Assistant Professor Julia Harten, new Faculty receives ACSP 2020 Student Award




Congratulations to our new faculty, Assistant Professor, Julia Harten for receiving the ACSP 2020 Student Award
Karen R. Polenske Award for Outstanding Student Paper on a China -Related Topic 


Winner of the Karen R. Polenske Award

The Karen R. Polenske Best Student Paper Award for Outstanding Paper on a China Planning Related Topic, established in honor of Massachusetts Institute of Technology Professor Karen R. Polenske - a prominent regional economist and a leading scholar of China's sustainable development - is given annually to International Association for China Planning (IACP) student members who present excellent research at major international planning conferences.

Currently the IACP presents one Polenske award at their annual conference in China and one Polenske award at their annual membership meeting in the United States during the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning (ACSP) conference.

The Karen R. Polenske Best Student Paper Award has been made possible by generous donations given by several distinguished individuals who are mostly Professor Polenske's former students.

The 2020 winner of the Karen R. Polenske Best Student Paper Award is Julia Harten, Sol Price School of Public Policy.

The award selection committee had this to say about the award winning paper: 

"Harten’s paper entitled 'Housing Single Women: Gender in China’s Shared Rental Housing Market' ranks at the top! We are impressed by the author’s dedication to research on the marginalized groups in China and the author’s intensive fieldwork conducted. The paper makes a significant contribution to China’s housing studies literature." 


Harten is an incoming Assistant Professor at the University of British Columbia. In August 2020, she earned her Ph.D. from the University of Southern California’s Sol Price School of Public Policy. Prior to USC, Harten studied at Münster University, Goethe University Frankfurt, and the Free University of Berlin, earning degrees in Business Administration, Economics, and China and East Asian Studies. She has worked inside and outside academia in Germany, China, Mexico, and the United States. Since 2010, she has spent multiple years in different parts of China and is fluent in Mandarin.

Her research focuses on diversifying housing trajectories, especially the housing strategies of recent migrants and city starters in growing cities. She aims to connect housing phenomena to their broader social contexts – for instance by involving the roles of education, demographic transition, social mobility, gender, and class for housing choices and the formation of new housing submarkets. To generate insights for policy and planning, she leverages new digital data opportunities and places them in dialogue with ethnographic fieldwork. Her dissertation project uses web scraped online advertisement data together with data from a multi-year ethnography to uncover the dynamics and social meaning of a hidden informal market for shared housing in Shanghai, China.

Harten’s research has been funded by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, the U.S. Department of Education, and the Lusk Center for Real Estate. Her work has been published in the Journal of the American Planning Association, the Journal of Planning Education and Research, and Urban Studies.

Here's "A Closer Look" at Harten:

Q: How did you feel when you learned you won?
A: I feel extremely honored to receive the 2020 Karen Polenske Award and am encouraged by the positive feedback for my work.

Q: Who do you want to thank, if anyone?
A: The awarded paper came out of my dissertation work and so I would like to express my deepest gratitude to my committee members Lisa Schweitzer and Chris Webster, and especially to my committee chair and dissertation advisor Annette Kim whose mentoring and guidance have been invaluable in shaping this project and my academic trajectory more broadly. I would also like to thank the Lusk Center for Real Estate and the USC Graduate School for the generous research support.

Q: What inspired you about this project?
A: We know that social constructs – such as gender – structure virtually all aspects of life. Yet, research on gender and housing continues to occupy a somewhat marginal position within the housing and planning literature. In this paper, I exploit the user-generated digital world to study gendered disparities in the real world. The fine granularity and inherently social nature of many of the new online data opportunities promise new possibilities to study the impact of more subtle but no less powerful social forces – such as gender – on important planning issues. Although my paper focuses on gender and housing within an informal housing submarket in China, I believe that my findings will be relevant to a broader audience. 

Q: What's next? 
A: I am excited to join the University of British Columbia's School of Community and Regional Planning this fall.

Harten will present her paper at the ACSP Annual Conference which will be held virtually November 5-8, 2020


Karen R. Polenske award