URI’s Urban Initiative to release report highlighting urban issues in state

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Public forum on Providence campus to focus on immigration, transportation and health care


KINGSTON, R.I. – Sept. 17, 2014 – Immigration, health care and public transportation in urban areas are among the topics to be discussed during a public forum at the University of Rhode Island’s Providence campus.


The annual forum, hosted by URI’s Urban Initiative, will be Monday, Oct. 6, at 7 p.m., in Paff Auditorium on the Alan Shawn Feinstein Campus, 80 Washington St., in Providence. The event is free and open to the public.


“As the state’s research University with a vibrant urban campus, it is our responsibility to contribute to the body of knowledge that informs the conversation around policy decisions impacting our local communities,” says Lori Ciccomascolo, dean of The Feinstein College of Continuing Education.


Three professors will present their findings:


Shanna Pearson-Merkowitz, URI associate professor of political science, will present a paper called, “Immigrants and Immigration in the Ocean State: History, Demography, Public Opinion and Public Responses.” She co-authored the paper with Alexandra Filindra, assistant professor at the University of Illinois in Chicago.


Norbert Mundorf, professor of communication studies at URI’s Harrington School of Communication and Media, will talk about transportation and how it contributes to urban residents’ health and economic opportunities.


Larry Warner, public health specialist for Safe Institute in Providence, will discuss public health in Rhode Island and how to decrease disparities in health care. Warner has a master’s degree in public health from Brown University and is an emergency medical technician.


The Urban Initiative brings together people from academia and public service to examine social and economic issues affecting people living in urban areas.


For information about the forum, contact Tammy Vargas Warner, coordinator of the Urban Initiative, at tammyvw@uri.edu. Videos of previous community forums can be found on YouTube under “University of Rhode Island UrbanScape Community Forum.”


“This first report, with a focus on population and immigration, public transportation and public health,” says Vargas, “is filled with data-based insight toward improving the lives of citizens in our urban communities.”