Hi! I'm Katrina Johnston-Zimmerman, an urban anthropologist and lecturer from Philadelphia.
As a "professional people-watcher" I can tell the story of a public space - be it a street, park, or plaza - in order to better inform the built environment. It is my belief that through applied anthropology, we can create humanist cities for all.
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Observing is understanding.
If you've ever heard of William H. Whyte, you know what I do on a daily basis.
"Holly" Whyte was, in many ways, an anthropologist by proxy. He observed how people used the public spaces of New York City and came to some impactful conclusions on behavior in our urban environments.
Through direct observations of how people move through space, interact with the built environment, and socialize with each other (physically, and now digitally), it was possible to improve urban planning and policy to create cities for people. And it still is.
I strive to continue this work wherever I go, constantly observing my surroundings in order to better understand human behavior in cities. When we think of these places as our habitats as a species the city takes on a new meaning.
Through anthropology, evidence-based design, and user experience research, we can work together to create better cities for all people.
I think a lot.
As an anthropologist, I'm curious about us - homo sapiens sapiens - and why we behave the way we do in society and spaces.
As an urbanist, I'm passionate about our cities - our unique man-made habitats - and how we can make them better for us mentally and physically.
As an urban anthropologist, I am committed to applying anthropological principles, research methods, and the lessons learned from our collective history to the present day. To this end, I have built my career around the specialization of behavior in public space: observing interactions between people and the built environment in the spaces between buildings. I do this through “spatial ethnographies” of these places.
And as a human being and woman I've also made it my goal to advocate for this shift in thinking - toward a more humanist approach to the building and management of our cities by and for women and girls.
Want to meet for coffee? Start a new project? Commission an expert interview? I'm always open for collaboration or just a conversation. Feel free to send me an email at katrina [at] thinkurban.org.
Otherwise, you can find me most often here:
Project Manager, Lindy Institute for Urban Innovation, Drexel University
Adjunct Professor, MS in Urban Strategy Program, Drexel University
Co-founder, The Women Led Cities Initiative
Guest Lecturer, Master’s Programme in Urbanism Studies, Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm
Chair, Design Committee of South Street Headhouse Square District