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Urban Studies Summer Research Program 2020

Urban Studies Student Presenting Research Poster

The program on Urban Studies is delighted to announce our Summer Research Program for 2020. 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 22 – August 28. 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 2020. 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:

When funding and project descriptions are confirmed, a webform will be available here. For information, contact Michael Kahan at

Deadline for applications: Feb.24, 2020, 12:00 noon


A) Gentrification and Displacement in the West. Faculty: Jackelyn Hwang, Sociology

This project will examine the consequences of gentrification and declining housing affordability in the Bay Area and other regions in the West (in the U.S.) with a focus on residential displacement. The project will involve analyzing patterns of residential mobility in relation to neighborhood changes and housing and development policies, including examining anti-displacement policy efforts. The research assistant will assist with the following activities: (1) map and compile results as table and figures; (2) assist in developing policy reports and academic publications; and (3) gather background information on specific policies, developments, and cities in the West. Skills emphasized: quantitative analysis; proficiency in Excel and R; experience with ArcGIS or using spatial data in R is a plus.

B) Local Government Spending and Local Poverty Rates. Faculty: Michelle Wilde Anderson, Law.

I would be delighted to host and mentor an urban studies student for full-time research in the summer of 2020.  The student would spend their summer focused on research that seeks to answer the following question:  How do local government spending and services vary depending on local poverty rates?  Currently and through next summer, I am engaged in two projects related to this topic: (1) a large-scale, national empirical analysis of municipal spending and poverty, co-authored with a political scientist at UC Merced named Jessica Trounstine, and (2) a narrative, trade press book about the collapse in local government services and finance in places of long-term deindustrialization and chronic poverty.  For the first project, an RA would work with me and Professor Trounstine on compiling and presenting our data, editing an article manuscript with our results, and helping to update our literature review on the topic.  On the second project, my book will be going through an edit with my publisher at that time, and an RA would have some responsibility for factchecking and final research related to the main government services emphasized in the book (policing, anti-violence efforts beyond the police department, adult skill development, youth development, and housing policy).  This project will be well suited for students interested in why and to what extent the quality of local government services reflects the segregation of wealth and poverty into different tax jurisdictions.

C) Salinas History Project: From Steinbeck to AgTech—Struggling for Common Purpose in Salinas, California. Faculty: Carol McKibben, Urban Studies.

This project utilizes qualitative and quantitative sources to uncover the rich history of Salinas, the urban center for one of the richest agricultural regions in California and the nation. Students would spend the summer working with project director, historian and Stanford urban studies lecturer, Dr. Carol Lynn McKibben, tracing demographic changes through census data and social explorer in order to uncover issues of socioeconomic inequality, political representation, and racial segregation in neighborhoods in Salinas, 1970-present day.

D) Urban Renewal and Collective Memory. Faculty: Michael Kahan, Urban Studies.

Urban renewal was more than a physical transformation of American cities; it was a profound psychological event. If, as Aldo Rossi argued, a city’s memory is preserved in its buildings, the trauma of urban renewal is tantamount to a loss of urban memory; at the same time, the process of removal and “renewal” left deep scars on the memories of individuals and communities, especially communities of color.

The complex relationship between urban renewal and collective memory raises an important question: how is urban renewal remembered? In recent years, communities throughout the United States have grappled with the memory of urban renewal in a number of ways – through walking tours, Facebook groups, and calls for public memorials. This project will survey the landscape of urban renewal in public memory, with a focus on public sites of memory such as museum exhibits and historic markers. The student will help in locating and analyzing such sites using online and published sources and, where available locally, possible site visits as well.