PPS290 – WHAT’S UP DURHAM?: HISTORY, POLITICS, AND SOCIETY IN THE BULL CITY
Durham, North Carolina will celebrate its sesquicentennial in 2019. Much has changed in the one-hundred fifty years since the city’s beginnings as a depot on the railroad between Raleigh and Hillsborough. Today, Durham is a midsize southern city on the rise. Located in one of the fastest growing regions in the country, it is staking out its place as a hotspot in the new economy with all the associated indicators: a rapidly revitalizing downtown, an influx of creative class workers, a rise in entrepreneurism and start-ups, and major investments in public amenities.
But not everyone is benefitting from Durham’s renaissance. Gentrification is rapidly displacing historic working-class communities, one fifth of the city’s population is living in poverty, wages are failing to keep up with dramatic increases in housing costs, and the public-school system exhibits large, and growing, achievement gaps by both race and class. By nearly every measure, great social and economic disparities exist, and, in many ways are deepening.
“What’s Up Durham?” will investigate this tale of two cities by examining the historic roots of inequality, current conditions in the city, and where we go from here. The course will employ history, social science research, and documentary studies to explore these questions. The final leadership project will be the development of policy options for elected officials, civic leaders, and Durham citizens to reduce disparities in housing, health, education, employment, politics/voting, criminal justice, and municipal services.
“What’s Up Durham?” is a part of a new research and civic engagement project at Duke called “Bull City 150: Reckoning with Durham’s Past to Build a More Equitable Future,” and is sponsored by the Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity and the Sanford School of Public Policy. [Areas of Knowledge: SS; Inquiries/Competencies: CZ]