The US-German Urban Workshop uses the comparative method to study neighborhood change and immigrant incorporation in older transforming industrial cities. We focus on the intersection of the comparative method with research on select issues in a certain type of city.
“Second-tier” cities, such as St. Louis and Dortmund, generally receive less scholarly attention than global cities at the top of the urban hierarchy. Although older industrial cities are still suffering from the loss of industrial jobs, they are nearly all experiencing the growth of new knowledge-based economies and an influx of immigrants, making them more demographically diverse and spatially unequal.
Comparative urban research is especially challenging because there is so much “noise” in urban systems – so many factors vary at once. However, we believe cities like Dortmund and St. Louis are experiencing quite similar challenges rooted in basic economic processes of agglomeration and innovation, as well as international flows of immigrants and refugees. The big contrast is in how local institutions and policies shape these processes and try to cope with their effects.
The work of the US-German Urban Workshop will highlight how humanly chosen policies and institutions can improve neighborhoods and help integrate immigrants into the life of the city. In addition, we hope our work will clarify how researchers can use the comparative method to generate knowledge on a broad range of urban issues.