Designing for difference: Planning for immigrant integration

Date: 11/2/2018
Principal Researchers: Jeremy Nemeth and Edelina Burciaga (Sociology) Others Involved: Carrie Makarewicz (URP) Student Researchers: Peter Burke, Reilly Rosbotham, Jose Parra, Shannon Terrell, Iza Petrykowska, Mais Alnima, Steph Leonard, Quin Joel

For many years, planners and sociologists have sought to determine what shapes immigrant integration, or the dynamic, two-way process in which newcomers and the receiving society work and adapt together. “Context of reception,” or the combination of opportunities and challenges that shape acceptance into a host society, profoundly shapes immigrant integration. Glaringly absent from studies on context of reception, however, is a focus on whether and how the design of the built environment might affect immigrant inclusion and exclusion. In this project, we ask how the spatial qualities of communities can create positive contexts of reception for recent immigrants. Eight undergraduate and graduate students from the geography, public health, sociology, and urban and regional planning programs will conduct 300-400 surveys of first-generation immigrants in a number of neighborhoods across the Denver metro area. This collaborative project makes several contributions to research on these subjects: a) it introduces a key spatial-analytical construct for immigration scholars in urban planning and sociology, b) it recognizes the important role that professional planners and designers can play in building more inclusive and integrative spaces for immigrant populations, c) it helps nonprofits, policymakers, and other state actors advocate for better urban design and built environment improvements in existing and potential arrival neighborhoods, and d) it benefits immigrants by foregrounding the notion that “place matters” for immigrant integration.