentrated poverty? In the spring of 2022, I will be publishing a book for a general audience on these topics, which is called “The Fight to Save the Town: Reimagining Discarded America.” Following its publication, I will be publishing a website, twitter stream, long-form feature articles, an academic article, and other content continuing to develop the themes in the book. My summer 2022 RA would be involved in several of these projects, depending on their interest/experience.

Research Tasks: Editing; research from social science, urban history, and local news sources; website content creation; creation of tables.

Qualifications: Strong writing, editing, and research background; website/blog/social media experience; interest in topics of poverty and inequality. Experience with creating excel-based tables and graphics is a plus.

Schedule: Summer, part-time

Apply in SOLO here


 

Understanding Public Perceptions of Affordable Housing

Faculty: Sarah Billington

One reason for the lack of affordable housing in the Bay Area, in particular for low- and very-low income families seems to be a result of communities perceiving affordable housing in a negative light and therefore taking action to prevent affordable housing from being built. Our collaborative research seeks to answer the following questions: (1) What are people’s perceptions of what counts as affordable housing projects? (2) What aspects of building design are prevalent in the public's mental model of affordable housing? (3) Do certain perceptions of “what counts as affordable housing” and "what features affordable housing includes" differ between those who are motivated to take action (either support or resist) and those who do not? Are We will conduct online surveys, review local project successes and failures, and conduct in-depth, in-person interviews.

Research Tasks: Assist in creating surveys in Qualtrics; Code qualitative data using e.g., NVivo or Dedoose; Analyze data using R and other statistical software; Review local project data through city council meeting records, social media, and news organizations.

Qualifications: A statistics class and knowledge of R is a plus, but not required.

Schedule: Summer, full-time

Apply in SOLO here


 

Before and Beyond Displacement: Gentrification, Residential Instability, and Racial Inequality

Faculty: Jackelyn Hwang

While moving itself can be detrimental, gentrification pushes residents to live in crowded conditions, substandard housing, and in financial precarity before evictions or other forms of forced displacement ever take place and affects residents beyond the move by constraining where movers end up. We know less about the precarious situations that residents live in before and beyond displacement, gentrification’s role in this process, and the mechanisms that drive differential outcomes by race. This project examines how gentrification affects low-income residents' residential stability before and beyond displacement and how this varies by race in the Bay Area. The project will involve collecting and analyzing survey and interview data in the City of Oakland and analyzing existing datasets on demographic, financial, and housing conditions in relation to gentrification and housing programs and policies.

Research Tasks: The research assistant will assist with the following activities: (1) implement surveys and conduct interviews with Oakland residents; (2) assist with cleaning and analyzing quantitative and qualitative data; (3) produce visualizations of results; and (4) gather background information on specific policies, developments, and cities. They will develop skills in mixed-methods data collection and analysis and data visualization and will advance their knowledge on neighborhood change, segregation, and housing policies.

Qualifications: Strong communication skills; experience with R, qualitative coding, and/or data visualization is a plus.

Schedule: Summer, full-time

Apply in SOLO here


 

The Educational Opportunity Project (EOP)

Faculty: Sean Reardon

The Educational Opportunity Project (EOP) is a research project using data to inform education policy and impact educational opportunity. The EOP houses the Stanford Education Data Archive (SEDA), a unique database with measures of student achievement, achievement gaps, and educational outcomes for 3-8th graders in nearly every public school in the United States. SEDA is the first 10-year archive of nationwide education test score data (now including over 430 million standardized test scores from 2009-2018) and is designed to provide scholars, policymakers, educators, and journalists with detailed information on patterns of educational opportunity.

Research Tasks: The RA will be assigned a research topic related to the EOP’s work to study over the course of the term. Past topics include: Native American student education in the U.S., the education system in Puerto Rico, broadband access, and student testing opt-out. The RA will prepare a formal write up of their findings and give a presentation on their work at an EOP research staff meeting at the end of the term. The RA may also work on a variety of other short-term research related tasks, including but not limited to conducting background research on other relevant topics, preparing briefs, cleaning data, updating databases, etc.

Qualifications: Interest in education, education policy, and social and educational inequality is desirable. Strong ability to work independently, initiative, and attention to detail is an asset. Experience using quantitative data for research and/or familiarity using Stata is a plus but not necessary for this role.

Schedule: Spring and summer, part-time

Apply in SOLO here