Mission & Goals

Research, Teaching & Civic Engagement

As scholars, we hope to explore the numerous approaches and methods that have been applied to the study of public space. We aspire to contribute transdisciplinary perspectives to the conversation about space that is taking place in existing disciplines such as Communication, Geography, History, Architecture, Anthropology, Urban Planning, and Law among others.

Our goal is to develop rigorous and systematic methodologies for the study of space as a medium of communication and action by drawing on cross-disciplinary approaches:

  • to build on existing theory in order to contribute to the current conversations about public space,
  • to develop a pedagogical curriculum that will give students an opportunity to apply theory and methods through fieldwork, turning their city into a laboratory for the study of the urban environment, and
  • to engage in public scholarship through collaborative work with the greater community and general public.

As a result, we intend to produce original, cross-disciplinary, scholarly analyses of these various texts. We give students opportunities to participate in collaborative, experiential learning and to engage in public scholarship within their community. Finally, we wish to share our work with the public and to collaborate with civic leaders on projects that can benefit the greater community.


We begin our study by collecting artifacts –images, physical objects, texts, sounds, video– in the city and creating an Urban Archives. In collaboration with the University of Washington Libraries, we are developing a catalogued and fully searchable database of media and artifacts. These will become part of the permanent library collection, available to all scholars and citizens for further use, research and analysis.

Our mission is to grow this body of knowledge of public space through an archaeology of the city. Our data collection will continue as the project grows, branching out in modular fashion depending on the specific aspects that we are studying. We will collect primary, material artifacts in urban spaces as well as record historical information such as oral and written histories.