2022 Contribution to the Field of Urban Affairs Award

This year, Dr Ali Modarres (University of Washington Tacoma) was selected as the recipient of the 2022 Contribution to the Field of Urban Affairs Award which is given to individuals whose body of work has contributed to defining the field.

Award Committee Assessment:

Ali Modarres
Ali Modarres (University of Washington Tacoma)

“Ali Modarres has not only advanced research and teaching, but to an unusual degree has elevated the standing of our interdisciplinary field within higher education. We especially commend Professor Modarres’ success in elevating Urban Studies to become a signature program at the University of Washington in Tacoma, an urban-serving university that is committed to the educational, cultural, and economic development of the South Puget Sound.

In 2013 Modarres began his tenure there as professor and director of Urban Studies, which served only undergraduate students at that time. Modarres set out to build the role of the Urban Studies, expanding community-based learning and research opportunities for students and scholars. He established the first graduate degrees in geospatial technologies and community planning. He built a community advisory board, raised funds for research and scholarships, created dialogues between faculty and community members. He established the Center for Applied Urban Research and managed its staff. In 2018, the university recognized the value of this work by appointing him Assistant Chancellor for Community Partnerships, with responsibility for fostering community engagement. In that role, he played a major role in the university earning Carnegie Community Engagement Classification for the Tacoma campus.

In addition to his stellar institutional leadership and service, Modarres has blazed a clear path of intellectual and scholarly stewardship as past editor of the internationally-recognized urban journal, Cities. In this role and as a member of several editorial boards, he has generously mentored early career scholars. In keeping with his career path, Modarres has helped to lay the foundation for UAA’s continuing commitment to social justice by serving as founding editor of the Journal of Race, Ethnicity and the City. Through all of his many roles, Modarres has gained the respect and admiration of scholars, students, and colleagues across the globe.”

Award Committee:

Janet Smith (University of Illinois-Chicago), Carolyn Adams (Temple University), Nevin Brown (Siena Italian Studies), Marion Orr (Brown University), Kimberly Mayfield Lynch (Holy Names University)

Award Winner:

Dr. Ali Modarres is the Dean of the School of Urban Studies and the Assistant Chancellor for Community Engagement at University of Washington Tacoma. Prior to that, he served as the Chair of the Department of Geosciences and Environment at California State University, Los Angeles, and Associate Director/Director of Research at the Edmund G. “Pat” Brown Institute of Public Affairs. Dr. Modarres earned his Ph.D. in geography from the University of Arizona and holds masters and bachelors degrees in landscape architecture from the same institution.

From 2009 to 2017, Dr. Modarres served as the Editor-in-Chief of Cities. He presently serves on the editorial boards for Cities and JUA as well as the advisory boards for Springer’s Urban Book series and Palgrave’s book series on Demography and Political and Social Change in the MENA region. Dr. Modarres is one of the two founding editors of the new journal of JRE.

Dr. Modarres serves on a number of governing and advisory boards of academic associations, nonprofits, and policy centers. He has also served on city task forces and committees. Throughout his academic career, he has built bridges between university and community, promoting and supporting the mission of urban serving universities.”

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