The Unbanking of America, How the Middle Class Survives (and how one academic gained new insights), Oct. 23

Posted by Haverford College on October 15, 2019

Through collaboration with The Globalsl Network, the Center for Peace and Global Citizenship (CPGC) is pleased to offer the Inaugural Lecture in what we hope becomes an annual series on Public Scholarship. On Wednesday, October 23, from 4:30 – 6:00 pm in Lutnick 200, University of Pennsylvania Professor of City Planning Lisa Servon will present a lecture on her recent book, The Unbanking of America: How the Middle Class Survives. Following the lecture, we’ll engage in a conversation about Professor Servon’s choices to feature community-based knowledge generation and deliberate public dissemination as key steps in the research process.

What if an advisee indicated interest in getting a job at a check-cashing store as a means of learning more about financial institution access in the US? Might there be a legitimate approach to be identified? What would the IRB process look like?

One Bryn Mawr (political science) alumnus (Lisa Servon) took this approach to investigating the contemporary consumer financial-services-system, suggesting, “I knew I could get only so far by reading policy reports and academic articles… So I got a job as a teller at RiteCheck, a check casher in the South Bronx, where I could get up close to people’s decisions.”

This alum also decided to be systematic about writing to and connecting with broad publics as she published the results of her inquiry, deliberately forgoing an academic press while also authoring op-eds and giving a range of interviews.

Professor Servon also Chairs the Penn City and Regional Planning Program, where our students are able to earn a Master’s in City and Regional Planning through the 3+2 partnership with the Growth and Structure of Cities Program at Bryn Mawr.

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