Desiree Fields (Graduate Center, City Univ. of New York)
Award committee assessment:
Ms. Fields is a doctoral candidate in the Ph.D. Program in Environmental Psychology, and she is completing a dissertation entitled “Crisis Tectonics: How Housing Market Crises Reshape the Urban Landscape” (under Susan Saegert, David Harvey, and Kathe Newman). Since 2010, Ms. Fields has been a Graduate Assistant at the Center for Place Culture and Politics. She holds an M.Phil. in Environmental Psychology from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York as well as a B.A. in Psychology from the University of California at Santa Barbara.
Committee members note that Ms. Fields’ scholarly record demonstrates a “notable publication record and clearly defined research agenda for the ABD stage.” Likewise, “she has developed a high degree of expertise on the housing foreclosure crisis. Her research and collaborative work (particularly the publication record) is relatively extensive … [and] she provides a macro perspective on the many facets of her research topics and will continue to be a productive scholar in this area.” Her work is theoretically strong, conceptions are robust, and her methods are novel and sophisticated. Specifically, the record includes 6 peer-reviewed articles, a book review, two book chapters, 3 white papers, and numerous conferences presentations. Even more impressive, the Committee notes that Ms. Fields is the recipient of the Best Article Award in the Journal of Urban Affairs in 2009 as well as the recipient of a Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant in the Geography and Spatial Science Program of the National Science Foundation. These are important—and rare—distinctions of excellence in the urban affairs field for any scholar, and it is especially noteworthy for a graduate student. In short, her scholarly contributions stand out above all other nominees.
Moreover, her nominator, Prof. Susan Saegert, notes that, “her activist credentials are equally strong. She has worked with the Urban Homesteading Assistance Board to provide materials for their anti-predatory lending campaign. She has participated in some of the Occupy Foreclosure actions in New York. She developed effective written, visual, and oral presentations for the New York State Legislature on the problem of predatory equity stripping and clarified for specific legislators how their districts were affected.” The Committee also notes Ms. Fields’ passion for social justice in cities and her record of community engagement. She serves the neighborhoods of East Harlem, Bedford-Stuyvesant, and South Bronx in advocating for community land trusts with the group Picture the Homeless.
The Committee agrees with her nominator that, “In my over 25 years of teaching and advising PhD students, Desiree stands out not only because of her obvious brilliance and productivity but also because despite her youth she has attained a breadth of knowledge, research skills, habits of mind, discipline, and direction that are exceedingly rare among recent PhDs.” The Committee has no doubt that Alma Young would be proud of this emerging scholar. Her work not only honors the legacy of Alma Young, but it also establishes a new standard for what a commitment to urban affairs means.
Chair, Thomas J. Vicino, Northeastern University, Robin Boyle (Wayne State Univ.), Robert Collins (Dillard Univ.), Robert Silverman (Univ. at Buffalo), Adrienne Smith (Univ. of Tennessee, Knoxville)