Sustainability has become orthodoxy in urban planning, which has sometimes meant that cities uncritically adopt measures labeled in this manner. In response, the lab’s research in this area addresses the pressing need to problematize the motivations and effects of urban sustainability initiatives. Examples of research on critical sustainability studies include analyses of green gentrification, urban climate adaptation, food privilege, and the role of communities in greening and environmental stewardship.
Healthy urban environments are not evenly distributed. The lab’s research in this area addresses the need to better understand the patterns of health inequality embedded in urbanization processes and the pathways and actors that generate these patterns. Examples of research on urbanization, health, and equity include analyses of urban health disparities, built form and health, and how policymaking processes impact health outcomes.
There are numerous examples where global norms shape outcomes in cities to a greater extent than local conditions. Real estate dynamics, economic development, and the distribution of access to opportunities within individual cities are often impacted by decisions made on a global scale. The lab’s research in this area addresses the need to understand how these processes shape urban environmental outcomes. Examples of studies focused on GLOBAL urban environments include comparative analyses of the global north and south, the role of financialization in shaping local environments, and regional political ecologies.
The study of urban environmental justice is built on a foundation of spatial analyses of the distribution of environmental harms and qualitative case studies of particular communities. The lab’s work in this area seeks to develop a next generation of methods for analyzing urban environmental justice. Research in this area is focused on developing comprehensive spatial analytic tools that measure a wide range of environmental conditions for use in research and policy environments, and a robust mixed methods model for comparative environmental justice studies.