Geography Undergrad Sam Nowak Selected for NSF Summer Research Experience

Geography undergrad Sam Nowak was selected to participate in the highly selective Georgia State University Community-Soil-Air-Water Research Experience for Undergraduates, funded by the  National Science Foundation. This is a unique research training experience, focusing on community geography, university-community partnerships and participatory methodologies. This research project examines community housing, urban green spaces, and urban environmental quality. More details about the research project can be found below. Congratulations Sam!


Participation in the 2012 Georgia State University CSAW Research Experiences for Undergraduates Program funded by the National Science Foundation
http://csaw.gsu.edu/nsf-reu/ <http://csaw.gsu.edu/nsf-reu/>

The Georgia State University Community-Soil-Air-Water (CSAW) Research Initiative is proud to host the Summer 2012 Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Site funded by The National Science Foundation Award #1156755, the Georgia State University Honors College, and the University of West Georgia.  The REU Site: Addressing Social and Environmental Disparities through Community Geography and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) is a multi-disciplinary program that brings together 16 outstanding undergraduate students from around the country to Georgia State University (Atlanta, GA) for a 6 week intensive research program.  With an explicit focus on community geography, university-community partnerships and participatory methodologies, the research training program is the first of its kind for undergraduates in the United States.  Undergraduate researchers, working in one of three research tracks <http://csaw.gsu.edu/nsf-reu/research-tracks/> , will quantitatively and qualitatively examine neighborhood change, property markets, air and soil quality, urban green spaces, and neighborhood visioning in partnership with neighborhood residents and community groups.
REU Research Track 1: Mapping property dynamics in South Atlanta with Charis Community Housing.  Leaders:  Katherine Hankins, Timothy Hawthorne, Kate Derickson, GSU geography; Andy Walter, University of West Georgia (archival work in consultation with Joe Hurley, GSU library sciences)

REU Research Track 2: Mapping green spaces in the Lakewood neighborhood with Trees Atlanta. Leaders:  Leslie Edwards and Timothy Hawthorne, GSU geography (archival work in consultation with Joe Hurley, GSU library sciences)

REU Research Track 3: Mapping urban environmental quality in the neighborhoods of Mechanicsville, Pittsburgh, Summerhill, Adair Park, and Peoplestown with SAFE (South Atlanta for the Environment).  Leaders:  Dan Deocampo, GSU geology; John Steward, GSU Institute of Public Health; and Katherine Hankins, GSU geography

Student Selection & Compensation: Selection for the 2012 CSAW REU site was based on a competitive, nationwide search of 204 highly-qualified undergraduate students. The selected CSAW Community Scholars share the following traits: a deep interest in engaged, community-based research; an inquisitive and creative mindset; and a desire to contribute to new directions in community geography scholarship.  As part of participation in the program, each CSAW Community Scholar receives a competitive funding package, including: a $3000 stipend for participation in the six week program, up to $250 in travel support to/from Atlanta, up to $750 for conference presentations at a major national meeting, free room and board at Georgia State University, and 3 required texts.

China: The Largest Migration in Human History

Geography Professor Kam Wing Chan’s work on internal Chinese migration is prominently cited in this week’s Economist article, “The Impact of Chinese Migrati0n: We Like to Move It Move It”.

IF YOU purchased one of the 1.8 billion mobile phones shipped around the world last year, there is a 50% chance it was put together in the Chinese province of Guangdong. There is also a good chance it was not assembled by a native Guangdonger, but by one of the millions of migrants who have left their homes and travelled to the coast to find work. Grinding poverty has long been a cause of migration and was the impetus again after the death of Mao Zedong in 1976. The story of migration since then is the story of modern China, as migrant workers have transformed China’s economy.

Kam Wing Chan of the University of Washington has compiled statistics which show that from 1990 to 2005—the most recent period for which reliable statistics are available—there was an overall gross migration across provinces of about 80m migrants (see map). An increasing number also migrate within their own province. All told, some 230m Chinese spend most of the year away from their home town or village. This is almost a third of all people globally estimated by the UN to be migrating within the borders of their own country. Most migrants move in search of work. The number of rural Chinese working away from home is now almost 160m, or 12% of the country’s population. The Chinese government’s population-planning commission forecasts another 100m rural residents could move to cities by 2020. As migration patterns change, though (see article), expect to see rapid social and economic change across inland China

The article also features an animated “videographic” illustrating migration flows.

In addition to Chan’s migration work, his work on the effects of this migration on Chinese economic development has also recently been featured in The Atlantic (Why China’s Migration Isn’t Creating A Middle Class”), and the UW  News & Information website UW Today (“China’s Urbanization Unlikely to Lead to Fast growth of Middle Class”).

New Data Shows Sharp Spike in US Income Inequality

The CBO report, “Trends in the Distribution of Household Income Between 1979 and 2007″, found that

After-tax income for the highest-income households grew more than it did for any other group. (After-tax income is income after federal taxes have been deducted and government transfers—which are payments to people through such programs as Social Security and Unemployment Insurance—have been added.)

CBO finds that, between 1979 and 2007, income grew by:

  • 275 percent for the top 1 percent of households,
  • 65 percent for the next 19 percent,
  • Just under 40 percent for the next 60 percent, and
  • 18 percent for the bottom 20 percent.

The share of income going to higher-income households rose, while the share going to lower-income households fell.

  • The top fifth of the population saw a 10-percentage-point increase in their share of after-tax income.
  • Most of that growth went to the top 1 percent of the population.
  • All other groups saw their shares decline by 2 to 3 percentage points.
  • New data from both the US Census’ American Community Survey likewise documents widening income gaps among Americans. As UW Geography Professor Mark Ellis explains, “The Census has just released what at first read through seems like a good summary report on income inequality at national, state, metro, and census tract scales from American Community Survey Data.  Although it does not break out the ratio of income of the top 1% to the median (i.e. the summary income measure of the 99%)  it does compute useful income percentile comparisons (90/10, 95/20) and gini coefficients for different geographies.  Interesting but not very surprising findings about where inequality is greatest in the US WA and Seattle have below inequality below US average. Great data and maps”.

    Census Report Summary: The National Picture

    Each year, the Census Bureau publishes an estimate of national income inequality from the Current Population Survey Annual Social and Economic Supplement (CPS ASEC; the latest is DeNavas-Walt et al. 2010). According to analysis of that survey (which has been measuring income inequality since 1947) by Jones and Weinberg 2000 (see also Weinberg 1996), “between 1967 (when income data for households first became available) and 1992, the shape of the household income distribution changed dramatically. This 25-year period was one of increasing household income inequality—as evidenced by several measures.” Subdividing that period, and using the Gini index as the measure, Jones and Weinberg observed that “household income inequality was generally stable between 1967 and 1980.” However, they go on to note that “In contrast to the . . . Gini measures, . . . percentile measures . . . suggest that household income inequality increased from 1967 to 1980 . . . .The 95/20 ratio . . . increased from 1967 to 1980, while the 90/10 ratio . . . declined.” Despite the ambiguity in the 1967–1980 period, they conclude “it is clear that the household income distribution became increasingly unequal beginning in 1981.” Their study ended with 1998 data, but the Census Bureau statistics continue to show increases in inequality since then. The Gini coefficient for household income in 2009 was 0.468, higher than for 1998 (0.456).4

    How the ‘Battle in Seattle’ led to a Global Health Mecca

    The Washington Global Health Alliance and the City of Seattle’s Office of Economic Development has published a new report describing our region’s growing global health industry. Called the 2011 Global Health Strategic Mapping and Economic Opportunity Portfolio, the report identifies local organizations working in global health, the number of jobs, types of projects overseas and business opportunities. Some key findings:

    • Respondent’s organizations have 2,503 projects and initiatives in 156 countries.
    • In Washington, 2,979 people work in global health. Outside of the state, these 59 organizations support an additional 17,275 employees.
    • Washington has particular expertise in infectious & chronic disease and developing technologies & devices.
    • Washington global health organizations surveyed collaborate with 1,574 partners, located in 111 countries across the world.

    UW Geography Professor Matt Sparke has received recent press and  blogosphere attention with his essay on how Seattle’s reincarnation as a global health epicenter relates to its previous reputation as a center for the global justice movement after the anti-WTO protests of 1999:

    Many people at the time thought the 1999 WTO protests marked a significant turning point, against the neo-liberal agenda in globalization. The ‘Spirit of Seattle’ became the rallying cry for those who opposed the market fundamentalism mindset of the time.

    But, today, another global Seattle being built, says Sparke. Neither the promoters of market competition nor the collaborative proponents of global justice have gone away, but in the aftermath of their now-famous standoff, a third and arguably “curative” rethinking of the city is taking shape: a re-visioning of Seattle as a world center of global health philanthropy and other private-sector treatments for the mismatch between global markets and global justice.

    As cited in the influential global health blog Humanosphere, Sparke argues that “The Gates Foundation is basically addressing the same global challenges that the protesters were. But they are doing it in a way that’s much more comfortable with and friendly to the traditional neo-liberal market-based approach.” In his chapter on “Global Geographies” in the department’s recent publication, Seattle Geographies, Sparke also warns of the “commodified” and “corporatized” vision of global health, “taking us back to the age-old competitive concern about promoting Seattle as a global health market leader”:

    The co-optation of global health for selling the city in the old game of global boosterism will seem for many a bitter pill to swallow. But if the historical geography of Seattle’s ongoing remaking as a global city tells us anything, it is that the definition of civic citizenship is always in flux, always being contested, and always, therefore, up for grabs….Global soul is not always for sale, and this city reminds us that there is going to be a battle for it–an ongoing Battle of Seattle over the meaning of world class.

    How the ‘Battle in Seattle’ led to a global health epicenter | Humanosphere.