Downtown Tucson Redevelopment and Revitalization

A MESSAGE FROM THE DEAN: Our College and Downtown Tucson

I often receive questions about what the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences is doing in downtown Tucson, and what opportunities exist for those who want to take part in our work and facilities there.

Everything we do Downtown is guided by two premises: first, as a part of our underlying mission we have a responsibility to the public – which includes our staff, faculty and students – to enhance the cultural, social and economic vitality of our city, region, and state. And second, that our limited resources can be best leveraged and realized  in our city, and in particular Downtown. That area has seen recent tremendous change and is primed for even more activity. I strongly believe that our faculty, across their myriad research, teaching, and outreach activities, can help direct that growth in positive ways.  To that end, we have a initiated and supported several programs that in invest in downtown.

Downtown Lecture Series

In 2013, we packed the Fox Theatre with the theme of "Happiness." Faculty lecturers from several of our colleges offered their takes on the topic and the response was overwhelmingly positive. The lectures were also live-streamed to Downtown clubs, UA dorms and the Recreation Center, and distant gatherings, such as Green Valley. Most importantly, we enlivened Downtown for five Wednesday nights in the middle of the fall semester.

Our 2014 series was on "Food," and it brought us in contact with interesting things going on in the Tucson food scene, including our local food justice movement.  In 2015 we addressed "Immortality" and how our beliefs about life beyond death shape the human experience. And this past year, we experts in privacy issues from around the nation to discuss the future of "Privacy."

Tucson Meet Yourself/Southwest Folklife Alliance

Another major activity we invested in is the renewed Tucson Meet Yourself, which, under the guiding hand of UA’s Public Folklorist, Dr. Maribel Alvarez of the Southwest Center and the School of Anthropology, has been incorporated into the Southwest Folklife Alliance. The Alliance is a UA/SBS-affiliated and Southwest Center-homed 501c3 organization aimed at building “more equitable and vibrant communities by celebrating the everyday expressions of culture, heritage and diversity in the Greater Southwest.” It has an expanded vision as the Arizona Commission for  the Arts’ designated "State Partner for Folk Arts" at the National Endowment for the Arts. It also includes a master-apprentice program, a small business incubator program, an ethnographic field school, and more. And when we discussed where to physically locate the Alliance offices, the choice was clear: in the Roy Place Building at Stone and Pennington, also known as UA Downtown.

UA Downtown

Our presence in UA Downtown is an exciting and ongoing project. UA is close to signing a long term, low-cost lease with Pima County for the use of the property. We are extremely grateful to our County partners for their renovations to improve the building, and are hopeful that a culturally diverse and economically successful Downtown will support the expansion of our activities there. Another major activity in the building is the Master's in Public Administration degree, offered by the School of Government and Public Policy. We are also collaborating with the College of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture and the Institute of the Environment on the Sustainable City Project. There are opportunities for new outreach centers; student engagement maker-spaces; non-credit training programs designed for community members; and other academic programs. The property has a wonderful board room and a classroom for weekend community gatherings. My hope is that faculty from across the college will think of UA Downtown when they are considering how they might best connect with the many communities they engage. 

Studio 44

Finally, we have nearly completed furnishing Studio 44, our "loft" at 44 East Broadway Blvd. It is a roughly 2,000 square-foot, fully equipped apartment designed and outfitted in contemporary style, and is perfect for meetings with boards, community partners, faculty collaborators, and donors. When finished, it will accommodate overnight guests, workshops, boardroom or dinner-style arrangements; a typical "salon" or faculty presentation arrangement; and receptions. Studio 44 will offer us a special place to showcase what we do while contributing to a thriving downtown Tucson. If you'd like to rent Studio 44, please visit: https://studio44.arizona.edu/.

John Paul (JP) Jones III,
Dean, College of Social and Behavioral Sciences