Metropolis and World

Since the mid-1960s, urban geographers have taken advantage of the University's location in a major metropolitan area. Current research examines the growth and development of the Twin Cities, of other towns in the Upper Midwest, and of processes of worldwide urban change. Urban change is increasingly understood within the context of global and national processes shaping, and shaped by, changes at the urban scale. All cities are now global, and geographers at the University of Minnesota have taken a lead in conceptualizing the forces behind and the implications of this global-local nexus.

A series of key questions are being articulated: How is metropolitan growth and expansion driven by the local and non-local dynamics of real estate markets, land use change, economic restructuring, infrastructure development, social inequality, and political governance? What are the implications of shifting policy priorities and governance mechanisms for the social and environmental sustainability of cities? How are the relations between cities and their biophysical environments shifting as cities grow and expand? How are urban places shaped by cultural processes, such as new flows of immigrants and struggles to shape the meaning of the urban landscapes? How has globalization shaped the fortunes of cities that now find themselves increasingly engaged in global competition? What are the driving mechanisms and implications of rapid urbanization in the Global South, where the majority of the world's urban populations now live in its largest cities?

Current research at the University examines metropolitan expansion in the Twin Cities; the impact of rural change and new immigrants on small towns in the upper midwest; urban development policies in North America and Europe; public participation GIS, citizens’ access to GIS technologies, neighborhood change, and community action; the dynamics and impact of localized severe storms on traffic flows on Twin Cities highways; new immigrants in small towns in the upper Midwest; mapping US urban and rural population and housing census data since the beginning of the census; nature, the city, and urban life; place and memory in Berlin; urbanization and migration in South Asia; race, class and environmental justice in the Twin Cities; and urban social movements in different parts of the world.

If this genre of research interests you, shoot an email to any of our faculty who work in this area—they are more than happy to work with you and answer your questions!

Name Contact
Bruce Braun
Paula Pentel