Faculty Publications

Boston University is home to a diverse range of faculty experts covering urban issues from public health and youth engagement to historic preservation and economic development. We are proud to provide access to BU faculty publications focused on these challenges and more, organized by Urban Prosperity, Urban Function, and Urban Management.

Urban Prosperity: Children and Families

Publication

Strategies for Engaging Foster Care Youth in Permanency Planning Family Team Conferences

Author: Astraea Augsberger
School: School of Social Work
Professor Augsberger examines how conference facilitators engage foster care youths in decision-making at permanency planning family team conferences. Professor Augsberger identifies four effective strategies facilitators use: creating a safe space, encouraging youth voices, rebalancing power, and establishing a connection. These strategies may have wider implications in engaging and working with foster care youth.
Full text here.
Keywords: foster care, youth

Children of Female Sex Workers and Drug Users: A Review of Vulnerability, Resilience and Family-centred Models of Care

Author: Jonathan L. Simon
School: School of Public Health
Description: While research on the effects of parental drug use and sex work on children in developed countries is well documented, there is little research on its impact on children of developing countries. In a paper with his colleagues, School of Public Health Professor Jonathan Simon work to uncover information about these children and the impact maternal drug use and sex work has on their lives. Professor Simon and his colleagues found that identifying children of drug users and sex workers is challenging, increasing their vulnerability and marginalization. Professor Simon’s paper indicates the need for developing new models of identifying and targeting these children in order to better serve their needs and increase resiliency.
Full text here.
Keywords: children, sex work, substance abuse

Waiting for Mr. Right: Rising Inequality and Declining Marriage Rates

Author: Daniele Paserman and Eric D. Gould
School: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Economics
Paserman examines the relationship between female marriage rates within cities and male wage inequalities. Marriage rates are affected by longer female search periods brought about by an increase in male inequalities (more options). Higher male inequality may also correlate with lower marriage rates because single women tend to move to cities with higher male inequality. Published in Centre for Economic Policy Research.
Full text here.
Keywords: marriage, inequality, re-location

Conceptualizing Housing Careers for Vulnerable Youth: Implications for Research and Policy

Author: Mary Elizabeth Collins
School: School of Social Work
This study examines the housing outcomes for former foster youths and their risk for homelessness or home instability. By identifying frameworks to study housing outcomes and housing careers, Professor Collins and her colleagues are able to point to potential shortcomings in current policies. Using their findings, Professor Collins identifies the implications current and potential policies may have on these youths.
Full text here.
Keywords: homelessness, foster care, youth, housing

Services and Outcomes for Transition-age Foster Care Youths: Youths’ Perspectives

Author: Mary Elizabeth Collins
School: School of Social Work
Professor Collins examines the transitional-related services former foster youths received both prior to and after age 18. She looks at the impact these services had on the youths’ outcomes after age 18 through both qualitative and quantitative data. Her research and its outcomes may be beneficial to further development of transition services available to current and future foster youths to better their outcomes outside the foster care system.
Full text here.
Keywords: homelessness, foster care, youth, housing

Training as a Factor in Policy Implementation: Lessons from a National Evaluation of Child Welfare Training

Author: Mary Elizabeth Collins
School: School of Social Work
In the first ever multi-site evaluation of the child welfare training system, Professor Collins and her colleagues examine the success of implementing additional child welfare staff trainings to rectify issues in the system. The study points to the importance of context in successful training implementation, but also find that trainings were largely unsuccessful in linking training activities to training outcomes. Professor Collins and her colleagues use their findings to conclude on “the utility of training for enhancing policy implementation.”
Full text here.
Keywords: children, foster care, youth, public policy

Influencing Policy for Youth Transitioning From Care: Defining Problems, Crafting Solutions, and Assessing Politics

Author: Mary Elizabeth Collins
School: School of Social Work
Professor Collins and her colleague conducted qualitative interviews with “policy and program stakeholders” on the subject of the transition process for foster youth out of the foster care system. The information gathered from these interviews has been complied to identify necessary policy and program changes to better serve the transitional youth.
Full text here.
Keywords: foster care, youth

The Permanence of Family Ties: Implications for Youth Transitioning From Foster Care

Author: Ruth Paris
School: School of Social Work
Professor Paris and her colleagues examine the impact seeking out their biological family members has on youths as they transition out of the foster care system into adulthood. Though this issue is rarely examined, Professor Paris and her colleagues emphasize the need for this phenomenon to be studied more. They suggest that policies and practices be instituted in the foster care system in order to better assist the youths of foster care in this transition and potential reunions.
Full text here.
Keywords: foster care, youth

Urban Prosperity: Communities

Publication

Beyond Groups: Seven Pillars of Peopled Ethnography in Organizations and Communities

Author: Japonica Brown-Saracino
School: College of Arts and Sciences, Sociology Department
Description: In her sociological study, Professor Brown-Saracino and her colleagues explore the role small groups play in peopled ethnography. They then extend this level of analysis and examine the role small groups play in larger levels of analysis like communities and organizations. Professor Brown-Saracino’s study may provide useful insight into the ways in which the groups that build our urban communities and shape the interactions groups within these communities engage in.
Full text here.
Keywords: community organizing, community engagement

From Lesbian Ghetto to Ambient Community: The Perceived Cost of Integration for Community

Author: Japonica Brown-Saracino
School: College of Arts and Sciences, Sociology Department
Description: Focusing on the queer community of Ithaca, NY, Professor Brown-Saracino investigates the relationship this minority group has with the greater community. She examines the ways in which the queer community is integrating with the overall community, as well as the perceived costs and benefits of such integration.
Full text here.
Keywords: LGBT, community engagement

Comparing Neighborhoods of Adults With Serious Mental Illness and of the General Population: Research Implications

Author: Thomas Byrne
School: School of Social Work
Description: Professor Byrne and his colleagues investigate the differences in neighbor environments of communities of adults with high rates of serious mental illness and the general population at large. Their team determined that neighborhoods with populations of seriously mental ill adults had higher levels of structural and social issues than the general population. Professor Byrne and his colleagues use their findings to point to the possible barriers these environments create when it comes to integrating and supporting the adults of these communities.
Full text here.
Keywords: mental health, community development

Neighborhood-Level Factors Associated with Physical Dating Violence Perpetration: Results of a Representative Survey Conducted in Boston, MA

Author: Emily F. Rothman
School: School of Public Health
Description: Professor Emily Rothman and her colleagues study the neighborhood environmental factors associated with dating violence in 38 Boston neighborhoods. The study found that in adolescents, lower collective efficacy, lower social control, and neighborhood disorder were correlated with a higher likelihood of physical dating violence perpetration. The study results may give community workers and policy makers insight into ways dating violence could be reduced by addressing the neighborhood environments.
Full text here.
Keywords: violence, dating, Boston

Islamist Mobilization in Turkey: A Study in Vernacular Politics

Author: Jenny White
School: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Anthropology
Description: This book focuses on the rise of Islamic politics and urbanization in Turkey, through ethnographic data collected from the city of Ümraniye. White follows the lives of Islamic political groups, activists, and feminists.
Full text here.
Keywords: secularism, politics, Turkey, Islam, social activism, feminism, urbanization

Public Ritual and Urbanization in Central Mexico

Author: David M. Carballo
School: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Archaeology
Description: Professor Carballo examines public rituals and temple offerings (c. 600 bc- ad 100) within the town of La Laguna. The act of performing public rituals had a seemingly dependent and perhaps a causal effect on the urbanization of central Mexico and Mexican state capitals such as Teotihuacan. Published in the Cambridge Archaeological Journal.
Full text here.
Keywords: Mexico, history, archaeology, urban anthropology, urbanization

Urban Prosperity: Education

Publication

Part 1. Cities and Schools: Ch. 1: Evolving Relations

Author: Yesim Sungu-Eryilmaz
School: Metropolitan College
Description: This chapter defines the evolving relations between urban cities and the higher education community that enhances the urban space. With globalization, and recent economic slowdowns, cities within the United States have suffered from disinvestment and population lost. However, colleges and universities have played a key role with state and local government and nonprofits in developing technology, industrial performance, public health, and social cultural developments. Published in Town and Gown Relations: A Handbook of Best Practices, 2013
Full text here.
Keywords: Higher Education

Disordered Data and Murky Models

Author: Christine Rossell
School: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Political Science
Description: This paper is a critique of the findings of Virginia Collier and Wayne Thomas regarding the program for language minority students and the “National Study of School Effectiveness for Language Minority Students’ Long-Term Academic Achievements.” Rossell finds that there are numerous assertions of educational benefits that are unsubstantial and ignored by the authors and their data does not account for a control group. The critique employs data from different geographic area school district composed of different location and sizes to analyze the educational program for language minority students. Published by the Lexington Institute, 2008
Full text here.
Keywords: education, second language learners

Aspiring Educators, Urban Teens, and Conflicting Perspectives on the Social Contract

Author: Scott Seider
School: School of Education
Description: Professor Scott Seider and his colleague explore the at times conflicting relationship between educators and students when addressing issues of systematic racial, class, and gender inequality in the American economic education system. Professor Seider notes that as the demographic gap between educators and students widen, their relationship becomes increasingly strained when addressing these topics. He and his colleague suggest urban educators undergo more thorough training in diversity and inequality with sociological, historical, and developmental perspectives to cultivate more harmonious and constructive relationships with their students.
Full text here.
Keywords: primary and secondary education, inequality

Cultivating the Academic Integrity of Urban Adolescents with Ethical Philosophy Programming

Author: Scott Seider, Sarah Novick, Jessica Gomez
School: School of Education
Description: Professors Seider, Novick, and Gomez use a mixed methods research approach to study the effects of ethical philosophy programming has on academic integrity at high-performing, high-poverty high schools. After implementing such a program, researchers found that students participating in the ethical philosophy program display significantly higher levels of academic integrity than students at a comparison school. Results of this study may serve as a good model for approaching academic dishonesty and lack of integrity at other schools in similar areas with comparable student bodies.
Full text here.
Keywords: ethics, youth, secondary education

The Role of Moral and Performance Character Strengths in Predicting Achievement and Conduct among Urban Middle School Students

Author: Scott Seider, Sarah Novick, Jessica Gomez
School: School of Education
Description: Professors Scott Seider, Sarah Novick, and Jessica Gomez, along with their Vanderbilt University colleague, explore the relationship between moral characteristics and academic success. They studied elementary and middle school aged urban youth attending three charter schools in the northeast. Professors Seider, Novick, and Gomez discovered that students who report higher levels of moral characteristics such as integrity also display higher levels of academic success. They conclude that if educators want to close the achievement gap, they must cultivate their students’ moral characteristics in addition to other academic and personal qualities.
Full text here.
Keywords: ethics, youth, secondary education

Classifying At-Risk High School Youth: The Influence of Exposure to Community Violence and Protective Factors on Academic and Health Outcomes

Author: Scott Solberg
School: School of Education
Description: Professor Scott Solberg and his colleagues study Latino and African American “at risk” high school youths in urban education. Professor Solberg and his colleagues identify six clusters, five of which they deemed at risk. They then studied the clusters in relation to a series of categories, including academic stress, health, grades, and retention. Professor Solberg and his team discovered exposure to violence in youth leads to increased levels of vulnerability. They also noted resilient youths recorded better outcomes. The results of these studies identify the need for better and more available community resources and programs for at risk youths exposed to violence, as well as the need to decrease the rates of violence in communities for the betterment of future generations.
Full text here.
Keywords: race, youth, violence, secondary education

Predicting Achievement, Distress, and Retention Among Lower-income Latino Youth

Author: Scott Solbergz
School: School of Education
Description: Professor Scott Solberg and his colleague study a population of Latino youth from an inner city high school to explore how social cognitive and self-determination theories impact students’ stress, achievement, and retention rates. The study indicates that students who feel connected to their teachers and school also report higher levels of independent motivation to attend school. This motivation is connected to increased self-confidence and improved academic performance, and decreased physical and psychological stress. The results of this study may help policy makers and urban education boards create more programs to connect students with their teachers and increase educator availability.
Full text here.
Keywords: race, social policy, youth, secondary education

Urban Prosperity: Gentrification

Publication

Diverse Imageries of Gentrification: Evidence From Newspaper Coverage in Seven U.S. Cities, 1986-2006

Author: Japonica Brown-Saracino
School: College of Arts and Sciences, Sociology Department
Description: Tackling perhaps one of the more controversial issues facing urban communities today, Professor Brown-Saracino analyzes 4,445 newspaper articles published over a 20-year period on the subject of gentrification. She examines the ways in which the way gentrification is framed has changed based on time and location. Finally, Professor Brown-Saracino calls for a greater body of work on gentrification to analyze its perceived costs, benefits, and impacts.
Full text here.
Keywords: income inequality

Virtuous Marginality: Social Preservationists and the Selection of the Old-Timer

Author: Japonica Brown-Saracinoz
School: College of Arts and Sciences, Sociology Department
Description: Professor Brown-Saracino discusses the relationship between individuals moving into a community and the “old-timers,” or original residents, who add to the “authenticity” of the community. Professor Brown-Saracino explores the idea of old-timers, authenticity, and their role in the gentrification of urban neighborhoods.
Full text here.
Keywords: migration, neighborhood identity

Urban Prosperity: Labor

Publication

Low Income Labor Markets and Urban Manpower Policies: A Critical Assessment

Author: Peter Doeringer
School: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Economics
Description: Professor Peter Doeringer’s monograph critiques the effectiveness and execution of the Concentrated Employment Program (CEP), a workforce development program. Doeringer and Piore examined the low-wage labor market, (low-wage worker behavior, low quality employment opportunities) deemed the “ghetto” market, as a result of the 18-month study of the Boston CEP. Published in The U.S. Department of Labor: Manpower Administration.
Full text here.
Keywords: labor market, low-wage, Boston, employment

Urban Prosperity: Public Health

Publication

Youth-led Health Promotion in Urban Communities: a Community Capacity-Enhancement Perspective

Author: Huiquan Zhou, Melvin Delgado
School: School of Social Work
Description: Methods to address the current and future needs of this country’s urban marginalized communities have been considered in academics and public policy and practice during the past decade. This book provides an examination of this social paradigm and its impact on current and future generations.
Full text here.
Keywords: youth, race, health

Spatial and Temporal Differences in Traffic-related Air Pollution in Three Urban Neighborhoods Near an Interstate Highway

Author: Jon Levy
School: School of Public Health
Description: The study measured distance decay gradients of seven different traffic-related air pollutants along I-93 in the metropolitan Boston area. Levy tested two hypotheses that determined the importance of measuring pollutants in single near-highway areas for health studies. Published in US National Library of Medicine.
Full text here.
Keywords: Boston, pollution, health, neighborhood

Transferability and Generalizability of Regression Models of Ultrafine Particles in Urban Neighborhoods in the Boston Area

Author: Doug Brugge
School: School of Public Health
Description: This study examined the transferability and generalizability of spatial-temporal LUR models of hourly particle number concentration (PNC) in order to assess the air quality of Boston neighborhoods near Interstate 93. Published in Environmental Science & Technology.
Full text here.
Keywords: Boston, pollution, health, neighborhood

The Elusive Right to Heath Care Under U.S. Law

Author: Jennifer Prah Ruger, Ph.D., M.S.L., Theodore W. Ruger, J.D., and George J. Annas, J.D., M.P.H.
School: School of Medicine
Description: This article examines the history and current debate of the constitutionality of healthcare policy in the United States in the judicial and legislative branches. Do Americans have a right to affordable heath care under the Constitution through an interpretation of due process?
Full text here.
Keywords: health care, law

Association of Recent Incarceration with Traumatic Injury, Substance Use-related Consequences, and Care Utilization

Author: Richard Saitz
School: School of Public Health
Description: In this study, School of Public Health Professor and Community Health Sciences Chair Richard Saitz and his colleagues explore the effects of incarceration on health outcomes in recently released inmates that may be markers of mortality. They conclude that incarceration is associated with a higher risk for substance use-related health consequences after release. The results of Professor Saitz’s study suggest that substance-use related health consequences might help explain the higher rates and risk of death in the former inmate population. Results of this study may also be useful in improving policies and practices in the prison system and community programs for recently released inmates to address substance-use issues.
Full text here.
Keywords: health, substance abuse, criminal justice

Mental Health Conditions, Individual and Job Characteristics and Sleep Disturbances Among Firefighters

Author: Daniel M. Merrigan
School: School of Public Health
Description: Professor Merrigan and his colleagues write about the benefits of Reclaiming Futures, an initiative that creates a comprehensive care system for teens with substance abuse problems in the juvenile justice system. The initiative focuses primarily on a system of shared strategic leadership to disrupt the cycle of substance use and abuse in teens. This system may be a beneficial model for future programs to further combat substance abuse issues among youths, both in and out of the juvenile justice system.
Full text here.
Keywords: criminal justice, substance abuse, youth

Moving Mountains Together: Strategic Community Leadership and Systems Change

Author: Richard Saitz
School: School of Public Health
Description: With his colleagues, Professor Richard Saitz explores the associations between mental health, individual characteristics, job characteristics, and sleep issues among firefighters. Saitz and his research team members find that firefighters suffer from a number of mental health stresses and participate in unhealthy coping behaviors, such as alcohol dependency. Saitz’s findings underscore the need for greater research into associated professions and need for greater care for and attention to the health needs of firefighters by the cities for which they work.
Full text here.
Keywords: mental health, substance abuse, employment

Urban Function: Historic Preservation

Publication

Representing the ‘Historical Centre’ of Bologna: Preservation Policies and Reinvention of an Urban Identity

Author: Paolo Scrivano and Filippo de Piere
School: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of History of Art and Architecture
Description: This article examines the notion of the “historical centre” of the city of Bologna in the years before and after 1969. Architects and city planners held grand ideas for the centre in Bologna but the plans did not remain specific and therefore were inconclusive and unclear. This effectively brought together city locals and helped reinvent the city’s identity. Published in Urban History Review/Revue d’histoire urbaine.
Full text here.
Keywords: identity, planning, history, Italy

Urban Function: Housing and Homelessness

Publication

The Age Structure of Contemporary Homelessness: Evidence and Implications For Public Policy

Author: Thomas Byrne
School: School of Social Work
Description: Professor Byrne and his colleagues consider the aging trend in the US and within the homeless population in their 2013 study. They found that over the past 20 years, the age group with the biggest risk for homelessness has increased by 15 years, from 34-36 to 49-51 years. Professor Byrne and his colleagues use these findings to examine the healthcare system, social welfare system, and policy programs and their impact on the aging homeless population.
Full text here.
Keywords: homelessness, health care, welfare, aging

Does Experiencing Homelessness Affect Women’s Motivation to Change Alcohol or Drug Use?

Author: Richard Saitz
School: School of Public Health
Description: As countless studies have indicated, the homeless are at a higher risk for substance abuse and dependency than other populations. Professor Richard Saitz and his colleagues explore the association between experiencing homelessness and the motivation to seek treatment to change substance dependency among women. Their study shows that compared to the continuously housed control group, homeless women show no significantly different motivation in seeking treatment. The results of this study are important for addressing policy and practices among clinics, community workers, and other urban programs for substance abuse treatment among the homeless.
Full text here.
Keywords: homelessness, women, substance abuse, health

Meeting People Where They Are: Engaging Public Housing Residents for Integrated Pest Management

Author: Madeleine Scammell
School: School of Public Health
Description: School of Public Health Professor Madeleine Scammell and her colleagues report on the partnership between several key Boston housing institutions to institute a program working with residents to manage pests. Residents who participated in the program were trained as Community Health Advocates in South Boston and recruited housing residents to participate in the pest management intervention.
Full text here.
Keywords: public housing, Boston, pest, health

Prevalence and Predictors of Residential Health Hazards: A Pilot Study

Author: Candice Belanoff
School: School of Public Health
Description: In this report, Professor Belanoff and her colleagues discuss the results of a pilot study used to examine the prevalence of household health hazards in a low-income neighborhood in Brooklyn, NY. Professor Belanoff and her colleagues call for an increase in “industrial hygienists” and for further research into these issues to determine more clearly the relationship between visible health hazards and the impact they have on the housing occupants’ health.
Full text here.
Keywords: income inequality, poverty, health

A Prevention-Centered Approach to Homelessness Assistance: A Paradigm Shift?

Author: Thomas Byrne
School: School of Social Work
Description: Like many other systems in American society, policies regarding homelessness have largely been reactive rather than proactive. However, Professor Byrne and his colleagues explore the shifting paradigm towards prevention-based policies and legislation emerging around homelessness in the US. Their team explores what defines successful preventative policies and cites examples of such policies from both the US and Europe. Professor Byrne and his team also offer a potential framework for future successful preventative policies and programs surrounding homelessness.
Full text here.
Keywords: homelessness, public policy

Ending Family Homelessness in Massachusetts: A New Approach for the Emergency Assistant (EA) Program

Author: Thomas Byrne
School: School of Social Work
Description: Along with his University of Pennsylvania colleague, Professor Byrne examines ways in which the current Massachusetts Emergency Assistance policy can be reformed to further assist homeless families and children of Massachusetts. They highlight some of the present shortcomings of the policy and offer improvements that would more successfully assist families and children suffering from homelessness.
Full text here.
Keywords: homelessness, youth, children and families, Massachusetts

The Relationship between Community Investment in Permanent Supportive Housing and Chronic Homelessness

Author: Thomas Byrne
School: School of Social Work
Description: Professor Bryne and his colleagues at the US Department of Veteran Affairs examine, at the community level, the impact of permanent supportive housing on chronic homelessness in veterans. Through their study, they found a negative association between investment in permanent supportive housing and rates of chronic homelessness. These findings can be used to suggest policy improvements to lower the rates of chronic homelessness in the future.
Full text here.
Keywords: community development, veterans, homelessness, public policy

New Perspectives on Community-Level Determinants of Homelessness

Author: Thomas Byrne
School: School of Social Work
Description: While structural and community determinants of homelessness have been studied at length, the data available to researchers has been limited and imprecise. Professor Byrne and his colleagues remodel many of these past studies with new and more accurate data from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development to continue exploring the determinants of homelessness across a large sampling of communities. The team then uses their updated findings to explore future potential policy moves.
Full text here.
Keywords: homelessness, social policy

Urban Function: Urban Environment

Publication

A Global Fingerprint of Macro-scale Changes in Urban Structure from 1999 to 2009

Author: Mark A. Friedl, Steve Frolking, Tom Milliman, and Karen C. Seto
School: College of Arts and Sciences
Description: This study collected a variety of data from two space-borne sensors, looking specifically to China’s and India’s major cities, to help people understand how urban areas affect regional to global energy consumption and toxic greenhouse emissions. Published in Environmental Research Letters.
Full text here.
Keywords: energy, pollution, urban landscape

Methane Emissions from Natural Gas in the Urban Region of Boston, Massachusetts

Author: Lucy Hutyra, N. Phillips, K McKain, S. Raciti, J. Budney, C. Floerchinger, S. Herdon, M. Zahniser, T. Nehrkorn, R.B. Jackson, S.C. Wofsy
School: College of Arts and Sciences
Description: Focused on methane emissions produced as a fraction of the most urbanized regions of Boston, the study suggests that the natural gas consuming areas release more methane emissions than originally estimated. Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Full text here.
Keywords: Boston, pollution, methane, emissions

Firearm Ownership and the Murder of Women in the United States: Evidence That the State-Level Firearm Ownership Rate Is Associated with the Nonstranger Femicide Rate

Author: Michael B. Siegel, MD, MPH and Emily F. Rothman, ScD, MS
School: School of Public Health
Description: This is the first study to examine the relationship between firearm ownership and total and gender-specific, stranger versus nonstranger firearm, and total homicide rates across all 50 states during the 33-year period from 1981 through 2013, while controlling for age, gender, race/ethnicity, region, urbanization, poverty, unemployment, income, education, income inequality, divorce rate, alcohol use, nonviolent crime rate, hate crime rate, suicide rate, and incarceration rate.
Full text here.
Keywords: gun violence, domestic violence, women, homicide

Mapping Urban Pipeline Leaks: Methane leaks across Boston

Author: Nathan G. Phillips, Robert Ackley, Eric R. Crosson, Adrian Down, Lucy R. Hutyra, Max Brondfield, Jonathan D. Karr, Kaiguang Zhao, Robert B. Jackson
School: College of Arts and Sciences
Description: Methane leaks in Boston have a specific feature that can be tagged to pipeline natural gas. A team of scientist mapped and identified leaking natural gas pipelines in Boston as to find solutions to preventing further leakage. Fixing pipelines will increase consumer health and safety and save money for the City of Boston in the long run. Published in Environmental Pollution.
Full text here.
Keywords: Boston, pollution, pipeline, natural gas, methane, emissions

Nitrogen and Carbon Export from Urban Areas through Removal and Export of Litterfall

Author: Lucy R. Hutyra, Pamela H. Templer, Jonathan W. Toll, Steve M. Raciti
School: College of Arts and Sciences
Description: After monitoring waste bags from yards in the City of Boston, the study discovered that litterfall exports of Carbon and Nitrogen may produce nutrient hotspots in urban environments. Published in Environmental Pollution.
Full text here.
Keywords: Boston, nutrient cycling, litter, waste, urban ecosystems

Heterogeneity in Individually Experienced Temperatures (IETs) Within an Urban Neighborhood: Insights From A New Approach to Measuring Heat Exposure

Author: Japonica Brown-Saracino
School: College of Arts and Sciences, Sociology Department
Description: Professor Brown-Saracino, with her colleagues David M Hondula and Evan R Kauras, examine approaches for measuring heat exposure in urban areas. Heat exposures and its influence on urban health hazards is playing a vital role in understanding the relationship between climate change and urbanization.
Full text here.
Keywords: health, climate change, urbanization, urban ecosystems

Town-Gown Cooperation in Community Development

Author: Yesim Sungu-Eryilmaz, Rosalind Greenstein
School: Metropolitan College
Description: With 50 percent of public and private higher education institutions situated in central cities, most urban colleges and universities remained in isolation pursuing intellect while seldom addressing urban problems. Recently, universities are focusing more on their surrounding communities through external and internal developments to revitalize urban areas.
Full text here.
Keywords: urban environment, community development, Higher Education.

Urban Development and the Culture of Masked Balls in Nineteenth-Century Paris

Author: James H. Johnson
School: College of Arts and Sciences,Department of History
Description: This article looks into the culture of masked balls in Paris in the 1830-40s, particularly linking the evolution of masked events to urban development within the city. Landscaping changes within Paris districts was determined to be the catalyst in creating a lively environment. Published in Journal of Urban History.
Full text here.
Keywords: arts and culture, urban development, Paris, landscape

Megaproject Management: Lessons on Risk and Project Management from the Big Dig

Author: Virginia Greiman
School: Metropolitan College
Description: A central member of the Big Dig team reveals the numerous risks, challenges, and accomplishments of the most complex urban infrastructure project in the history of the United States. Drawing on personal experience and interviews with project engineers, executive oversight commission officials, and core managers, the author, a former deputy counsel and risk manager for the Big Dig, develops new insights as she describes the realities of day-to-day management of the project from a project manager’s perspective.
Full text here.
Keywords: urban infrastructure, public/private partnerships, The Big Dig, Boston

Urban Function: Transportation and Infrastructure

Publication

Did Railroads Induce or Follow Economic Growth? Urbanization and Population Growth in the American Midwest, 1850-60

Author: Robert Margo, Michael Haines, Fred Bateman, Jeremy Atack
School: College of Arts and Sciences,Department of Economics
Description: This paper examines the idea that improved transportation could either induce city growth rates or is a result of increased growth rates. Margo claims that more than half of the Mid-western urbanization numbers in the 1850s was a result of the expansion of transportation, particularly railroads. Published in Social Science History.
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Keywords: urbanism, transportation, growth

Urban Management: Governance

Publication

Pushing the City Limits: Policy Responsiveness in Municipal Government

Author: Katherine Einstein, Vladimir Kogan
School: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Political Science
Description: This paper utilizes a cross-sectional database and panel analysis of cities to analyze the responsiveness of city governments to their constituents. This paper concludes that as cities become more Democratic, cities spend more on services. Voter sentiments are also a strong determinant on the level and precise mix of revenues on which the city relies. Overall, cities respond to competitive pressures and the needs and wants of their constituents. Published in the 2015 Urban Affairs Review.
Full text here.
Keywords: municipal government, fiscal policy

Mayoral Policy-Making: Results from the 21st Century Mayors Leadership Survey

Author: Katherine Einstein, David Glick
School: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Political Science
Description: Mayoral Policy-Making: Results from the 21st Century Mayors Leadership survey represents the first nationally representative survey of American mayoral priorities. The report, released by the Boston University Initiative on Cities, is based on interviews with over seventy American mayors from cities of all sizes and affluence. Sitting mayors offered their perspectives on challenges facing their cities, personal policy priorities and planned political capital expenditures, and responded to a series of trade off questions related to gentrification, income inequality and climate change. It highlights the importance mayors place on the physical, fiscal and social infrastructure of their cities, and – contrary to prior research – suggests that party affiliation has a significant influence on mayoral priority setting. Published by the Boston University Initiative on Cities 2014.
Full text here.
Keywords: municipal government

Cities, Inequality, and Redistribution: Evidence from a Survey of Mayors

Author: Katherine Einstein, David Glick
School: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Political Science
Description: Policymakers and scholars are increasingly looking to cities as policy innovators capable of addressing critical economic challenges. These challenges including income inequality and other redistributive policies that influential research argues cities are ill situated to tackle. These arguments are part of a robust scholarly debate comprising urban politics and comparative political economy research that contests whether cities are (1) limited by economic constraints and unable to prioritize redistributive initiatives, or (2) spurred to pursue equity-oriented policies when political factors are favorable. No existing research, however, directly and systematically measures local political elites’ preferences for local redistribution. We use an original survey of over 70 American mayors—including many from the nation’s largest cities—to directly measure when and why mayors prioritize redistribution. Published by the Boston University Initiative on Cities 2015.
Full text here.
Keywords: municipal government, budgeting, fiscal policy

Political Science: Perspectives on Business and Government

Author: Graham Wilson, Wyn Grant, and David Coen
School: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Political Science
Description: This article examines the relationship between business and government at the Federal, State, and Local level both in the United States and worldwide. It studies the four debates of the relationship between business and government: the relationship of power between government and market forces; whether businesses have enjoyed unfair advantages in politics; if business-government relations result in suboptimal public policy; and if government is the fundamental determinist compared to businesses themselves. The overall purpose of the paper is to understand the political action of a business firm and to create a foundation for a theory of the firm and political relationship. Published in the APSA 2010 Annual Meeting
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Keywords: municipal government, public policy, federalism

Power and Popular Protest in Latin America

Author: Susan Eckstein
School: College of Arts and Sciences, Sociology Department
Description: In a chapter of the book bearing the same title, Professor Eckstein discusses why “city dwellers take to the streets and not the ballot boxes” to express dissent. She focuses on the political unrest in Latin American countries, and why certain cities experience successful protests while others do not. Professor Eckstein draws on economics, politics, and cultural norms in analyzing city political protests in Latin America.
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Keywords: Latin America, political dissent, protest, culture

Mayors, Partisanship, and Redistribution: Evidence Directly from U.S. Mayors

Authors: Katherine Levine Einstein, David Glick
School: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Political Science
Description: Policymakers and scholars are increasingly looking to cities to address challenges including income inequality. We interview and survey 72 American mayors—including many from the nation’s largest cities—and collect public statements and policy programs to measure when and why mayors prioritize redistribution. These findings suggest that national political debates may be shaping local priorities in ways contrary to conventional views, and that they may matter even more than other recent findings conclude.
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Keywords: urban politics, redistribution, partisanship

Urban Management: Urban Policy

Publication

Application of Virtue Theory to Pubic Policy: A Compassion Example

Author: Mary Elizabeth Collins, Kate Cooney, Sarah Garlington
School: School of Social Work
Description: Professors Collins, Cooney and Garlington apply virtue theory to the public and social policy arenas. They specifically use the example of hospice care policy to illustrate ways in which virtue theory and compassion would create better social and public policies that would better serve communities.
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Keywords: hospice, health, social policy

Resolving the Public Pension “Crisis”

Author: Jack M. Beermann
School: Law School
Description: The high profile bankruptcy filing by the City of Detroit, Michigan, has brought to the fore the relationship between pension underfunding and the financial difficulties faced by an increasing number of municipalities and states in the United States. The problem is likely to continue to grow with more municipalities finding it necessary to explore the bankruptcy option or otherwise attempt to reduce pension and other obligations to employees and retirees. This essay is an effort to provoke discussion of the normative issues surrounding pension reform, mainly concerning how public employees and retirees should be treated in municipal bankruptcy.
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Keywords: public pensions, municipal bankruptcy, pension reform, fiscal policy

The Public Pension Crisis

Author: Jack M. Beermann
School: Law School
Description: With the looming unfunded employee pension crisis presented to state and local governments, this article examines the causes and potential cures for the public pension disorder. The political economy of public pensions in regards to how large the problem is and if public pension promises are excessive or abusive to State and Federal Law constraints on states are discussed. State restraints in regards to a balanced budget requirement and pension plan funding and state law limitations are studied. The Federal Contract Clause and Takings clause are applied to the Pension Reform. Professor Beermann concludes that “raising the possibility of a bailout to ameliorate the potential disastrous consequences of reform to public employees and retirees.” Published in the Washington and Lee Law Review, 2013
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Keywords: public pensions, pension reform, fiscal policy

The Case for Public Pension Reform: Early Evidence from Kentucky

Author: Maria O’Brien Hylton
School: Law School
Description: With the bankruptcy of the City of Detroit, Stockton, San Bernardino, public pensions and other post employment promises are threatening the states and municipalities to perform basic governmental functions. This paper studies the State of Kentucky, which has recently enacted pre-emptive pension reforms. Professor Hylton argues that corruption, scandal, and short-term thinking are at fault for the current pension crisis. This paper reviews the financial state of Kentucky’s pension reform plan and the previous political environment that took place. Published in the Boston University School of Law Public Law & Legal Theory Paper, 2014
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Keywords: public pensions, pension reform, fiscal policy

Central Falls Retirees v. Bondholders: Assessing Fear of Contagion in Chapter 9 Proceedings

Author: Maria O’Brien Hylton
School: Law School
Description: Municipalities like Central Falls, Rhode Island have applied Chapter 9 litigation to protect its municipal bondholders. The fear of contagion has prompted the legislature to encourage adoption of legal arrangements that have limited the bankruptcy courts’ ability to include bondholders in the cost of restructuring municipal debt. With this change, municipal bondholders receive preference above taxpayers and retirees. This paper argues that it is hard to justify special protections of municipal bondholders. Published in the Wayne Law Review, 2013
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Keywords: public pensions, pension reform, fiscal policy

Combating Moral Hazard: The Case for Rationalizing Public Employee Benefits

Author: Maria O’Brien Hylton
School: Law School
Description: This paper describes the astonishing scope of public sector benefits-driven indebtedness and provides an account, which contrasts the prudent self-correction process in the private sector with the ongoing struggle of many states to address the issue. In addition, the paper proposes specific reforms – the movement of all employees into DC plans, mandated use of realistic rates of return, the explicit promotion of the cultural norms of thrift and frugality, and, in extreme cases where the political landscape appears incapable of responding effectively to the crisis, the modification of legal regimes to prohibit collective bargaining over benefits – for policy makers to consider. Published in the Indiana Law Review 2011-2012
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Keywords: public pensions, fiscal policy

Property Taxes and Property Values: Evidence From Proposition 2 ½

Author: Kevin Lang, Tianlun Jian
School: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Economics
Description: Lang and Jian examine the effect of Proposition 2 1/2 on revenues and housing prices in Massachusetts. Communities that were initially con-strained by the law, saw large increases in state aid and the use of fees. Lang and Jian use these initial constraints as instruments for changes in other components of revenue while treating the change in the property tax as exogenously determined by Proposition 21 . Their results strongly suggest that communities that were able to increase their property taxes more rapidly saw greater increases in their housing values in the period following passage of the law.
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Keywords: housing, property tax, economic policy, Massachusetts