Urban Studies

50 Years of Urban Studies at Brown

Celebrating 50 Years of Urban Studies at Brown

To mark the 50th anniversary of Urban Studies at Brown, the program invited alumni back to Providence and College Hill for a reunion. On May 26th, 2023 five decades worth of alumni got together for an afternoon of discussion of urban issues and memories of the program. 

First up was an alumni panel featuring five Urban Studies alums talking about their careers and the influence of the program on their lives:

  • Steve Cowell ’72 (Cowell Consulting, formerly President of E4TheFuture)
  • Victoria Mason-Ailey ’79 (Retired, Associate Vice President for Planning and Community Affairs Columbia University; formerly Director of Community Planning, Philadelphia)
  • Chris Cirillo ’95 (Executive Director and President, Ascendant Neighborhood Development, East Harlem, NYC; formerly with Housing Preservation and Development, NYC)
  • Olga Abinader ’05 (Director of Environmental Review and Land Use Planning, Matrix New World Engineering; formerly Director of Environmental Review, City Planning, NYC)
  • Alex Morse ’11 (Town Manager, Provincetown, MA; formerly Mayor of Holyoke, MA, 2012-2021)

Alumni Panel Video:

We capped the event off with a lively and heartfelt reflection about living in cities now, “The Paradox of Cities in the Age of Climate Change,” by Peter Gill Case ’82, principal and founder of Truthbox Architects in Providence. "All the embodied energy in cities"—Peter reminds us—"in steel & concrete, in art & haute cuisine, in trash & ruins—goes unnoticed in daily life and generates activity and the need for more resources. The bread, the bricks and debris all come from somewhere else, leaving scars where extracted, impacting our existence. Cities are as natural an outgrowth of humanity as love and war; we are drawn together in community.  As stewards of urban life, what stories seem most relevant to share?”


Peter Gill Case Keynote Video:

Photos of 50 Years of Urban Studies at Brown: