2019 Award for Doctoral Research on Urban Issues

The 21st Century Cities Initiative (21CC) at Johns Hopkins University promotes the research of graduate students working toward a Ph.D. degree with a 21CC Research Award for innovative dissertation research focusing on policy-relevant urban research that closely aligns with 21CC’s interest areas. In 2019, 21CC awarded eight PhD students researching a variety of urban issues from homelessness to education to housing to urban agriculture in Baltimore City and cities across the globe.

Opening Classrooms: Instructional practices and student positionality as predictors of open classroom climate for discussion

Awardee: Kelly Siegel-Stechler, School of Education

Read the full dissertation here.

Abstract: “Since the 1970’s, work on civic education has identified the importance of open classroom
climate for discussion (OCC), or “the extent to which students experience their classrooms as
places to investigate issues and explore their opinions and those of their peers,” as one of the
most effective practices to support political socialization, build civic knowledge, and develop
citizenship. Further, there is evidence that access to OCC is not equitably distributed, and that
urban or underprivileged students are most likely to miss out. While policy could play a role in
increasing access to OCC, relatively little work exists on the determinants of open classroom
climates themselves, especially the role of teacher instructional practices. This study seeks to
identify the relationships between teacher instructional practices and OCC in secondary social
studies settings using a mixed methods explanatory sequential design. First, I use the 1999 IEA
CivEd dataset in order to identify which teacher instructional practices are the strongest
predictors of student perceptions of an open classroom climate for discussion. Second, I
examine whether and to what extent these effects are moderated by students’ socioeconomic
backgrounds. Overall, I find that teacher practices can and do predict student perceptions of
OCC, and that some of these relationships vary by student socioeconomic background. Finally, I
undertake a qualitative study in Miami Dade County Public Schools to explore how the
behaviors, relationships, and beliefs of students and teachers within classrooms define when
and how teacher practices allow an open climate to manifest. I find that before teachers can
focus on using instructional practice to foster OCC, they must separately create an environment
in which students feel safe and respected.”

Homelessness and Its Association with Maternal Morbidity

Awardee: Kelley Robinson, School of Nursing

Description: Maternal morbidity (MM) is the unexpected pregnancy-related illness resulting in significant short- or long-term consequences to a woman’s health and affects almost one-third of labor and delivery hospitalizations in the United States. US research reports that being homeless while pregnant is an indicator for infant morbidities, but little is known regarding how urban homeless women deal with this social determinant while managing their health in pregnancy. This sequential mixed methods study will examine MM among pregnant women experiencing homelessness in Baltimore.

Understanding Behavioral Responses and the Policy Implications of Rent Regulation using Novel Microdata in the New York City

Awardee: Hanchen Jiang, School of Arts & Sciences

Description: About 50% of renters in large U.S. cities are rent-burdened (25% are severely rent-burdened). Rent regulation has played a central role among housing policies aimed at keeping housing affordable, which has witnessed a clear legislative momentum recently. However, our understanding of the recipients’ behavioral responses to this policy is very limited, especially in terms of its impact on labor market outcomes. Answers to these questions are not only important in terms of providing evidence-based policy implications directly, but also in shedding light on a better understanding of the linkage between housing and labor markets broadly. This project focuses on rent regulation in New York City and uses a novel large-scale micro-data set: the New York City Housing Vacancy Survey to tackle these questions applying rigorous quantitative methods. One of the main objectives is to not only ask whether rent stabilization has any impact, but also to understand the role of information: does it matter whether people are aware or unaware of living in rent stabilized units?

Protecting urban agriculture participants in Baltimore, MD from soil contaminants: characterizing activities, exposure factors, and risk

Awardee: Sara Lupolt, School of Public Health

Description: With over two thirds of the global population projected to live in cities by 2050, urban agriculture (UA) presents a significant opportunity to provide local ecosystem services and improve the resilience and efficiency of urban food systems. The physical and mental health benefits among urban agriculture participants (UAPs) who engage in community gardening are increasingly understood, and urban farms offer employment opportunities and can play important roles in community and economic development. However, urban soils are an important source of both naturally occurring and anthropogenic contaminants that may pose potential risks to human health. This project will investigate the activities and behaviors of UAPs that involve soil contact to develop exposure factors that will improve the relevance of site-specific risk assessments for UA and support the development of urban policies and guidance that will adequately protect UAPs.

College Choice Among Disadvantaged Youth in Suburban Schools: Benefits and Challenges for the Postsecondary Transition

Awardee: Allison Young, School of Arts & Sciences

Description: Despite increasing college expectations, college enrollment remains stratified by class and race. High schools can either mitigate or exacerbate these class and race differences. Recent evidence from the Moving to Opportunity (MTO) study shows that low-income children whose families move when they are young from high-poverty, urban neighborhoods and schools to low-poverty, suburban neighborhoods and schools are more likely to attend college. Less research has examined how low-income families who make residential moves into opportunity neighborhoods and schools translate the resources of suburban spaces into increased educational attainment for their children. As low-income families are increasingly moving to suburban areas—with and without programmatic assistance—we need a better understanding of the underlying mechanisms behind the benefits and challenges of these moves. The study will conduct follow-up interviews with a sample of 40 low-income, African-American youth whose families previously participated in a larger study of the Baltimore Housing Mobility Program from 2012-2017. Interviews will focus on the youths’ process of preparing for post-secondary education or employment, exploring available options, and deciding on and pursuing a path.

Reproductive, maternal & newborn health (RMNH) indicators in conflict and displacement settings: The use of standardized core RMNH indicators in urban out-of-camp settings

Awardee: Marwa Ramadan, School of Public Health

Description: With reduced funding for camps and settlements in many countries combined with the self-selection of the majority of displaced populations to reside in towns and cities, the provision of effective services to displaced populations in urban settings is becoming more important. Forced displacement over the past decade has added additional burden on healthcare systems in numerous countries jeopardizing the quality of care for both the host and displaced populations. This is of special importance in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), which host the largest number and proportion of displaced populations. The overall goal of this thesis is to develop and test a core list of reproductive maternal, and neonatal health (RMNH) indicators in urban displacement settings to measure the effectiveness of public health interventions.

Between Habitation and Commodity: Housing Regimes in China’s Urban Transformation (1988-2018)

Awardee: Nanxi Zeng, School of Arts & Sciences

Description: This project asks how state actors, private capital, and societal forces shape the changing housing system in China’s urban transformation since the late 1980s. Against the conventional notion that marketization equals the withdrawal of the state and the takeover of the private market, the Chinese marketization of housing is a state-led process with substantial local variation. To understand the temporal transformation of and the local variation in the Chinese housing system, the project introduces the concept of “urban housing regimes” to describe housing-related policies, practices, and discourses at the level of municipal cities. By situating housing at the intersection of economic development and social welfare, this project uses the case of China to shed light on a broader theoretical question of how states find a balance between capital accumulation and social protection in the realm of housing.

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