Introducing a New Fellow and HASTAC Scholars Co-Director

Hello to the FI community! My name is Hilary and I’m a PhD candidate in Geography at the CUNY Graduate Center. I’m honored to be serving as the new HASTAC Scholars Co-Director.

To the Futures Initiative and HASTAC, I bring with me both a passion for mentorship and a desire to build public institutions that serve all members of our society, not just the wealthiest and most privileged among us. After many years of mentoring high school students in various capacities prior to returning to graduate school, I served for several years as a Provost’s Enhancement Fellow and mentor in the CUNY Pipeline program, which provides material resources and support for CUNY undergraduates as they pursue post-graduate studies and careers. I have also taught Urban Studies at Hunter College, where one of my favorite aspects of the job was working one-on-one with students. Research shows that mentorship is essential for success in academia, particularly for students and faculty from underrepresented groups. This certainly rings true for me – mentorship from faculty and peers has been key to navigating what is all too often an inhospitable academic environment. I’m excited to hold space for and work with HASTAC Scholars as we learn from one another and grow as researchers and educators.

One thing I appreciate most about the Futures Initiative is its emphasis on transforming the pedagogical and institutional culture of higher education. To date, I’ve tried in my small way to do this through mentorship, as I mentioned above, and by incorporating open-source tools and critical perspectives into my research and pedagogical practice. Given that most students at public institutions like CUNY have significant financial constraints, often working full-time while going to school, it is important to me to design my curriculum around free and easily accessible materials, data sources, and applications. In my own research, I utilize open-source tools like QGIS and R to study the political economy of cities, including in my dissertation, which looks at the uneven impacts of debt-financed development in post-industrial Milwaukee. One of my motivations in pursuing this line of research was to not only document the limitations of current approaches to development in Rust Belt cities, but also to think through openings and opportunities to reclaim and transform local state institutions to better serve the common good.

I’m thrilled to be joining a group of scholars at the FI who are committed to making higher education more just as well as advocating for the structures and resources that are needed to fully make that a reality.


The Futures Initiative
The Graduate Center, CUNY
365 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10016-4309