November 22, 2017  

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USM Faculty Members, Jackson Architects and Emory Art Historian to Discuss Urban Development Sept. 15

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The Urban Studies Collective at The University of Southern Mississippi brings together scholars from different disciplines to begin a conversation about urban theory, development and history that extends beyond scholarly research to inform what students learn in the classroom.

On Friday, Sept. 15, architect and art historian Dr. Christina Crawford of Emory University and Roy Decker of the architectural firm Duvall Decker in Jackson, Miss. will join USM faculty members to discuss urban studies in a day-long colloquium. Crawford will direct a roundtable discussion of pre-circulated faculty papers from 10 a.m.-noon in the Cook Art Gallery. Crawford and Decker will give presentations about their current work beginning at 2 p.m. in the Liberal Arts Building 108. Anyone interested in boosting Hattiesburg’s downtown and midtown areas are encouraged to attend both events.
 
Monika Gehlawat, associate professor of English and coordinator of the Urban Studies Collective, says the goal of the faculty research group—with a particular focus on 20th - and 21st-century cities - is to engage with scholarship from national and international theorists in order to apply their ideas to the local and particular.

“Through these discussions, we will approach the problem of the urban from historical, theoretical, performative and statistical methodologies, thereby enriching our disciplinary thinking and scholarship on this field,” Gehlawat said.
 
Furthermore, Gehlawat said when parts of towns and cities fall into neglect, communities are demoralized and prospects for growth are few.

“Christina Crawford’s study of urban public housing and Duvall Decker’s reputation for architectural innovation in building functional community spaces make them valuable resources for Hattiesburg as we consider its future growth. Their projects should give Hattiesburg citizens, urban developers and students ideas for how to reimagine our own city space.”

Gehlawat first learned of Duvall Decker’s work in a New York Times article that praises the firm’s impressive body of work: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/20/arts/design/jackson-mississippi-archi...
 
After the afternoon presentation session, Crawford and Decker will tour Hattiesburg and share ideas they have about public sites, and help Southern Miss faculty imagine ways to challenge students to use their urban space more often and creatively. They will also meet with Mayor Toby Barker to discuss recommendations.

For more information about the Urban Studies Collective, contact Dr. Gehlawat at monika.gehlawat@usm.edu. To read pre-circulated papers, or learn more about invited guests, visit https://www.usm.edu/arts-letters/urban-studies.