Issues in Preservation Policy: Preservation and Social Inclusion (Copy)

Heritage occupies a privileged position within the built environment. Most municipalities in the United States, and nearly all countries around the world, have laws and policies to preserve heritage in situ, seeking to protect places from physical loss and the forces of change. That privilege, however, is increasingly being unsettled by the legacies of racial, economic, and social injustice in both the built environment and historic preservation policy, and by the compounding climate crisis. Though many heritage projects and practitioners are confronting injustice and climate in innovative ways, systemic change requires looking beyond the formal and material dimensions of place and to the processes and outcomes of preservation policy—operationalized through laws and guidelines, regulatory processes, and institutions—across time and socio-geographic scales, and in relation to the publics they are intended to serve.

This third volume in the Issues in Preservation Policy series examines historic preservation as an enterprise of ideas, methods, institutions, and practices that must reorient toward a new horizon, one in which equity and sustainability become critical guideposts for policy evolution.

With contributions from Lisa T. Alexander, Louise Bedsworth, Ken Bernstein, Robin Bronen, Sara C. Bronin, Shreya Ghoshal, Scott Goodwin, Claudia Guerra, Victoria Herrmann, James B. Lindberg, Randall Mason, Jennifer Minner, David Moore, Marcy Rockman, Stephanie Ryberg-Webster, A.R. Siders, Amanda L. Webb, and Vicki Weiner.

Available online and in print.

Issues in Preservation Policy: Preservation and Social Inclusion

The preservation enterprise helps fashion the physical contours of memory in public space, and thus has the power to curate a multidimensional and inclusive representation of societal values and narratives. Increasingly, the field of preservation is being challenged to consider questions of social inclusion, of how multiple publics are—or are not—represented in heritage decision-making, geographies, and governance structures. Community engagement is increasingly being integrated into project-based preservation practice, but the policy toolbox has been slower to evolve. Recognizing how preservation and other land use decisions can both empower and marginalize publics compels greater reflection on preservation’s past and future and collective action beyond the project level. This requires professionals and institutions to consider systemic policy change with integrity, sensitivity, and intentionality.

Bringing together a broad range of academics, historians, and practitioners, this second volume in the Issues in Preservation Policy series documents historic preservation’s progress toward inclusivity and explores further steps to be taken.

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The Louisville Civic Assembly

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In February 2020, 89.3 WFPL News in Louisville and  The American Assembly at Columbia University conducted The Next Louisville: Civic Assembly, a community-driven virtual conversation. The goal was to  explore the issues that matter most in Louisville — and to identify potential solutions.

The Civic Assembly was conducted with an online tool called Polis, which allows participants to make and respond to each other’s brief statements. The result is a community-directed survey of opinion and also a loose dialogue as participants respond to statements with new submissions of their own. The only direction was a framing question: “What do you believe should change in Louisville to make it a better place to live, work and spend time?”

Read the Report

Issues in Preservation Policy: Preservation and the New Data Landscape

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Over the past fifty years, preservation policy has evolved very little, despite escalating accusations that landmarking and historic districting can inhibit affordable housing, economic development, and socioeconomic diversity. The potential to understand these dynamics and effect positive change is hindered by a lack of data resources and evidence-based research to better understand these impacts. One of the biggest barriers to preservation research has been the lack of data sets that can be used for geospatial, evidence-based, and longitudinal analyses.

This first book in the series Issues in Preservation Policy explores the ways that enhancing the collection, accuracy, and management of data can serve a critical role in identifying vulnerable neighborhoods, understanding the role of older buildings in economic vitality and community resilience, planning sustainable growth, and more. For preservation to play a dynamic role in sustainable development and social inclusion, policy must evolve beyond designation and design regulation and use evidence-based research to confront new realities in the management of urban environments and their communities.

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Middle Neighborhoods Working Group Meeting Schedule Outline (Oct. 2018)

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October 2018

“Building Advocacy for Middle Neighborhoods” on Tuesday, November 13th and Wednesday, November 14th, 2018 in Cleveland, Ohio is an INVITATION ONLY working group meeting. The schedule outline below is designed to strengthen the growing movement of practitioners, policymakers, and researchers dedicated to stabilizing neighborhoods “on the edge” between growth and decline.

The agenda features new research as well as new tactics to mobilize support nationally. Designed to accommodate a robust response to an open call for session proposals, the agenda also prioritizes peer sharing and training opportunities as well as spontaneous self-organized workshops on topics of mutual interest. A major focus of the meeting is on identifying pathways to broaden and deepen the middle neighborhoods movement. Also important is demonstrating how middle neighborhoods stabilization can reinforce inclusive development and racial equity, in Cleveland and nationally.

Click here to view a detailed schedule PDF, which includes full descriptions of plenary and breakout sessions, as well as goals and anticipated outcomes for the meeting.

Day 1: Tuesday, November 13, 2018, 2:00 - 8:30pm

2:00 – 4:30pm        Tour of Cleveland’s middle neighborhoods

5:30 – 5:45pm        Welcome by Joel Ratner, Cleveland Neighborhood Progress, and The Honorable Frank Jackson, Mayor of the city of Cleveland

5:45 – 7:30pm        Panel Discussion and Q&A: “The Essential Role of Middle Neighborhoods in Comprehensive Development”

7:30 – 8:30pm        Cocktail Reception at Merwin’s Wharf


Day 2: Wednesday, November 14, 2018, 8:00am - 5:00pm

Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland – BY INVITATION ONLY*

8:00 – 8:30am          Registration and Breakfast

8:30 – 10:00am        Opening Plenary: Building Advocacy for Middle Neighborhoods

10:05 – 11:00am      Round I: Concurrent Breakout Sessions

11:00 – 11:15am       Break

11:15am – 12:00pm    Presentation on New Research

12:00 – 1:15pm      Lunch Plenary: Mobilizing an Inclusive Movement

1:15 – 1:30pm        Break

1:30 – 2:25pm        Round II: Concurrent Breakout Sessions

2:30 – 3:25pm        Round III: Concurrent Breakout Sessions

3:25 – 3:35pm        Break

3:35 – 5:00pm        Concluding Plenary: Goals and Next Steps

5:00pm                   Adjourn

*all working group participants must be pre-registered


MN Cleveland Agenda (Download the PDF)

The Bowling Green Civic Assembly Report

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Over 2,000 people participated in our '' online civic conversation in Bowling Green, Kentucky.  Together they submitted over 600 statements and voted nearly a quarter-million times.  These statements dealt with divisive issues such as immigration and LGBTQ rights, but overwhelmingly, the things people wanted to talk about were things about which people agreed.  People agreed about traffic and local development, about the need for improved community and commercial services, about government accountability, job training, and education.  This report explores the Bowling Green results and explains the methodology.

Read the Report

Shadow Libraries

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2018. Joe Karaganis (ed.)

We’re happy to announce the publication of Shadow Libraries: Access to Knowledge in Global Higher Education (2018).  It is, in many respects, a sequel to Media Piracy in Emerging Economies (2011) and involves many of the same researchers. It’s also available for free under a CC license.  

From the intro:

From the top down, Shadow Libraries explores the institutions that shape the provision of [learning] materials, from the formal sector of universities and publishers to the broadly informal ones organized by faculty, copy shops, student unions, and students themselves. It looks at the history of policy battles over access to education in the post–World War II era and at the narrower versions that have played out in relation to research and textbooks, from library policies to book subsidies to, more recently, the several “open” publication models that have emerged in the higher education sector.

From the bottom up, Shadow Libraries explores how, simply, students get the materials they need. It maps the ubiquitous practice of photocopying and what are—in many cases—the more marginal ones of buying books, visiting libraries, and downloading from unauthorized sources. It looks at the informal networks that emerge in many contexts to share materials, from face-to-face student networks to Facebook groups, and at the processes that lead to the consolidation of some of those efforts into more organized archives that circulate offline and sometimes online—the shadow libraries of our title…..

Universities play complicated roles in these conflicts, shaped by the fact that few make adequate provision of materials to their students. Regardless of copyright law, administrative preferences, or official positions, this reality usually dictates policies of toleration or accommodation of student practices—in some cases turning a blind eye to the copying ecosystem and in other cases moving to formally or semiformally incorporate it. This tolerance also reflects the proliferation of copying and communication technologies throughout the student and faculty population, which makes the copyright management function traditionally centralized in libraries largely obsolete…..

At one level, these skirmishes testify to the conservatism of universities. Few have followed the Brazilian example of cutting through the knot of narrow or obsolete copyright exceptions. Few have accepted publisher proposals to adopt more extensive surveillance and control of students and faculty—and, to the best of our knowledge, none to any significant effect. Few have moved decisively toward open models for the range of academic and teaching publications in use—though some schools, systems, and national research funders have begun to do so for research articles. In practice, the informal copying ecosystem operates as a safety valve for these conversations, denying publishers the more complete markets they want but also forestalling a sharper crisis of access that might lead to a break with existing publishing and policy paradigms. The copying ecosystem compensates, imperfectly but also cheaply, for the weaknesses of the commercial and library models of provision. Where this ecosystem is not internalized by the university, it is externalized by the students.

Download the book for free from MIT Press

Middle Neighborhoods: Action Agenda for a National Movement

2018. Paul C. Brophy (ed.), Pamela Puchalski (ed.), Stephanie Sung (ed.)
Project Director: Paul C. Brophy; The American Assembly, in partnership with the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond; and with support from Lincoln Institute of Land Policy and Healthy Neighborhoods, Inc.

"Middle Neighborhoods: Action Agenda for a National Movement" is a report that summarizes discussions from a meeting, held November 15-16, 2017 in Baltimore and co-sponsored by The American Assembly and the Federal Reserve Bank, with support from the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy and Healthy Neighborhoods Inc., a leading community development organization in Baltimore. Experts from varying disciplines and backgrounds, each familiar with the context of middle neighborhoods in cities across the United States, divided themselves into three working groups to advance issues in policy, practice, and research. Among the participants were the Mayor of Baltimore, Catherine Pugh; Philadelphia City Councilwoman Cherelle Parker; and two Congressional members, Dan Kildee (D-MI), and Dwight Evans (D-PA).

For a summary of conclusions, including highlights from each working group, and next steps, 


"Middle Neighborhoods: Action Agenda for a National Movement" (Download PDF)



The Influence Mapping project sponsored the development of an improved, stand-alone version of Oligrapher—a social network mapping tool—to support the work of data journalists and other researchers who need to tell stories based on complex social network data.  Oligrapher allows a writer to pull out and highlight key relationships within larger networks that might otherwise get lost in a full representation of the network. It also permits paginated views that allow authors to sequentially annotate and highlight different of the map.

The first version of Oligrapher was built by and closely integrated into Littlesis—an online database that maps social and political relationships in support of accountability journalism.  The new version can be downloaded and installed by anyone (with a bit of technical expertise) to work on their websites and support work on their own social network analyses.

Learn more about Oligrapher

On the Edge: America's Middle Neighborhoods

2016. Paul C. Brophy (ed.)

On the Edge: America’s Middle Neighborhoods, edited by Paul C. Brophy, aims to stimulate a national dialogue about middle neighborhoods. Presented through case studies and essays by leading policymakers, community development professionals, and scholars, this volume explores the complex web of neighborhoods transitioning—for better or worse—across the US.

“One way to think about middle neighborhoods is they are on the edge between growth and decline. These are neighborhoods where housing is often affordable and where quality of life—measured by employment rates, crime rates, and public school performance—is sufficiently good that new home buyers are willing to play the odds and choose these neighborhoods over others in hopes they will improve rather than decline.”

-Paul C. Brophy

The declining middle class and growing income segregation and inequality are the backdrop for this publication. The authors of On the Edge provide fresh ideas for action, advocating for new and innovative community, housing, and education policies to support middle neighborhoods and create opportunities for the millions of people who live in them.

Learn more at

Available at: 



On the Edge: America's Middle Neighborhoods (Download PDF)

Notice and Takedown in Everyday Practice

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2016. Jennifer Urban, Joe Karaganis, Brianna Schofield

American Assembly and Berkeley Law

"Notice and Takedown in Everyday Practice" is a set of empirical studies into the DMCA’s notice and takedown process. Despite its importance to copyright holders, online service providers, and Internet speakers, very little empirical research has been done on how effective notice and takedown is in addressing copyright infringement, spurring online service provider development, or due process for notice targets.

Our report is the most in-depth research we know of to date into this system. It includes three studies that draw back the curtain on notice and takedown:  using detailed surveys and interviews with more than three dozen respondents, the first study gathers information on how online service providers and rightsholders experience and practice notice and takedown on  a day-to-day basis; the second study examines a random sample from over 100 million notices generated during a six-month period to see who is sending notices, why, and whether they are valid takedown requests; and the third study looks specifically at a subset of those notices that were sent to Google Image Search.

The findings suggest that whether notice and takedown “works” is highly dependent on who is using it and how it is practiced, though all respondents agreed that the Section 512 safe harbors remain fundamental to the online ecosystem.  Perhaps surprisingly in light of large-scale online infringement, a large portion of OSPs still receive relatively few notices and process them by hand. For some major players, however, the scale of online infringement has led to automated, “bot”-based systems that leave little room for human review or discretion, and in a few cases notice and takedown has been abandoned in favor of techniques such as content filtering.

The second and third studies revealed surprisingly high percentages of notices of questionable validity—mistakes are made by both by "bots" and by humans. In one study, we reviewed automated notices—created, sent, and processed largely by computers. These notices overwhelmingly targeted well-known infringing sites and requested removal of major copyright holders’ assets, which may lessen concerns that mistakes would have negative effects on expression. Unfortunately, however, they also exhibited a number of flaws. One in twenty-five of the takedown requests (4.2 percent) targeted material that clearly did not match the copyrighted work, and nearly a third (28.4 percent) raised at least one question about their validity—ranging from failure to identify the materials in dispute to targeting potentially legal uses. These percentages translate to many millions of notices in the entire set—for example, the 4.2 percent translates to about 4.5 million notices.

The other statistical study raised further concerns. These requests tended to be sent by smaller senders—individuals and small businesses—apparently by humans rather than computers.  But they exhibited even more flaws. A full seven out of ten (72 percent) presented questions about their validity. More than half (all problematic) were from one individual sender. Even without her notices, however, 36.8 percent were questionable. These notices often targeted social media, blogs, and personal websites, raising even greater questions about their effect on expression.

The United States Copyright Office recently issued a “Notice of Inquiry” (a formal study) of the DMCA’s notice and takedown process, with comments due on April 1, making this research very timely. The findings strongly suggest that the notice and takedown system is important, under strain, and that there is no “one size fits all” approach to improving it. Based on the findings, we suggest a variety of reforms to law and practice

Available at: 

Social Science Research Network

The Open Syllabus Explorer

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The Syllabus Explorer leverages a collection of over one million syllabi collected from university and departmental websites.  It provides:

  • The first version of a new publication metric (Teaching Rank) based on how often texts are taught.

  • A unique course-building tool that provides information about what’s taught with what.

  • A promising means of exploring the history of fields, curricular change, and differences in teaching across institutions, states, and countries.

The Syllabus Explorer publishes only metadata (citations, dates, locations, etc) extracted from its collection via machine learning techniques.  It does not publish underlying documents or personally identifying information.

The Explorer is very much a work in progress.  As you may discover, it gets a lot of things wrong.  Fixes and improvements will be incremental. But it also gets a lot right, and makes curricula visible and navigable in ways that are valuable to authors, teachers, researchers, administrators, publishers, and students.

Available at: The Open Syllabus Explorer

Action Agenda for Historic Preservation in Legacy Cities

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2015. Cara Bertron (ed.)

Published by: Preservation Rightsizing Network

"Action Agenda for Historic Preservation in Legacy Cities" is a report containing a nine-point strategy to shape new approaches to preservation, to adapt existing tools and policies used by preservationists, and to promote place-based collaboration, especially in legacy cities like Newark, Detroit, and Cleveland. By offering new strategies for protecting local cultural heritage, "Action Agenda" serves as a guide for preserving the stories of Rust Belt cities and communities and make them more equitable, prosperous, and sustainable in the face of economic shifts. Using examples from Cincinnati, Buffalo, Detroit, and more, the report offers suggested next steps, potential partners from preservation and allied fields, and financing and coalition-building toolkits for urban development and preservation advocates.

Learn more about the release event here and The Assembly's work in Historic Preservation in Legacy Cities here.

Available at: 



"Action Agenda for Historic Preservation in Legacy Cities" (Download PDF)

The Rise of Robo Notice

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2015. Joe Karaganis, Jennifer Urban

Communications of the ACM, September 2015

"Rise of the Robo Notice" is a preview of our longer publication, Notice and Takedown in Everyday Practice (2016).

Here's an excerpt of the book's introduction:

Most Internet professionals have some familiarity with the “notice and takedown” process created by the 1998 U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act (the DMCA). Notice and takedown was conceived to serve three purposes: it created a cheap and relatively fast process for resolving copyright claims against the users of online services (short of ling a lawsuit); it established steps online services could take to avoid liability as intermediaries in those disputes—the well-known DMCA “safe harbor”; and it provided some protection for free speech and fair use by users in the form of “counter notice” procedures.

The great virtue of the notice and takedown process for online services is its proceduralism. To take the most common example, if a service reliant on user-generated content follows the statutory procedures, acts on notices, and otherwise lacks specific knowledge of user infringement on its site (the complicated “red flag” knowledge standard), it can claim safe harbor protection in the event of a lawsuit. Services can make decisions about taking down material based on substantive review and their tolerance for risk. They may also adopt technologies or practices to supplement notice and takedown, though the law makes no such demands beyond a requirement for repeat infringer policies. The resulting balance has enabled a relatively broad scope for innovation in search and user-generated content services. As one entrepreneur put it in our recent study of these issues, notice and takedown was “written into the DNA” of the Internet sector.

This basic model held for about a decade. In the last five or six years, however, the practice of notice and takedown has changed dramatically, driven by the adoption of automated notice-sending systems by rights holder groups responding to sophisticated infringing sites. As automated systems became common, the number of takedown requests increased exponentially.

For some online services, the numbers of complaints went from dozens or hundreds per year to hundreds of thousands or millions. In 2009, Google’s search service received less than 100 takedown requests. In 2014, it received 345 million requests. Although Google is the extreme outlier, other services— especially those in the copyright ‘hot zones’ around search, storage, and social media—saw order-of-magnitude increases. Many others—through luck, obscurity, or low exposure to copyright conflicts—remained within the “DMCA Classic” world of low-volume notice and takedown.

This split in the application of the law undermined the rough industry consensus about what services needed to do to keep their safe harbor protection. As automated notices overwhelmed small legal teams, targeted services lost the ability to fully vet the complaints they received. Because companies exposed themselves to high statutory penalties if they ignored valid complaints, the safest path afforded by the DMCA was to remove all targeted material. Some companies did so. Some responded by developing automated triage procedures that prioritized high-risk notices for human review (most commonly, those sent by individuals).

Others began to move beyond the statutory requirements in an effort to reach agreement with rights holder groups and, in some cases, to reassert some control over the copyright disputes on their services.

Available at: 

"Rise of the Robo Notice" at Communications of the ACM

Connecting People to Work: Workforce Intermediaries and Sector Strategies

2014. Maureen Conway (ed.), Robert P. Giloth (ed.)

The American Assembly

Workforce development—helping Americans in the US build the skills they need to get jobs in a rapidly changing economy—has increasingly adopted sector-based strategies, which prioritize training in the specific skillsets that employers need.  In this volume, Maureen Conway and Robert P. Giloth bring together a wide range of perspectives on the evolution of sector-based workforce development in industries ranging from health to construction. The book offers lessons for policymakers, philanthropic investors, researchers and local leaders interested in policies and practices that help connect struggling workers to good jobs. 

Connecting People to Work (2014) features case studies of workforce development strategies in the health care, construction, manufacturing, and restaurant industries; and highlights how policy and economic changes and new practices among education and training institutions are affecting workforce development efforts. It also includes a review of major sector-financing strategies.

The book revisits issues explored in Workforce Intermediaries for the Twenty-first Century (2003).

Available at: