Recipient: Margaret Lobbig
Advisor: I-Chun Catherine Chang

Bottom-up and Everyday Experiences: an Alternative Look at Smart Urbanism in the Twin Cities

This project focuses on bottom-up and actor-oriented smart urbanism in the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. As cities across the world embrace smart urban initiatives, studies suggest that the current smart urbanism agenda operates on the assumption of technological modernization within a neoliberal framework, which can generate new forms of social inequality and uneven urban development. While valuable, this critical account of smart urbanism research fails to consider alternative, bottom-up forms of smart urbanism initiatives or to provide a close-up understanding of residents’ everyday experiences under smart urbanism. This project seeks to address this gap in the current literature by studying different smart urbanism initiatives in the Twin Cities and exploring the residents’ everyday experiences with smart technologies as well as with the city. We will use the findings to inform policy recommendations for smart urbanism initiatives in the Twin Cities area.


Recipient: Katie Jurenka
Advisor: Laura Smith

Resiliency to Changes in Urban Government Finance in Greater Minnesota

This research examines the geography of local government service provision and revenue sources in Greater Minnesota. Using a political economy perspective, the study explores if global changes in urban governance, particularly minimization of basic service provision and entrepreneurial methods of securing revenue, are applicable to Minnesotan cities considering state policy, geography and other important demographic factors. Preliminary findings demonstrate austerity measures in changes in expenditures but without significant basic service cuts or a large increase in entrepreneurial revenue collection. These findings demonstrate some resilience and variation in scale to neoliberal economic policies. [Jurenka Research Poster]


Recipient: Joe Huber
Advisor: Laura Smith

The Life and Death of the American Shopping Mall: An Analysis of Twin Cities Shopping Malls and Their Futures.

Cities today are seeing a dramatic change in their retail landscape.  With an increasing number of Americans shopping online, and a change in the products we purchase, shopping malls too are changing.  Malls across the country are closing and municipalities are debating how to respond.  This leads to the question, how has the design of enclosed shopping malls impacted their economic health and what are the policy responses cities are taking?

Few metropolitan areas in the country rival the role Minneapolis-St. Paul has played in national retail trends.  Southdale Center opened in 1956 as the nation’s first enclosed shopping mall, and the Mall of America opened in 1992 as the nation’s largest mall.  Now, regional malls like Brookdale Center have failed, and local municipalities are identifying and implementing policy responses.  This project will examine the changing retail landscape of the Twin Cities, focusing on the decline of enclosed shopping malls and assessing the effectiveness of potential policy responses.


Recipient: Erin Daly
Advisor: Laura Smith

Social Implications of Bicycle Infrastructure in America’s Best Cycling Cities

This project begins to address the purposeful and unintended social consequences of bicycle infrastructure improvements in America’s best cycling cities. Using Portland, Oregon and Minneapolis as case studies this research addresses two major questions. First, is there a causal link between the level of bicycle accessibility of a neighborhood and the level of gentrification occurring there? Additionally, what can be done to mitigate the negative social effects of this relationship, including policy and programmatic solutions? Quantitative considerations include GIS comparisons of neighborhood bicycle accessibility (lanes, trails and parking facilities) with housing and retail characteristics. These findings are considered in a broader social context based on interviews with relevant figures in Transportation Demand Management, social justice organizations and scholars. The results will address how negative externalities emerge in both Portland and Minneapolis, as well as how to use bicycle infrastructure as a tool for social justice moving forward.