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Posts By: Camille V Elliott

Dr. Isabelle Anguelovski gives the keynote address “Urban greening in the global North and South: Green cities for all or enclaves of environmental privilege?”

Urban Futures: Green, Sustainable, Just?

On February 20, 2018, Professors Hamil Pearsall and Christina Rosan organized a one-day conference at Temple University titled “Urban Futures: Green, Sustainable, Just?” The event brought together researchers, students, and practitioners from across the greater Philadelphia region to explore how ‘urban environments’ and ‘green urban environments’ are understood, governed, and experienced under different political formations, cultural and socio-economic contexts, and historical moments and what it means for the future of cities and the people who live in them. This event was co-funded by the Global Studies Program, the Department of Geography and Urban Studies, and the Center for Sustainable Communities at Temple.

Dr. Isabelle Anguelovski, Director of the Barcelona Lab for Urban Environmental Justice and Sustainability at the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona gave a thought-provoking keynote that questioned whether urban greening creates enclaves of privilege in communities in the Global North and Global South. Two sessions of research talks covered the class and race-based dimensions of climate change, urban greening and agriculture, economic revitalization, solidarity economy, and ecosystem services from different disciplinary perspectives, including Anthropology, Biology, Environmental Studies, Geography, Political Science and Sociology. The speakers hailed from Temple, the University of Pennsylvania, Haverford College, Ursinus College, the University of Massachusetts-Boston, and the University of Maryland-Baltimore.  A panel session, comprised of seven faculty from Temple, the University of Delaware, Montclair State, Drexel, Rowan, and Georgetown, discussed issues of equity in urban greening and the future of urban greening research. Questions from the audience led to a lively discussion of challenges in communication across disciplinary boundaries and academic, professional, and community groups.

The final session of the day was an open discussion among speakers and participants to identify ways to build a network of scholars and practitioners to catalyze new research directions on urban environmental research in international and globalizing contexts.

Read more about the event on their website. Contact Hamil Pearsall ( to become involved in this network.

Image Caption: Dr. Isabelle Anguelovski gives the keynote address “Urban greening in the global North and South: Green cities for all or enclaves of environmental privilege?”

Postdoctoral Diversity Fellowship in Black Geographies

Application deadline: 5-5-18

The Department of Geography and Urban Studies at Temple University invites applications for a one-year Postdoctoral Fellowship to support the development of early career scholars from diverse backgrounds with particular attention to historically underrepresented groups on the professorial faculties of colleges and universities in the United States. This year we seek application from scholars who show promise in the area of Black Geographies. The position will complement departmental strengths in globalization, sustainability, social justice, and geographic methods. The successful applicant will contribute intellectually to the department and College by collaborating with faculty to conduct interdisciplinary research while teaching one course over the year. We are seeking people with research interests in the broad area of Black Geographies, which pays attentions to the practices of Black life, social processes and issues that affect Black lives, and/or dynamics of resistance and the ways in which these practices are inherently spatial. GUS offers two interdisciplinary undergraduate majors in Geography and Urban Studies and Environmental Studies. GUS also offers three graduate programs – an M.A. and a Ph.D. in Geography and Urban Studies and a Professional Science Masters in Geographic Information Systems.

The Temple University Diversity Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Liberal Arts is a competitive program whose goal is to increase the diversity of the community of scholars devoted to academic research at Temple University. States. Candidates should hold a Ph.D. in Geography or a related field by August 1, 2018. Please submit a letter of application that addresses research and teaching interests, a brief statement of the grounds of eligibility, curriculum vitae, and three letters of recommendation by May 5, 2018 via Interfolio. Temple University is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer and the University especially encourages applications from women, minorities, veterans and persons with disabilities.

The current postdoctoral award is non-renewable, 12-month residential fellowship. The award includes a salary of $50,000, full Temple University employee benefits, a research/travel fund of $3,000, and a $2,000 moving allowance. The postdoctoral fellow will teach one course during the year of appointment and will meet regularly with other postdocs and faculty in the department and college through participation in seminars, colloquia, teaching circles, etc. The appointment will be effective August 1st, 2018.

Please submit information to INTERFOLIO at the following link:

Stahler story

GUS Faculty Jerry Stahler participates in Road to Recovery

GUS faculty Jerry Stahler and MA alumna Silvana Mazzella work with Temple physicians, researchers and alumni lead the battle against Philly’s opioid epidemic. Dr. Stahler recently visited “El Campamento,” a heroin encampment located along the Conrail train lines in the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia. Stahler knows that there is no simple answer to the opioid crisis, calling for acknowledgement that “There’s no silver bullet. You have to really have a multipronged type of approach.”  View the Road to Recovery’s multimedia story about Philadelphia’s work to fight the opioid epidemic.


Sustainability 1

GUS faculty participate in Symposium on Transdisciplinary Sustainability Research

On March 22nd and 23rd, the Center for Sustainable Communities at Temple University hosted a Symposium on Transdisciplinary Sustainability Research.  Scholars examining the social, environmental, economic, politics and cultural dimensions of sustainability science came together to discuss research gaps, provide a conceptual framework, and outline a transdisciplinary sustainability science research agenda with key questions and funding strategies for research proposals. Researchers from across the United States and the Universidad Javeriana in Colombia came together for this two day event.

Read more about the Symposium on Transdisciplinary Sustainability Research on the College of Liberal Arts News.

This event was cosponsored by Oak Ridge Associated Universities, The College of Liberal Arts at Temple University, and The Office of the Vice President for Research at Temple University

Photo Credit: College of Liberal Arts, Temple University


Dr. Hamil Pearsall selected for NSF’s TRELIS Fellowship

GUS Faculty Dr. Hamil Pearsall was selected to be a 2018 Training and Retaining Leaders in STEM-Geospatial Sciences (TRELIS) Fellow. TRELIS is an NSF-funded project that will provide professional development to women in the geospatial sciences. Sixteen TRELIS fellows will participate in a 3-day workshop in May in Madison, Wisconsin to discuss career-retention, mentoring, work-life balance, technical professional development, and leadership pathways. Directly following the workshop, the fellows will attend the UCGIS Symposium, which is jointly co-located with AutoCarto this year.

Learn more about TRELIS.

Hamil Pearson Book

Growing a Sustainable City? (University of Toronto Press) By Christina D. Rosan and Hamil Pearsall

GUS Faculty Dr. Christina Rosan and Dr. Hamil Pearsall recently published a book Growing a Sustainable City?: The Question of Urban Agriculture, published by University of Toronto Press. This book examines urban agriculture policies in post-industrial cities.

Urban agriculture offers promising solutions to many different urban problems, such as blighted vacant lots, food insecurity, storm water runoff, and unemployment. These objectives connect to many cities’ broader goal of “sustainability,” but tensions among stakeholders have started to emerge in cities as urban agriculture is incorporated into the policymaking framework.

Growing a Sustainable City? offers a critical analysis of the development of urban agriculture policies and their role in making post-industrial cities more sustainable. Christina Rosan and Hamil Pearsall’s intriguing and illuminating case study of Philadelphia reveals how growing in the city has become a symbol of urban economic revitalization, sustainability, and – increasingly – gentrification. Their comprehensive research includes interviews with urban farmers, gardeners, and city officials, and reveals that the transition to “sustainability” is marked by a series of tensions along race, class, and generational lines. The book evaluates the role of urban agriculture in sustainability planning and policy by placing it within the context of a large city struggling to manage competing sustainability objectives. They highlight the challenges and opportunities of institutionalizing urban agriculture into formal city policy. Rosan and Pearsall tell the story of change and growing pains as a city attempts to reinvent itself as sustainable, livable, and economically competitive.

Learn more about Growing a Sustainable City?

Robert Mason

Professor Rob Mason, 1955-2017

Robert J. Mason, PhD

October 27, 1955 – November 15, 2017

The Department of Geography and Urban Studies at Temple University is greatly saddened by the death of our friend and colleague, Professor Robert Mason on November 15, 2017 after a brief illness. Rob was well known for his scholarly contributions to geography particularly in the areas of land use management and environmental policy in the United States, Japan and China.  He was a highly respected teacher, mentor, and friend to many in the department and in the larger academic community. Rob was passionate about the need to address pressing environmental issues through his research and training the next generation of environmental leaders. He believed strongly in international educational opportunities for students, for whom he cared deeply. He also was an experienced world traveler, enthusiastic hiker, and adventurous food aficionado.

Rob received his BA degree in Geography and Environmental Studies at the University of Buffalo in 1977, his MA in Geography and Environmental Studies from the University of Toronto in 1979, and received his PhD in Geography from Rutgers University in 1986. He joined Temple’s Department of Geography and Urban Studies in 1986, following a short period as visiting lecturer at Ohio State University. He taught at Temple University Japan in Tokyo from 1993-1997. After returning to the Main Campus in Philadelphia, he became Director of the new program in Environmental Studies. Rob built this program into a very successful major over ten years. During the 2004-05 academic year, Rob held the Bryant Drake Guest Professorship in the Department of Biosphere Sciences at Kobe College in Nishinomiya, Japan. Most recently, Rob taught at Temple Rome in 2016. He was serving a three-year term as Regional Councillor of the American Association of Geographers and had previously served as President of the Middle States Division of the AAG. He also served for many years on the Board of Directors of the Kobe College Corporation/Japan Education Exchange including as Co-President.

Rob’s research and teaching focused on environmental policymaking and land use management. He was the author of Collaborative Land Use Management: The Quieter Revolution in Place-Based Planning (Rowman & Littlefield, 2008), Contested Lands: Conflict and Compromise in New Jersey’s Pine Barrens (Temple University Press, 1992) and the Atlas of United States Environmental Issues (Macmillan, 1990, with Mark Mattson). He wrote articles and book chapters about metropolitan growth management, greenline parks, conservation land trusts, and management issues in New York State’s Adirondack Park and New Jersey’s Pinelands National Reserve. More recent interests included evolving policy responses to environmental shocks, Delaware River watershed issues, metropolitan growth management, suburban sprawl, and protected areas at the state (New Jersey, Pennsylvania), regional, and national levels in the United States. He was also interested in the evolving role of Japan’s citizen environmental organizations at the national level, metropolitan land use and sprawl issues in China, and management of Japan’s Shirakami Sanchi World Heritage Area.

Rob’s leaves a lasting legacy through his many contributions to geography and environmental studies as well as the students he taught and mentored through the years. He will be greatly missed by his colleagues, students, and friends in the department and around the world.

Rob is survived by his brother Donald, his sister Linda, and his nephews. Information about a memorial service will be forthcoming.  If you would like to leave a message for Rob’s family, please do so at The Department of Geography and Urban Studies will hold an informal celebration of Rob’s life on December 12 from 12-2PM in Gladfelter Hall 310.

Events Water Justice in Mexico City

Dr. Katie Meehan Discusses Water Justice in Mexico City at the Department of Geography and Urban Studies annual Benjamin H. Kohl Social Justice Lecture

On November 3rd, the Department of Geography and Urban Studies welcomed Dr. Katie Meehan from the University of Oregon to present this year’s Benjamin H/ Kohl Social Justice Lecture, titled “Water Justice in Mexico City: Grassroots Innovation and Paradoxical Promise.” The event, which celebrates the life and academic commitments of beloved GUS faculty member Ben Kohl, attracted a large and engaged crowd. Many in the audience knew and worked with Dr. Kohl, others were familiar with his scholarship, and all were part of continuing his legacy by participating in an event that united social justice concerns with academic inquiry.

Prior to the lecture itself, GUS graduate students had the chance to get to know Dr. Meehan during a working lunch organized by the department. This turned out to be a great experience for the group, since many GUS graduate students are doing research that relates directly to Dr. Meehan’s, particularly in their commitments to transdisciplinary approaches to human geography and social justice.

While Dr. Meehan is currently involved in multiple research projects in a few different research sites, her lecture focused on the issue of water insecurity in Mexico City and potential solutions being proposed by a community-based organization called Isla Urbana. Dr. Meehan immediately captured the audience’s attention by narrating the story of a Mexico City resident’s daily water procurement practices, revealing both the technical details of rainwater capturing and the lived experience of a woman utilizing this method. This bit of storytelling, as well as a broader historical framing that went back to Aztec water mythology, provided a compelling introduction to an excellent talk and discussion.

In Dr. Meehan’s presentation, she demonstrated that in Mexico City, as in other cities throughout the world, significant portions of the population are not provided with safe and sufficient water to drink, cook, bathe, etc. She explained that despite water being designated by the Mexico City government as a human right, 31% of the population does not have safe, all-day water access and therefore must fill in the gaps through a number of practices, one of which is capturing rainwater. Dr. Meehan concluded by affirming that the work of Isla Urbana, a community-based organization that builds and installs water catchment systems, has the potential to bring water justice to Mexico City by “re-plumbing the republic.”

A question and answer session followed the lecture, allowing attendees and Dr. Meehan to partake in a dialogue that discussed topics such as how the work of Isla Urbana relates to broader social movements in Mexico City, the tensions between the work of NGOs and social justice goals, and the issue of water privatization in other areas of Latin America, such as Bolivia, where Dr. Kohl lived for many years as both an activist and researcher. Conversation continued over food and drinks during a reception outside the GUS Department’s newly opened GIS Studio.

By PhD Student Rebecca Croog


Our Undergrads Take on Middle States

On October 20 and 21, five students representing the Department of Geography and Urban Studies at Temple University attended the Middle States Division of the Association of American Geographers annual meeting at SUNY Geneseo.

They presented five-minute talks on a range of topics:GUS 2

  • Jillian Eller: “Liquor Store Locations in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Their Relation to Violent Crime Based on Seasonality”
  • Joseph Gallagher: “Cod-motity Fetish: British Fishers, Place and Brexit
  • Maric Kusinitz: “Geographies of Sacred Space: A Meditative Exercise”
  • Ritapa Neogi: “Colonialism and the Ecological Crisis of the Suez Canal
  • Chelsea Williams: “Neoliberal Food Deserts”

In addition to the professional development of presenting at a conference, this was a chance for our students to network with fellow Geography undergraduates and meet faculty from the region, including the Chair of the American Association of Geographers Derek Alderman.

This was a student-driven effort, with support from faculty and staff in the department.

GIS River City

Environmental GIS takes on Urban Heat at the River City Festival

By Hamil Pearsall, PhD, Marlee Cooper, Dempsey DiMedio, Kenneth Govan, Jason Loux, Daron Mulligan, Charlie Orr, Julia Pedrick, Sam Schwarzwalder, and Chris Tauskey

On Saturday, October 14th, the students from Environmental GIS taught by Professor Hamil Pearsall developed an exhibit on urban heat islands in Philadelphia as part of the Climate City section at the Fishtown River City Festival at Penn Treaty Park.

Our goal was to teach attendees about urban heat islands and in a way that was easy to understand, memorable and relatable to individuals living in the Philadelphia area. We followed a climate communication approach developed by the Climate & Urban Systems Partnership (CUSP) that focused on making an issue like climate change local, relevant, and solution-oriented and developed three different hands-on components for our exhibit:

  1. A station for measuring the temperature of common construction materials (e.g. bricks, roofing materials, wood);
  2. A matching game that challenged residents to match a neighborhood-scale photo to its corresponding location on a map of temperatures across the city; and
  3. A game, inspired by The Lorax by Dr. Seuss, to help Fishtown residents come up with ways of cooling their neighborhood.
Students in Professor Pearsall’s Environmental GIS course show River City Festival attendees ways to combat urban heat.

Students in Professor Pearsall’s Environmental GIS course show River City Festival attendees ways to combat urban heat.

Our maps and activities were engaging, fun, and educational. They help get people interested in the timely issue of urban heat, it helped people realize that urban heat islands affect them as
individuals. It also equipped them with recommendations of what they can do to keep their neighborhoods cooler. Easy recommendations included green spaces, planting trees, or being aware of the type of shingles on your roof.

The students from the class enjoyed interacting with the local community to discuss environmental issues relevant to Philadelphia. The exhibit successfully accomplished its goal of making people aware of extreme heat in cities and helping them to find ways that they could make a difference through a few simple actions.