Inaugural Postdoctoral Fellow Adds New Dimension to Urban Studies at Trinity College

Cummins Brings Ethnographic Research from Detroit to Hartford

​Hartford, Connecticut, December 21, 2016 – The intellectual journey from Boston via Detroit to Hartford is a tale of three cities for Emily Cummins, the inaugural postdoctoral fellow in urban studies at the Center for Urban and Global Studies (CUGS) at Trinity College.

Emily Cummins
Emily Cummins
Cummins earned a newly created postdoctoral fellowship from the Jeffrey E. Kelter Endowment in Urban and Global Studies, established this past spring by Jeff Kelter ’76, P’18, a member of Trinity’s Board of Trustees. The endowment will help fund a visiting postdoctoral fellow at CUGS each year and also will allow an expansion of student majors and course selection. Cummins co-published four articles in sociology and specialty journals upon completing her dissertation at Northeastern University in the summer of 2016 and is currently working to turn her dissertation into a book, tentatively titled Detroit, Future City.

For her first and fully subscribed class at Trinity (“Introduction to Urban Studies”), Cummins has created an interesting and challenging syllabus to get her teaching off to a strong start. In spring 2017, she will teach two classes: “The American City” (for the Cities Program) and “Community Development Strategies.”

“My research to date has focused on these issues in the city of Detroit, exploring via ethnography the ways that the nature of planning and redevelopment is changing and reconfiguring inequalities,” said Cummins. “I see my role as a mentor to urban studies students as drawing from my experience as an engaged ethnographer. I can help students learn about cities and develop their own research projects by interacting with our urban environment here in Hartford.”

Last October, Cummins delivered a presentation titled “Responding to Crisis: Municipal Bankruptcy in Detroit and Beyond” to the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving. The discussion provided a perspective on how local community groups and residents responded to Detroit’s bankruptcy and offered a subsequent new plan for reviving the city.

As she expands her intellectual horizon beyond the classroom at Trinity and Hartford, Cummins will join the annual River Cities in Asia summer program in China, Thailand, and Cambodia as a co-instructor to bring her brand of urban sociological perspective to complement the program’s existing historical and environmental approaches. “I see this new venture as an opportunity to use a comparative lens to engage cities in a global context in my future work,” she said.

Written by Xiangming Chen