About Who We Are

Our Mission

The mission of the Institute for Metropolitan Studies is to advance public understanding of California’s planning, urbanization and development -- How California Gets Made. Rooted in the CSU systems’ historic commitment to teaching and public service, we believe a citizenry more knowledgeable about how California is made will be better able to address our region and our state’s pressing social and environmental challenges. We focus on building sustainable civic infrastructure that helps improve decision-making, operation, efficacy and equity in California’s planning and development systems, and on developing bold ideas, initiatives and novel collaborations across silos, sectors and metropolitan areas.

Gordon Douglas
Gordon Douglas, Director of the Institute for Metropolitan Studies

Gordon C. C. Douglas

Gordon Douglas is an assistant professor of urban and regional planning at San José State University. Gordon’s research, teaching, and community work focus on questions of access, equity, and local cultural identity in urban planning and design. He is the author of The Help-Yourself City: Legitimacy and Inequality in DIY Urbanism (Oxford, 2018), and his writing and photography have appeared in publications ranging from academic journals to magazines, newspapers, and blogs. He has been interviewed as an expert on topics ranging from gentrification to graffiti for stories in The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, 99% Invisible, Fast Company, Streetsblog, the National Post (Toronto), La Presse (Montreal), and multiple TV and radio news outlets. Born in London and raised in Northern California, Gordon received his doctorate in sociology from the University of Chicago and also holds degrees from the University of Southern California and the London School of Economics. As Director of the Institute for Metropolitan Studies, he works to expand the relevance and visibility of the institute as a source for public programming, research, and pedagogy for SJSU and the communities we serve.

Lou Jimenez
Lou Jimenez, portrait done by Samuel Rodriguez, 2018

Lourdes Jimenez

Lourdes Jimenez is the IMS Program Assistant and a current senior at SJSU. She is majoring in Art History & Visual Communication while simultaneously working towards an Urban Studies minor. Her interests and focus are researching cultural synergies and semiotic fields that contribute to the cultural economy of an urban landscape and plans to proceed with the MUP program offered at SJSU.

Alex Schafran
Alex Schafran Ph.D, IMS Fellow

Alex Schafran, Ph.D

Alex Schafran is an author, strategist and researcher focused on housing and urban development, particularly in California. He is the author of The Road to Resegregation: Northern California and the Failure of Politics (UC Press, 2018), a book which explains how and why one one of the wealthiest and most progressive regions in the country resegregated so dramatically. His newest book, The Spatial Contract: A New Politics of Provision for an Urbanized Planet, lays the foundation for building a new social contract for key systems like housing and transportation, and imagines a world where these systems we rely upon for basic freedoms play a greater role in our politics. He lives in Oakland, and works to develop new coalitions and strategies for California housing and development politics. You can find his new writing on California on his Substack, Where We Go From Here. A longtime academic, he is excited to play a role in helping the IMS grow and transform.