Office Hour: Professor Stefano Bloch

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Welcome to Office Hour! I’m Aileen Seo, a first-year from San Diego, California and every week I’ll be sitting down with professors to talk about some of the cool things they are doing here at Brown! I’ll be writing about everything from their research to what they love most about teaching here, so stay tuned!

As a continuation of last week’s column on Professor Stefano Bloch, here are his answers to some of the questions I had!

1. Can you discuss your research, particularly the graffiti research that students helped out with last semester?

My current research projects vary from a focus on gang identity and sentencing enhancement legislation, which I am writing up now as a journal article, to the correlation in cities between the presence of graffiti and incidents of violent crime. Over 100 students have participated in the graffiti/crime research, and as of now we have thousands of pieces of data that consist of categorized and geo-tagged pieces of graffiti, in addition to over nine years of crime data from the Providence Police Department. Students have walked across just about every community in Providence collecting this data and have been crucial to this research that may challenge long-held ideas about the correlation between crime and disorder.

2. How did you get interested in Urban Studies?

Urban Studies is the perfect academic home for me. Like my own scholarly background, the field of urban studies is highly interdisciplinary and liberating in terms of what intellectual questions I am able to ask. I came to urban studies at Brown after completing a Ph.D in cultural geography, an MA in urban planning, and BA in literature. Each of these fields of study fit well within urban studies because urban studies is ultimately about human identity and expression that forms in, as well as informs, place.

3. What classes are you teaching this semester?

This semester I am teaching an advanced seminar on critical urban theory called, get ready for this… “Critical Urban Theory.” It is a diverse class in terms of students’ areas of intellectual focus, personal politics, geography, identity, experience, and interest, as well as inclusive of students from both the Brown and RISD campuses. I am also teaching “Introduction to Geography” at the Rhode Island State Prison Men’s Medium Security Facility where my students contribute to no less of a diverse, inclusive, and intellectually invigorating learning environment. Next semester I will teach my regular fall course at Brown, “Crime and the City.”

4. What do you like about teaching at Brown?

What I like about teaching at Brown is that people are nice. I could say so much about how intelligent or how engaged or how creative every member of the campus community in fact is, but really it is people simply being nice to me that makes me want to come to campus everyday.

If you have any questions, comments, or just want to talk, you can reach me at aileen_seo@brown.edu. 

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