Srole Lecture Looks at Homelessness and Capital – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Srole Lecture Looks at Homelessness and Capital

As part of the annual Leo Srole Urban Studies Lecture series, Don Mitchell, author and Distinguished Professor of Geography in the Maxwell School at Syracuse University, addressed pressing social issues including homelessness, criminalization and the role of the U.S. Department of Justice, focusing on contrasting events in Manhattan and Boise, Idaho.

In his talk titled “Mean Streets,” Mitchell looked at New York City’s response to people who are homeless alongside the U.S. Department of Justice’s intervention into a lawsuit in Boise. He explored the circulation of capital through the city and its impact on the increasing inhospitality of cities towards the homeless. Mitchell’s talk was closely associated to his book, “The Right to the City.”

Sponsored by the Urban Studies Program, the Provost’s Office and President’s Office, Mitchell’s lecture overlapped with the focus of Urban Studies with students addressing the significance of public spaces in the United States.

“It was a great lecture,” says Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Sociology Ervin Kosta, who has assigned readings from Mitchell’s work on homelessness and helped coordinate Mitchell’s visit to campus. “I teach in class about the various ways to view what is happening in cities in the last decade. One thing we talk about is gentrification, which is one of the few angles through which we can approach homelessness. So when Mitchell talked about a different angle, it was wonderful to have the students exposed to this. The lecture was very well delivered and Mitchell was full of interactive materials – [the discussion] was just fantastic.”

In addition to serving as Distinguished Professor of Geography in the Maxwell School at Syracuse University, Mitchell is a recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship, Guggenheim Fellowship, and Fulbright Fellowship in the Department of Sociology and Human Geography at the University of Oslo, and Faculty of Architecture and Urbanism at the University of Chile. Mitchell founded the People’s Geography Project, was a founding member of the Syracuse Hunger Project, and serves on the advisory board of Syracuse Community Geography.  

The Leo Srole Urban Studies Lecture is the flagship event for the Urban Studies Program, named for the eminent urbanist Leo Srole, who graduated from Harvard University in 1933 and received his Ph.D. from University of Chicago in 1940. The internationally known scholar taught in the HWS Department of Anthropology and Sociology before World War II, and is remembered as one of the Colleges’ most distinguished faculty of the past century. The lecture series established in his honor is charged with bringing groundbreaking urban thinkers to the HWS campus to explore the issues and concerns to which Srole dedicated his life.