The university as pillar of the community
By John Morgan
Image Source: All images: Getty/Alamy
Originally published by Times Higher Education
“Hopkins has also begun an attempt to foster collaborations between university researchers and city governments nationwide, known as the 21st Century Cities Initiative. Kathryn Edin, Bloomberg professor in Hopkins’ department of sociology and a specialist in the study of urban poverty, is its director. A recent symposium hosted by the initiative was attended by officials from 30 cities across the US, including 14 mayors, as well as researchers from 20 universities.
The goal is to promote a “new brand of research that’s deeply engaged with cities and really done in conversation with city partners,” Edin says.
She cites a recent visit to Hopkins by officials from Baltimore’s departments of planning and health. Researchers gained information about city data sources that they did not know existed; city officials learned about the causes of home abandonment. In their studies, the Hopkins researchers have found that the biggest clusters of abandoned houses in East Baltimore are “gift houses” that grandparents or parents give to close family in need of a place to live, says Edin. But those most in need can struggle to deal with the practicalities of maintaining a household, and may abandon their attempts as the unpaid tax liabilities against it mount up. Now, a Hopkins physicist is developing a statistical model to predict where vacant homes will occur: potentially a valuable resource for the city.”