URI Providence Campus UrbanScape forums to examine the opportunities and challenges of urban life, March 26, April 8

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. — February 28, 2014 — The University of Rhode Island’s Feinstein Providence Urban Initiative has announced its Spring 2014 UrbanScape community forums. The forums are designed to bring together academic and public sectors to examine the social and economic issues affecting citizens of cities locally, nationally and globally.

This year’s forums will focus on the role of class, race and gender in access to urban opportunities. Free and open to the public, they will be held on March 26 and April 8 at 7 p.m. in the Paff Auditorium at the URI Feinstein Providence Campus, 80 Washington Street. Marc Levitt, a well-known writer, storyteller, educator, radio and T.V. host, filmmaker and audio artist will moderate the forums. Levitt says he hopes to help audiences look at how cities structure expectations and use, while either reinforcing or breaking-down borders by such barriers as class, race, gender and age.

On Wednesday, March 26, the forum is: Whose City? Reproducing Class, Race and Gender Inequalities in Providence and in Cities Around the World. The featured speaker is Jordan T. Camp, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell. Camp has also been a visiting scholar in the Institute of American Cultures and Bunche Center for African American Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles. The panelists are: Dr. Michael Fine, director of the Rhode Island Department of Health; Shanna Pearson-Merkowitz, assistant professor of political science at the University of Rhode Island; Barbara Kalil, member of the RI Homeless Advocacy Project; and Akin Ladele, AS220 youth artist who brings a youthful viewpoint on navigating across city borders from his skateboard.

On Tuesday, April 8, 2014, the forum is: Your City! How Providence and Cities Around the World are Working Towards Equity, Diversity and Democracy. The featured speaker is Don Mitchell, the distinguished professor of geography in the Maxwell School at Syracuse University and author of The Right to the City (2003 Guilford Press). A MacArthur and Guggenheim Fellow, Mitchell is best known for his work on cultural theory and the People’s Geography Project. Considered a radical and influential scholar, he works with labor struggles, human rights and justice. Panelists are: Buff Chase, the managing general partner of Corning Associates, Westminster Street Lofts, and Mashpee Commons; Renee Hobbs, professor and founding director of the University of Rhode Island’s Harrington School of Communication and Media; Fred Ordonez, executive director, Direct Action for Rights and Equality; and Jori Ketten of Pronk!, the local Providence organization that makes joyful noises while promoting community actions.

Videos of previous community forums can be found on You Tube under “University of Rhode Island UrbanScape Community Forum.” More information can be found at URI Prov or call 401-277-5160.