Note from the Urban Studies Director, December 2020

By Yipeng Shen

December 2020 is the last month of my tenure as the acting director of urban studies and therefore is a good time for some reflection. The past year was one of the most tumultuous time of the 21st century, to say the least. Our country continues to face perennial problems such as climate change and predatory capitalism, while battling new diseases of COVID-19 and uncurbed systematic racism. The alienation of human life at so many levels helps put our professional work in perspective. The people in urban studies and the Center for Urban and Global Studies have done wonderful work in teaching, research, curricular revision, and community engagement, despite the current U.S. administration’s mind-boggling isolationism, anti-intellectualism, and xenophobia. As Michel Foucault said, “there is no power relation without the correlative constitution of a field of knowledge, nor any knowledge that does not presuppose and constitute at the same time power relations.” An ethical and conscientious discipline, or interdiscipline, of urban and global studies is particularly important to the overall health of the current world. At the moment of departure from my current position, I wish my colleagues and students best of luck in their future pursuit of intellectual discovery and social justice.