students working on designs at desk

The Presidential Initiative is intended to foster excellence and preeminence in urban and place-based research and creative work at CU Denver through offering funding, coordinating faculty across campus, communicating outcomes, enabling connections with partners in the community, and serving as a resource for sharing data and best practices. In so doing, it is intended to both increase the impact of CU Denver’s urban and place-based research and creative work, and to attract and fund faculty and students interested in this domain. While focused on urban issues generally, the Initiative emphasizes work relevant to the Front Range, particularly when it has implications nationally or internationally.

The Initiative funds projects that address critical and timely topics related to cities, such as:  Social and Environmental Justice, Equity and Inclusion, Affordable Housing, Plan Making, Public Spaces, Global Cities, Smart Cities, Urban Informatics, Artificial Intelligence for Cities, Infrastructure, Transportation and Mobility, Climate Adaptation, Green Infrastructure, Air and Water Quality, Urban Ecology, Biomimicry, Green Real Estate Development, Public Health, Water and Energy Use, Natural Hazards Mitigation, Environmental Policy, Public Finance, Historic Preservation, Creative Industries, Placemaking, Community Development, Arts and Urban Revitalization, Healthcare Access, Economic Development, Behavioral Economics, Education Policy and Practice, Public Policy and Governance, Public Safety, Public Engagement, Entrepreneurship, Urban Design, Construction Management, and much more.

The 2021 Request for Proposals for seed grants  is now closed. Full descriptions of the projects awarded in the 2020 round of funding are given from the links below.

2021 Award Recipients

Community-Based Narrative Story Maps of the Lost Auraria Neighborhood

Date: 11/1/2021
Principal Researchers: Brian Page

Unit: Department of Geography and Environmental Sciences 

Project Abstract: This research addresses the relationship of CU Denver to its urban renewal roots.  The goal of this place-based project is to acknowledge, document, and commemorate what was removed and those who were displaced in the early 1970s to make way for the Auraria campus.  The project uses digital methods to develop and disseminate new information about the lost Auraria neighborhood.  Over the past several years, we created a robust historical GIS for the original Auraria district – an area of more than one and a half square miles -- featuring six high-resolution georeferenced digitized map layers and six high-resolution georeferenced digitized aerial photographic layers.  This project uses these GIS layers to generate prototype narrative story maps that combine a) digital visualizations of the old neighborhood, and b) digital stories based upon the experiences of people who once lived and worked in the district.  The research is being conducted in consultation with our community partner, the Auraria Historical Advocacy Council (AHAC).  The ultimate aim of the research is to use the prototype story maps as the basis of multi-year external grant proposals to the State Historical Fund at History Colorado and the National Endowment of the Humanities (NEH) Digital Humanities Advancement Grants program.

brian-page-editedBrian Page Bio: I am Brian Page and I have a PhD in Geography from UC Berkeley.  I am an Associate Professor in the Department of Geography and Environmental Sciences at CU Denver, where I have been on the faculty since 1992.  I specialize in research on the historical development of urban places from a political-economic perspective using archival methods, visual methods, field study, and geospatial science.  Regionally, I have active interests in both the United States and China.  Specific research topics include urban landscape history, digital landscape reconstruction, urban renewal and redevelopment, gentrification, social displacement, historic preservation, and the relationship of cities to the natural environmental.  My research has been supported by the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, the National Science Foundation, the Newberry Library, History Colorado, and the University of Colorado Denver. 

Photo Credit:  Liza Lagman Sperl

2020 Award Recipients