Join us for the Piketty Party this Friday at 5pm!


Rockstar and Economist are rarely heard in the same sentence. Thomas Piketty has changed that. He’ll be giving a talk here at the New School on October 3 but tickets have long been sold out. You can try your luck waiting for no-shows to free up some seats OR you can join Urban Sessions & the Graduate Urban Programs at Parsons for our Piketty Watch Party.

We will be live-streaming the talk on campus at 63 5th Avenue in room 515. There will be informed conversations, lively debate, pizza and light refreshments available!

Following the live stream we will be discussing what Urban Sessions does, introduce upcoming projects from Graduate Urban Programs at Parson, and give more information on international work/study opportunities.


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Check out the work that the International Field Program did this past summer in Buenos Aires!

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GPIA student Maria Carrizosa presented on her extraordinary work in in organizing the Convive Contest, in Colombia.

This was a presentation about a Colombian architecture and planning contest open to undergraduate programs in various Latin American countries (Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Mexico, Panama an Peru). The contest begun 9 years ago and has been growing at a great pace in scope, relevance and number of participants. After describing the process and its accomplishments, the talk’s purpose was to gather ideas ways to shape this initiative’s most recent plan: a Foundation aimed to promote the implementation of the winning proposals.

Maria project

Maria project2

Maria project3

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GPIA student Lena Simet presented the findings of her Thesis, which addressed the following research questions:

  1. Are rising inequalities a necessary evil in the process of urban development, or are they the byproduct of neoliberal policy choices, even being applied intentionally? 
  2. Are current housing policies in New York and Buenos Aires contributing to increasing, decreasing, and/or reinforcing spatial inequalities within these cities?


Here some of her findings:

Economic prosperity is often the primary goal of policy makers. Achieving it, however, fails to benefit every citizen equally. The cities of Buenos Aires and New York City, which rank today among the wealthiest and most attractive cities worldwide, also rank among the most unequal. This study investigates how state intervention projects reinforce existing socio-spatial inequalities within cities. Special attention is given to affordable housing policies, as both Buenos Aires and New York spend substantial sums of money on affordable housing, with inadequate and even insignificant results. Drastic increases in homelessness and informal settlements burden both cities, illustrating the consequences of insufficient access to affordable housing, one of the greatest failures of urban policy makers. As recent developments in Buenos Aires and New York City demonstrate, growth-focused state intervention projects thrust neighborhoods into spheres of economic competition, shaping the urban spatial structure in ways that reinforce existing patterns of socio-spatial inequality.


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Slum sanitation in Mumbai: Transnational networks and Urban Policy Making

Doctoral candidate Achilles Kallergis presented his current research on slum sanitation in Mumbai. His principle research questions are:

  • How transnational advocacy networks generate policy change?
  • Can they generate deeper institutional changes?
    • At what price? (question of efficiency vs. equity).

His Hypothesis is that the multiple streams model can help us understand the creation of a policy window and the elaboration of participatory sanitation delivery. The movement infrastructure model can help us understand the impact of transnational networks on the policy structure.

Some of his findings:

  • The combination of the multiple streams and the movement infrastructure models seem to provide an adequate framework for the analysis of the particular case.
  • What seems to have been a shifting point was the coalition between slum dwellers movement, SPARC (an NGO-professionals) and the WB (policy entrepreneurs?).
  • It seems that the infrastructure of the slum movement has played significant role in pursuing policies of service provision through a participatory approach.
  • Therefore, based on this case we can argue that there is a policy change and perhaps a shift in the power relations within the institutional arena.

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The Illegality of Innovation: Cities Climate Change and the Build Environment

GPIA student Michael Palmieri presented his ideas for a research paper for the course “Global Urban Futures”.

His ideas surrounded the following concepts:

Climate Change and Cities
Half of worlds population lives on or near coastlines, and most major cities in both global north and south are on coastlines, we have left the “envelope of regularity”; should new urban growth be channeled away from high risk sites?

The Right to the City
Traditional approach versus a potential new approach rooting in the material reality

Illegality of Innovation
Innovations from the ground-level tend to first be illegal and only once success is established  projects begin to negotiate with the government – should the state provide more space for “illegal innovations”? Cited examples were the Floating School in Makoko Lagos, Michael Reynold’s Earth Ship Biotecture, SDI/ Mahila Mila/ SPARC)

Floating school

Modernization and Progress
Are these two words synonyms or contradictions? After all human adaptive capacities are outpacing adaptive capacity of policy as illegal or ‘undervalorized’ (Sassen/Jabeen)

Can  illegal innovations contribute to achieving the right to the city?

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Post-Growth in the Global South: The Emergence of Alternatives to Development in Latin America

Doctoral student Rebecca Hollender presented her research paper on development alternatives in Latin America. Here is the abstract to her paper:

The gradual rejection of official development processes by Latin American civil society mirrors a wider exhaustion and abandonment of development taking place across many levels and scales across the Global South. Alternatives to Development are just one example of many post-growth frameworks that address the urgent need to limit economic activity to within the biophysical limits of the planet. The emergence of Alternatives to Development in Latin America can be seen as the reaction of civil society to four interrelated political, social, and economic processes: 1. the expansion of the extractive development model despite its detrimental impacts; 2. the disillusionment with progressive governments to bring forth alternatives; 3. the obstacles facing regional integration; and 4. regional geo- politics and the rise of Brazil as regional hegemon. Proposals including Buen Vivir, Post-extractivism, and local-level lived initiatives (solidarity economies, etc.) are gaining headway beyond the grassroots level where they first took form. As they reach academic and policy circles, proposals transform from conceptual-based values, principles, and ideologies into technical and policy recommendations. The convergence of Latin American alternatives with processes and proposals from other regions reveals that, beyond national contexts, local movements trace their problems to a global system. Despite facing serious obstacles to implementation, the resulting alternatives to development proposals have important potential for transforming the embedded assumptions, structures, processes, and policies of the development model and global economy.

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Join us for our first Laboratory of ideas!

Wednesday lunchtime 12:00-1:30pm

Bring your own lunch; we will have coffee and tea for you

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