Research Initiative: Contested Cities

Cities are terrains of social and political contestation. It is projected that 70% of the world’s population will live in cities by 2050, and cities are major engines of both economic growth and socio-economic inequality. Cities are central nodes in networks of translocal and transnational migration, including immigration, gentrification, and trafficking; they are at the forefront of efforts to adapt to anthropogenic climate change and address environmental injustices; they are, increasingly, arenas in which people mobilize to demand human rights to food, water, health, housing, education, and human dignity. In short, cities are the sites where many contemporary struggles for social justice unfold.

The Global Studies Center’s “Contested Cities” initiative seeks to situate these trends and developments in global and world-historical perspective, paying particular attention to the transnational processes – such as the financialization of housing, the privatization of water, the militarization of policing, and the localization of human rights and democracy– that have converged to make cities exemplary of contemporary globalization. While our interests in this area are broad-ranging, we have particular strength in the following areas:

  • Cities as key nodes in global networks;
  • Historical processes of urban transformation;
  • Connecting global processes with local experiences;
  • The right to the city and the global human rights cities movement;
  • Housing as a human right;
  • Cities and migration;
  • Cities and global health;
  • Urban education;
  • Struggles over sustainability;
  • Processes of mutual accountability;
  • Debates over smart cities and the role of technology in urban management and surveillance.

Past Event:

Transforming Cities: Cities and Sustainability Mini-Course

February 5-7, 2021 | All Day

This course continues our series on cities, focusing on how cities can be transformed through an innovative focus on health, sustainability, and climate change. Cities can play a significant role in tackling climate change through promoting low-emissions growth and clean energy and adopting sustainable approaches to resource utilization, transportation, and consumption -- all of which also promote the health of their residents. Led by Pitt and CMU faculty and by practitioners working in the field, the course is a must for anyone concerned with the future of cities and of our planet!


Past Mini-Course

Smart Cities and Technology, March 20-22, 2020

This iteration of the course will explore such topics as: the influence of multinational corporations on cities; the rise of privacy issues in relation to adoption of technology within cities and homes; the replacement of human labor and access to employment; the role of technology on urban planning, among others. Due to economic development and globalization, cities continue to grow with predictions that 70 of the world’s population will live in urban areas by the year 2050. This course, then, will view cities as hubs where patterns, connections, discussions, and the processes shape such issues as social justice, economic development, technology, migration, the environment among others. By examining cities as a lens, this sequence of weekend courses encourages students to examine cities as a system for discussing social processes being built and rebuilt. With an interdisciplinary focus, the course invites experts from the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon, and relevant fields more broadly.




K. Lieder


Dr. Lieder is the UCIS Visiting Professor in Contemporary Global Issues starting fall of 2019. She received her Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Theatre Studies and minor Languages and Cultures of Asia from the University of Wisconsin Madison. Her primary focus and interests concern Performance Studies, Global South Asia, Feminist and Queer Theory, Postcolonial Theory, Trauma and Sexual Violence Studies, Global Feminist Protest, Devising, and Directing.

Contact About: Global Feminism, Incorporating Global Issues into classroom and extracurricular planning


Michael Goodhart

Michael Goodhart is Professor of Political Science, and he holds secondary appointments in Philosophy and in Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies. His current research focuses on questions to do with global injustice and responsibility for injustice.  He is also interested in thinking about new modes of political theorizing for the Anthropocene. His core intellectual interests are in the theory and practice of democracy and human rights in the context of globalization and in related questions concerning global justice, democratic governance, and political responsibility at the transnational level.
Dr. Goodhart is co-president of the Association for Political Theory; he is an affiliate of the Human Rights Institute at the University of Connecticut, a member of the Center for Ethics and Policy at Carnegie Mellon University, and sits on several editorial boards. In 2008-2009 he was an Alexander von Humboldt Foundation research fellow and Guest Professor in the Hertie School of Governance, Berlin. 

Contact about: GSC Research Initiatives, Ideas about Interdiciplinary Projects and Collaboration