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Urban Studies Summer Research Program 2019

Urban Studies Student Presenting Research Poster

The program on Urban Studies is delighted to announce our Summer Research Program for 2019. This program provides funding for selected undergraduates to work full-time during the summer on faculty-led research projects. Students will receive mentorship and supervision from the faculty member overseeing their project. Students will also participate in cohort events with the other student researchers, such as regular group lunches, to discuss their ongoing research, build their research skills, and enhance a sense of community.


June 24 – August 30. This is expected to be a full-time (40 hours per week), 10-week commitment. Participating students may not register for more than 5 units of summer coursework, and may not work for more than 10 hours per week outside of their project experience.




The program is open to undergraduate Stanford students in all majors, as well as undeclared students. Students must be enrolled as undergraduates at Stanford in both the spring and autumn quarters of 2019. Participating students may not register for more than 5 units of summer coursework, and must not work for more than 10 hours per week outside of their project experience. Students may not receive course credit for the summer project experience itself. Students may not receive more than $9000 in VPUE funding during a single academic year; the summer research program cannot be taken in the same summer as a Haas Summer Fellowship, a VPUE Major Grant, or a Chappell-Lougee Scholarship.


For students who want to apply for on-campus summer housing, room, board, house dues, and other academic expenses are paid by the student. Students are responsible for paying their university summer bill, which will include any other academic expenses incurred.

To Apply:

Complete the webform, and send a current resume and unofficial transcript to Michael Kahan at

Deadline for applications: Feb. 25, 2019, 12:00 noon


A Pattern Language of Sustainable Development.

Faculty: Deland Chan, Urban Studies

This research project aims to identify measures of sustainability and examine trends and changes in sustainability policy over time. The research assistant will be involved with: (1) contributing to a searchable database of U.S. sustainability plans, (2) coding a subset of plans by building blocks (e.g., water, building efficiency, housing, renewable energy), and (3) analyzing trends in building blocks and contributing to a written summary of emerging patterns.

Student responsibilities: Gathering sustainability and climate adaptation plans, extracting text from plans, managing database, reviewing secondary sources

Skills emphasized: Strong interest in sustainability policy; qualitative coding and analysis, database management


Gentrification and Displacement in the Bay Area.

Faculty: Jackelyn Hwang, Sociology

This project will examine the consequences of gentrification and declining housing affordability in the Bay Area with a focus on residential displacement. The project will involve examining anti-displacement policy efforts and analyzing patterns of residential mobility in relation to neighborhood changes and housing and development policies.

Student Responsibilities: The research assistant will assist with the following activities: (1) review literature on anti-displacement policies; (2) map and compile results on gentrification and displacement in the Bay Area; and, (3) develop reports for publication. Experience or interest in gaining experience with spatial data is a plus.

Skills emphasized: Quantitative analysis with Excel, Stata, or R; spatial analysis with ArcGIS or R; secondary research in academic literature.

Defining Smart Cities: Technology, Policy, and Ethics.

Faculty: Kincho Law, Mike Lepech, Civil and Environmental Engineering

This proposed research project aims to understand how various actors, whether municipalities, non-profit organizations, and private sector companies, are implementing "smart city” policies in the delivery of urban services. The research assistant will conduct a literature review and original data collection in two areas: (i) how cities articulate their smart city policies in public documents, identifying ontologies and tracing the evolution of policy priorities over time, (ii) specific use cases of how technology deployment in cities raise ethical dilemmas. Specific topics may include algorithm bias in policing; data privacy and risk management; and new mobility solutions and conflicting impacts on different populations.

Student responsibilities: Gathering case studies, reviewing available data sources, creating a database, interviewing academic and industry experts

Skills emphasized: Strong writing and communication skills; basic (web-) computing and data analysis skills; qualitative interviewing


Salinas History Project.

Faculty: Carol McKibben, Urban Studies

This community-based history project will result in the writing of a new history of the city of Salinas in the post-World War II period, based on primary sources that have never been used by other researchers. These include a complete set of minutes of the Growers’ Association, a run of the local labor union newspaper, and numerous documents on labor relations, city general plans, city reports, ethnic communities (Asian and Hispanic) found in city archives, the Grower Shipper Association basement, and the Monterey County Historical Association vault. These sources provide new insights into a city that is critical to the history of agriculture in California and the United States, and into the development of race, ethnicity, and “agricultural urbanism” in the twentieth century.

Student Responsibilities: The student researcher will assist in culling information from primary sources by reading and annotating newspapers, association minutes, and other documents.

Skills emphasized: Archival historical research, qualitative analysis, quantitative research--especially with regard to population analysis.


Where Self-Interest Trumps Ideology: The Constrained Politics of Suburban Liberals

Faculty: Clayton Nall, Political Science

This project uses two survey experiments to investigate whether homeowners in 20 US metropolitan areas support additional, higher density housing in their communities, and whether this support is correlated with political ideology.

Student Responsibilities: assist in the design, testing, fielding, and analysis of public opinion surveys; search and code suburbanites' public comments on key public issues; aid in the conduct of structured interview research on the foundations of suburbanites' exclusionary attitudes.

Skills emphasized: Data analysis for survey research.