The whole world is experiencing fast urbanization and has become a world of cities. Understanding these cities through comparative study illuminates common processes and best practices for policy makers.

Mission

The whole world is experiencing fast urbanization and has become a world of cities. Over the next 20 years, major urban centers will continue to be major magnets for migration, including continued internal rural-to-urban migration in the developing regions, urban-to-urban migration in strong emerging economies, and migration between neighboring countries. Issues brought by fast migration and urban growth such as population changes, economic challenges, urban governance and cultural integration are increasingly complex, interdependent, and ultimately global. It is clear that there is no “one size fits all” approach to managing the challenges of urban growth. As cities grow, it makes eminent sense to study in comparative perspective the urbanization process along with ongoing social and economic transitions.The goal is both more comprehensive understanding of these processes and uncovering best practices to inform policy makers.

As leading research universities positioned in their nation’s fastest growing urban area, Fudan University’s School of Social Development and Public Policy (Shanghai, China) and Rice University’s Kinder Institute for Urban Research (Houston, Texas, USA) agreed to work as partners to develop an innovative research collaboration studying how metropolitan regions are responding to migration and population growth

Strategic Goals

Both Shanghai and Houston are major receivers of what might be termed “undocumented migrants,” that is, those moving into the respective cities without formal government papers allowing them official residence in the area. For the pilot project, the MR.MUG Fudan-Rice Collaboratives study immigration and urban growth in their respective cities, namely Houston, Texas and Shanghai, China, based on agreed-upon research topics.

  • Overall patterns and trends of migration and contribution to urban growth;
  • Social integration process and the impacts on the local residents’ attitudes and reactions toward migrants;
  • Impacts on public safety and crime issues;
  • Spatial development caused by migration (sprawl and growth of urban areas, change of the neighborhoods);
  • Challenges to public services (education, health care, housing and infrastructure);
  • Innovative city: migrant workers’ economic and cultural contributions to the host city’s development.

The pilot project would culminate in joint workshops and publications. It is the first step in an effort to create an internationally-scaled study in tackling pressing urban issues.

People

Houston Team

  • Michael Emerson, Kinder Institute for Urban Research, Rice University
  • Jessica Brown, College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, University of Houston
  • Stephen Cherry, School of Human Sciences and Humanities, University of Houston – Clear Lake
  • Kiara Douds, Kinder Institute for Urban Research, Rice University
  • Christine Kovic, School of Human Sciences and Humanities, University of Houston – Clear Lake
  • Amy Lucas, School of Human Sciences and Humanities, University of Houston – Clear Lake
  • Jie Wu, Kinder Institute for Urban Research, Rice University

Shanghai Team

  • Yuan Ren, Institute of Population Research, School of Social Development and Public Policy, Fudan University
  • Na Chen, School of Journalism, Fudan University; Fudan-UC Center for China Studies, University of California at San Diego
  • Lizhu Fan, School of Social Development and Public Policy, Fudan University; Fudan-UC Center for China Studies, University of California at San Diego
  • Jie Shen, Institute of Population Research, School of Social Development and Public Policy, Fudan University
  • Jing Tan, School of Social Development and Public Policy, Fudan University
  • Ruijun Wu, Institute of Population Research, East China Normal University
  • Haiwang Zhou, Institute of Urban and Population Studies, Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences

Working Papers 

  • “The Immigrant Experience: Houstonians’ Family Attitudes and Behaviors” by Amy Lucas and Stephen Cherry
  • “Assimilation and Transformation through Healthcare: Case of Houston Foreign-born Healthcare Workers” by Stephen Cherry and Amy Lucas
  • “Mexican and Central American Immigrant Organizing for Human Rights: The Fight for Local Citizenship in a Global City” by Christine Kovic
  • “The ‘Southwestern Strategy:’ Immigration and Race in GOP Presidential debate discourse, 2008-2012” by Jessica Brown
  • “Trust in the Bayou City: Individual and Contextual Predictors of Generalized Trust in a Local Context” by Kiara Douds and Jie Wu
  • “Suburban Growth and Social Exclusion of Migrants in Shanghai” by Jie Shen
  • “Is Population Growth the Main Reason of Difficulties of Public Services Provision: Case Study of Shanghai” by Haiwang Zhou
  • “Motivation and Social Adaptation of the Returning Emigrants -- Shanghai as an example” by Ruijun Wu
  • “Will Migration Make the City Unsafe: Empirical Studies in Shanghai” by Jing Tan and Yuan Ren
  • “Religion and Rural-Urban Immigration: An Approach to Study Assimilation in China” by Lizhu Fan and Na Chen