Research Areas


The formation of the Urbanism primary research area reflects the breadth of research into urban conditions—local and global—conducted at Columbia. CPRC researchers take advantage of the extraordinary ethnic and racial diversity of New York City’s communities to further the understanding of how the physical environment and social resources of urban neighborhoods create contexts and individual vulnerabilities that modify and mediate relationships between economic and health disparities. Parallel to our focus on local urban conditions is an equally strong focus on globally-oriented work on urbanism framed in response to the increasingly important role of cities (and particularly ‘mega-cities’) in creating inequalities in population health. A distinctive feature of urban research at Columbia is its policy relevance. Columbia faculty are partnering with local community groups to create healthier and safer communities: they work with New York City officials to promote evidence-based policies, and they collaborate with the United Nations to design and evaluate innovative urban policy and planning to improve the lives of slum dwellers and to promote sustainable urban development particularly in the rapidly growing cities of Africa.

Integrating researchers from the Mailman School of Public Health, the School of Arts and Sciences, and the School of Social Work, the work of the Urbanism group covers a wide range of topics, including:

  • Developing a model for community involvement in land use and infrastructure decisions in Sub-Saharan Africa (Elliot D. Sclar)
  • A year-long comparative study of urban sustainability in New York City and Mexico City (Sudhir Venkatesh)
  • African migration and urbanization (Sally Findley)
  • Exploring intersecting epidemics of violence, drug use, and HIV in Brazilian favelas (Richard Parker)
  • A cross-classified multilevel analysis comparing the effects of school and neighborhood composition on sexual initiation (Julien Teitler)
  • Examining how neighborhood proximity to basic retail services is patterned by neighborhood racial, ethnic, and economic composition (Kathryn Neckerman)
  • Using ecological data for NYC to assess the extent to which neighborhood variation in physical and built environment characteristics can explain health disparities (Peter Messeri)
  • Examining “spilloever effects” – those of adjacent or nearby neighborhoods on health outcomes (Andrew Rundle)

This represents only a selection of the faculty participate in the Urbanism group.


Malo Hutson, Associate Professor in Urban Planning, and Director, Urban Community and Health Equity Lab, Columbia GSAPP

Andrew J. Rundle, Assistant Professor of Epidemiology, Mailman School of Public Health

New Initiatives

The Columbia Population Research Center inaugurated the New York City Studies Initiative to be led by Peter Messeri and Julien Teitler. The mission of the New York City Studies Initiatives is to strengthen infra-structure in support of New York City-focused research. The initial task is to inventory and facilitate sharing of the many data sets, both quantitative and qualitative, that Columbia researchers have created for their NYC research projects. This data can be found on the NYC Data Portal.