14. September 2022 | Magazine:

Visiting researcher from the USA at the Institute for Sustainable Urbanism Professor Jesus J. Lara researches the influences of migration on sustainable urban planning

The Institute for Sustainable Urbanism (ISU) at TU Braunschweig welcomes another international guest in the Winter Semester 2022/23: Beside the Ukrainian architect Yevheniia Berchul, Professor Jesus J. Lara from the Ohio State University is coming to Braunschweig with a DAAD and a Fulbright scholarship. The focus of his stay will be his research on the influences of migration movement on sustainable urban planning.

Professor Vanessa Miriam Carlow, Head of the Institute, is very excited to welcome the international guest: “Professor Jesus J. Lara is an incredibly renowned scientist whose field of research also has great relevance for our country. His knowledge will be a great asset to our Institute, and at the same time both sides will profit from the synergies of our collaboration.”

Professor Jesus J. Lara und Professor Vanessa Miriam Carlow in the presentation room of the institute.

Looking forward to the collaboration: Professor Vanessa Miriam Carlow, Director of the Institute for Sustainable Urbanism (ISU) at TU Braunschweig and Professor Jesus J. Lara, professor at the Knowlton School of the Ohio State University. Photo: Henrike Hoy/TU Braunschweig.

For Lara, this is already his second research stay in Germany: Between 2014 and 2015 he was a visiting professor at the Bauhaus-Universität Weimar funded by the DAAD. Now he is spending the winter semester at TU Braunschweig and, in addition to his research, will also offer a course on migration and urban planning. Lara himself was born in Mexico and emigrated to the USA in the 1980s. The interest in his research topic is therefore also rooted in his personal background.

Berlin in the focus of research

The Professor of City and Regional Planning now wants to expand his research to cities outside the USA. During his stay, he will mainly research the German capital Berlin and its urban development in connection with migration. His study has two research objectives: One is to understand the factors that contribute to the establishment of immigrant neighbourhoods in specific urban and suburban areas and the second is to explore how these immigrant communities contribute to social, economic, and cultural resiliency in their neighbourhoods.

Professor Jesus J. Lara stands in front of a PowerPoint presentation and points to it. Next to him are staff members of the institute who are listening with interest.

During his first visit to the Institute, Professor Jesus J. Lara gave the ISU staff an insight into his research work. Photo: Henrike Hoy/TU Braunschweig.

Currently Lara is conducting site analysis and inventory of selected neighbourhoods in Berlin (Wedding, Neukölln, and Moabit,). “Berlin, as the federal capital of Germany and its biggest city, uniquely illustrates the intersection of immigration and refugees and the impacts they have on both society and the built environment”, Lara explains. “I have been focusing on inventory and in-depth analysis based on observation and documentation of the existing conditions in the study areas related to physical and visual characteristics. The focus is on the question of how the city has changed as a result of immigration movements. I want to see if the results of my work in the USA can be transferred to other cities. At the ISU, I find the ideal conditions to do that, because the institute has a very international and multidisciplinary approach,” he points out.

Establishing a long-term collaboration

Both sides hope that the research stay will lead to long-term collaboration. “We would like to strengthen our many ties with the US,” Carlow explains. “In this way, we contribute to a generally stronger international orientation of TU Braunschweig and, of course, our students would also benefit from this, who could take a wider range of English-language courses.” For Lara, too, international exchange in research and teaching is indispensable: “It is essential that we think outside the box and learn how scientific work is done in other countries and that we exchange our research results. This helps us to improve mutual understanding and cooperation, not only in research but between people from different backgrounds in general.”

Portrait of Professor Jesus J. Lara.

Professor Jesus J. Lara is conducting research and teaches as a Fulbright and DAAD scholarship holder at TU Braunschweig during the Winter Semester 2022/23. Photo: Henrike Hoy/TU Braunschweig.

In October, Jesus J. Lara officially starts his research semester at TU Braunschweig. However, his first personal meeting at the Institute took place at the end of August, and there was also enough time for a short tour around the campus. His first impression of the Braunschweig campus and his new colleagues was extremely positive: “TU Braunschweig is a comprehensive university that is producing innovative and cutting-edge research in different areas. I am very much looking forward to getting to know the University, its students and researchers and, of course, the city of Braunschweig,” he adds. However, the researcher of urban planning will also face a small challenge in the coming months: “I am finally going to take a German course to learn the language at least a little bit. That will certainly not be easy,” Lara laughs.

Following his research stay at TU Braunschweig, Jesus J. Lara will stay in Germany for another semester and continue his research at TU Berlin.

Academic career of Professor Jesus J. Lara