Professor George Galster, of Wayne State University, visited the Lewis Center this week to present a vibrant summary of his new book, “Driving Detroit: The Quest for Respect in the Motor City.” Speaking to a full room of students, faculty, staff and Luskin School guests, Galster offered his insight into how Detroit arrived at its current dysfunctional metropolis. His analytical framework used basic psychological principals to examine how Detroit’s residents quest for securing physical, social and psychological resources contributed to this deterioration. Galster demonstrated this framework with a series of examples, including the “chain of moves” whereby developers continually built new housing on the ever-expanding urban fringes, encouraging residents to persistently purchase a home in a nicer neighborhood than where they currently live. As this cycle continues, the urban core is left to decay, creating an environment where 30% of land is now vacant, leaving dire consequences to the physical and economic environment. He attested this and other rational choices made by individuals, when combined, are collectively irrational.
Throughout his talk, Galster demonstrated moving use of language, once describing an abandoned automotive assembly plant as the “fossilized bones of an industrialized dinosaur.” The question and answer session, following an excellent lecture, expanded the discussion to cover gender struggles, pension issues, urban agriculture and a slew of other topics, which Galster continued to address in a thoughtful and informative matter.
The Lewis Center would like to extend our gratitude to Associate Director and Urban Planning Professor, Michael Lens, for bringing Professor Galster to speak at the Luskin School of Public Affairs. Professor Galster’s book “Driving Detroit: The Quest for Respect in the Motor City” is available now.