Guest Speakers: Governing Urban Diversity

Brief information about the keynote speakers presenting at the DIVERCITIES: Governing Urban Diversity conference in Rotterdam

Opening Address

Korrie Louwes

Korrie Louwes, the former Vice-Mayor of Rotterdam for Labour Market, Higher Education, Innovation and Participation will officially open the DIVERCITIES: Governing Urban Diversity conference.

Keynote Speakers

Paul Scheffer, Professor at the School of Humanities, Tilburg University is an influential figure surrounding the debate on diversity in the Netherlands. His book Immigrant Nations (Polity Press) published in is a major reassessment of how immigration is changing our world. The policies of multiculturalism that were implemented in the wake of post-war immigration have, especially since 9/11, come under intense scrutiny, and the continuing flow of populations has helped to ensure that immigration remains the focus of intense social and political debate. Based on his deep knowledge of the European and American experience, Scheffer shows how immigration entails the loss of familiar worlds, both for immigrants and for host societies. The conflict that accompanies all major migratory movements is not the result of a failure of integration, but is part of a search for new ways of living together. It prompts an intensive process of self-examination on all sides. Immigration has such a profound impact because it goes to the heart of institutions such as the welfare state and liberties like the freedom of expression; liberal democracies developing into immigrant nations go through an existential change. To cope with these challenges, Scheffer argues, we should move beyond multiculturalism and take a fresh look at the meaning of citizenship in a globalizing world.

University of Tilburg profile

Paul Scheffer
Janet Smith

Janet L Smith Ph.D., Associate Professor, Urban Planning and Policy Department & Co-Director, Nathalie P Voorhees Center for Neighborhood and Community Improvement, University of Illinois at Chicago.

Janet is an associate professor of urban planning and co-director of the Nathalie P. Voorhees Center for Neighborhood and Community Improvement, a research center that focuses on working to improve the conditions and lives of people in the Chicago metropolitan area. For three decades, Janet’s teaching, research and community service has focused on community and economic development issues and local housing planning and policy implementation. Her research includes public housing transformation in Chicago and US; housing and health outcomes; expanding housing opportunities for people with disabilities; and implementing community driven strategies to preserve and expand affordable housing. Published work on public housing includes several journal articles and Where are Poor People to Live? Transforming Public Housing Communities (M.E. Sharpe, 2006) a book co-edited and written with Larry Bennett and Patricia Wright. She also has just completed a book with John Betancur, Claiming Neighborhoods, which looks at neighborhood change in relation to accumulation and creative destruction (University of Illinois Press, Fall 2016).

Recent research completed through the Voorhees Center includes The Gentrification Index, which tracks neighborhood indicators from 1970-2010 to monitor change in Chicago’s 77 community areas; the Gentrification Toolkit, to help communities mitigate the negative effects of neighborhood change; and the Deepening Divide, a study of the growing inequality in Chicago and the region. All are available at

Janet currently is president of the International Sociological Association Research Council 43 Housing and the Built Environment, and an associate editor of Housing, Theory and Society. She also is president of the UIC United Faculty union, Local 6456, AFT-IFT, AAUP, AFL-CIO.

Janet earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts (1985) and Master of Urban Planning degree (1990) from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and a Ph.D. of Urban Studies from Cleveland State University (1998).

University of Illinois at Chicago profile

Ümit Kɩzɩltan holds a Master’s degree in Cultural Foundations of Education from Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY, and a Bachelor of Economics and a teaching certificate from Boğaziçi University, Istanbul.

He has taught graduate and undergraduate courses on social research methods, sociology of education, comparative education, and adult basic education at Boğaziçi University, Syracuse University, University of Victoria, and College of New Caledonia. He has worked more than a decade in northern British Columbia for Tl’azt’en Nation as an educator, researcher, and manager in treaty negotiations, natural resource management, community and cultural development. Subsequently, he worked for five years in the field of international development as the Deputy Executive Director of CUSO, in Ottawa, with a focus on community based civil society capacity building and inclusive governance in the global south. After a year and a half with the Assembly of First Nations as senior economist on the education and international relations file, Ümit joined Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) in 2006 as Director of Program Management and Control with a focus on refugee health at Health Management Branch. Since then, he has worked at Canadian Heritage, as Deputy Director General, Multiculturalism and Human Rights, and at CIC, as Acting Director General, Citizenship and Multiculturalism, and subsequently as Director General, Integration Program Management. Since April 2011, he has been in the position of Director General, Research and Evaluation, CIC.

Umit Kiziltan

Ruth Fincher is Redmond Barry Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the University of Melbourne, in the School of Geography. An urban and social geographer at the University of Melbourne for thirty years, where she held professorial chairs in geography and in urban planning, her roles there included those of Dean of the Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning, founding Director of the Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute , Pro Vice Chancellor and President of the University’s Academic Board. She is a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia, and in 2014 was made a Member of the Order of Australia for service to university education and to geography.

Long published internationally in the fields of human geography and urban studies, on questions of social difference, inequality and immigration in the city, Professor Fincher’s most recent book is Planning and Diversity in the City: Redistribution, Recognition and Encounter, co-authored with Kurt Iveson (Basingstoke, UK, Palgrave Macmillan, 2008). Her most recent major research project, undertaken with academic colleagues and governmental groups, examined the time stories of people living in tiny coastal communities who are coping with a projected future of sea level rise. And she is completing the manuscript for a new book on encounter and equality in the city, with colleagues Kurt Iveson, Helga Leitner and Valerie Preston.

University of Melbourne profile

Irena Guidikova, Head of Division, World Forum for Democracy

A graduate of Political Science and Political Philosophy from the Universities of Sofia (BG) and York (UK), she has been working at the Council of Europe since 1994. Her carrier started at the Directorate of Youth and Sport where she developed and carried out a large research programme, through a transversal 3-year project on the future of democracy in Europe producing standards on e-governance and e-voting, party financing, internet literacy and an agenda for the future of democracy in Europe. She then worked at the Private Office of the Secretary General where she was a policy advisor, and is now Head of Division at the Directorate of Democratic Governance, overseeing programmes on urban policies for intercultural integration and media and diversity. Since 2013 she is in also charge of the organisation of the annual World Forum for Democracy organised by the Council of Europe on issues relating to democratic innovation, bringing together over 1500 decision-makers, activists, journalists and academics from all over the world.

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