Ph.D. in Urban and Regional Planning
Urban and Regional Planning


/ PhD Student

Christine Hwang

Christine Hwang is a Ph.D. candidate in urban and regional planning interested in religion, race, and the built environment. She studies how multiple perceptions of neighborhood, shaped by different identities and belief systems, can exist in the same space.

Her dissertation is on how the Catholic Church acted as an urban planning entity in twentieth-century Detroit by mapping the city around Catholic parish neighborhoods. These Catholic parish neighborhoods often paradoxically served as both places of refuge for European Catholic immigrants against a hostile Protestant national landscape and tools for excluding Black migrants arriving from heavily-Protestant regions of the American South. Her research asks how religious institutions plan for rapidly racially and religiously diversifying cities and how planners make decisions when there are multiple, often paradoxical, perceptions of space, particularly in relation to racial and religious identities.

In addition to her dissertation research, Christine engages in research on neighborhood planning, gentrification, and activism and the imagining of alternative futures in legacy cities. During her time at Michigan, she has been involved in the Carceral State Project, the Michigan-Mellon Project on Egalitarianism and the Metropolis, and the Settler Colonial City Project. She also served as a co-coordinator for the Planning and Architecture Research Group (P+ARG) and its biennial conference.

Prior to embarking on her Ph.D., Christine worked in Baltimore, MD as an urban planner and designer on housing and sustainability plans at Living Design Lab and a researcher at the Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance where she focused on collecting and analyzing arts and culture data through the Geoloom co>map. Additionally, she previously worked at the Harvard Kennedy School Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation and the Urban Theory Lab at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. Christine completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Michigan and a master in urban planning at Harvard University.