Recipient: Milosz Fernandez-Kepka
Advisors: Laura Smith and Dan Trudeau
Intentional Public Spaces: Designing Vibrant and Inclusive Cities
Recipient: Cecelia Kaufmann
Advisors: Dan Trudeau
“Separate and Not Equal”: Navigating Higher Education in the Twin Cities for People with Physical Disabilities
This research lays the foundation to consider what barriers and supports exist for students, staff, and faculty with physical disabilities in higher education institutions in the Twin Cities. Throughout the summer I connected with and interviewed members and advocates of the disability community, which in turn highlighted their narratives and experiences of what is accessible and inaccessible. Given the research focus stems from the gaps in literature of firsthand experiences of people with physical disabilities in higher education, the next steps of this work include expanding the number of participants, creating an even more inclusive approach to this work. To build further, the hope is this work will influence the decision-making processes at higher education institutions across the Twin Cities as they work to create a more inclusive environment. Further, this research hopes to raise the question: what does inclusive and accessible mean for people with physical disabilities across the spectrum and what can what can decision makers do to create an accessible environment?
Recipient: Becca Gallandt
Advisor: Dan Trudeau
Visualizing Public Space Research: A Digital Public Scholarship Initiative
This research focused on generating creative and compelling visualizations to communicate the findings from research examining how people use and perceive public space to a public audience. The first initiative of the project involved working with students in Professor Trudeau’s Urban Geography class, creating custom digital visuals to support the communication of their research on the accessibility of public parks in Saint Paul. The second aspect of this project involved developing a digital “StoryMap” tailored to a public audience, examining how Lake Phalen Regional Park is an inclusive and welcoming environment for park users. The work on both project initiatives allowed me to develop and advance skills in communicating social science research in a public scholarship format.
A Field Guide to Public Spaces
Recipient: Finn Odum
Advisor: Eric Carter
Twin Pandemics: COVID and Conspiracy in Digital Spaces
(Note: This project evolved out of the COVID-19 pandemic and shifting research guidelines and opportunities.)
Though this thesis was originally intended to be an in-person research experience concerning food accessibility in the St. Paul Midway area, it was reconstructed into a remote project focused on the COVID-19 pandemic and the spread of health misinformation. The belief in COVID-19 conspiracies and misinformation has had a direct impact on public health, politics, and disease dispersion in the United States. Turning from physical places to digital spaces, this research asks, how do health conspiracies take advantage of digital infrastructures to spread and transform into ‘knowledge’? In this research I examine the development of three online conspiracy narratives, how they traveled from private social spaces to mainstream media discourse, and the tools they used to assert authority over traditional health experts. Preliminary research indicates that the acknowledgment of conspiracies in mainstream media validates the narratives for conspiracists, who use socio-political fears to fuel their growing ‘alternative truths’. Findings from this research will provide recommendations for methods of approaching conspiracies in digital spaces, as well as suggestions for how digital infrastructures can manage or mitigate the spread of misinformation.
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.