Andrew Lamas

Urban Studies Program / School of Arts & Sciences / Graduate Programs / School of Social Policy & Practice

           Andrew Lamas began teaching at the University of Pennsylvania in 1990. His primary appointment is in the School of Arts & Sciences’ Urban Studies Program, where he focuses on the theoretical and practical dimensions, as well as the philosophical and religious bases, of social justice and economic democracy — in the context of urbanization. He has also lectured in other schools and programs at Penn, including the Law School, the Wharton School, and the School of Social Policy & Practice, where he currently teaches courses for students pursuing degrees and careers in economic development, community development finance, NGO/non-profit leadership, and related fields. He participates in the Global Gender Group sponsored by the Women’s Studies Program, and he is an Affiliated Faculty of Women's Studies and the Alice Paul Center as well as a Faculty Affiliate of the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Center.

            Andy was a founding board member of the Center for Community Self-Help (which, since 1980, under the leadership of Martin Eakes, has provided $6 billion in financing to more than 62,000 small businesses, nonprofits, and homebuyers in North Carolina and California, with a particular focus on low-wealth minorities and women), and he was a co-founder of The Reinvestment Fund – TRF –  (which provides financing — with more than $550 million of capital under management — for affordable housing and community development in the Greater Philadelphia region and beyond; to date, TRF has financed more than 2,650 projects, delivering $1.1 billion in development capital). 

            In the 1980s, he served as the Managing Director of PACE, a non-profit organization based in Philadelphia, PA, which was one of the nation’s leading providers of technical assistance for cooperatives and was the developer (in collaboration with the United Food & Commercial Workers union) of the O&O Supermarkets, the nation’s first network of employee owned and operated supermarkets. He has also served on the boards of several arts and educational institutions, including Big Small Theater, InterAct Theatre, Miquon School, and Allens Lane Art Center. Annually, since 2003, he has taught a term-long course for high school students through the volunteer faculty program at Masterman High School. For more than twenty years, he has been the coordinator of a cooperative, feminist, softball league for girls and young women (grades K-12) in the Philadelphia neighborhood of Mount Airy.  In 2007 and 2008, he was on the National Urban Policy Committee of the Presidential Campaign of Barack Obama.

            Andy currently serves on the board of the Bread & Roses Community Fund  (which has distributed more than $10 million to organizations in the Philadelphia area working for access to health care, economic justice, a clean, safe environment, civil and human rights, and peace).  He is a senior consultant with Praxis Consulting Group  -- working with employee owned firms, community development financial institutions, and non-profit institutions.  

            He is the website editor of the International Herbert Marcuse Society .  In October 2011, he organized the Society's Fourth Biennial Conference – Critical Refusals, which featured more than 150 papers and presentations by scholars, artists, and activists from more than fifteen countries.  Special guest speakers included Angela Davis, Stanley Aronowitz, Richard Bernstein, Alex Callinicos, Andrew Feenberg, Michelle Fine, Lewis Gordon, Peter-Erwin Jansen, Douglas Kellner, Heather Love, Peter Marcuse, Charles Mills, Lucius Outlaw, Leo Panitch, Nina Power, Adolph Reed, and David Roediger.  Selected conference papers and additional articles will be published in the journal Radical Philosophy Review in Fall/Winter 2012; this special double-issue will be co-edited by Andrew Lamas as well as Douglas Kellner, Charles Reitz, and Arnold Farr.

            By appointment of Penn’s Office of the Vice Provost for Education, Andy serves on the Penn Fulbright Committee and regularly assists the Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships (CURF) in selecting and supporting students who are candidates for scholarships and fellowships, such as Fulbright, Rhodes, Marshall, Thouron, Gates Cambridge, Truman, Presidential Management Fellows, and others. He also serves on the Weigel Information Commons Faculty Advisory Group for Penn’s Van Pelt Library. At the Wharton School, Andy serves on the Faculty Advisory Board of Penn Social Entrepreneurship Mentoring Program (PennSEM) and on the Faculty Advisory Board of Penn International Business Volunteers (PIVB).

            Recent conference papers, public lectures, and publications include the following: “From Slavery to Liberation: The Critique of Wage Employment and the Shared Ownership Alternative in Nkrumah’s Africa and Lincoln’s America,” Central Pennsylvania Consortium African American Studies Conference, 2004; “From Black Bottom to Baghdad: Shared Ownership for Addressing Urban Poverty,” Urban Affairs Association Conference, 2004; “Thinking Critically about Microfinance: Lessons for the Middle East,” Middle East Economics Association / American Economics Association Conference, 2005; “Race, Poverty, and Shared Ownership,” in Chester Hartman, ed., Poverty & Race in America: The Emerging Agendas (Lexington Books, 2006); "Counter-Cultural / Counter-Capital: Marcuse's Medusa and Possibilities for a Radical Praxis of Art and Alternative Economy," Third Biennial Conference of the International Herbert Marcuse Society, York University, Toronto, Canada, 2009; “Community and Finance,” Osaka City University, Osaka, Japan, 2010; "Teaching Hegel with Coconuts," University of Liverpool, Liverpool, England, 2010; "Utopian Desire in the Classroom of Capitalist Critique and Alternative Economy," Utopia, Crisis, Justice, 12th International Conference of the Utopian Studies Society (Europe), University of Cyprus, Nicosia, 2011; "Critical Refusals," International Herbert Marcuse Society, 4th Biennial Conference, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, 2011.

            Beginning in 2007, with support from the Provost’s Undergraduate Research Mentoring Program at the University of Pennsylvania, he launched a research project on alternative currency in communities across the globe. To date, research projects have been undertaken by Prof. Lamas and his students in cities in the United States, England, Italy, Spain, Argentina, Ecuador, Senegal, Morocco, Japan, and South Korea. 

            He founded and directs the Social Justice Research Academy, a month-long, residential program at the University of Pennsylvania for high school students from around the world.  This annual program (every July) brings students together with Penn faculty to examine the historical importance and the contemporary relevance of struggles to overcome inequality and injustice.  In July 2012, students from the following countries participated in the Academy:  China, South Korea, Egypt, Israel, Turkey, Canada, Russia, UK, and USA.

            Prof. Lamas is the recipient of the Katz Award for Teaching Excellence in Urban Studies (2000) and the CGS Distinguished Teaching Award (2005). He received the B.A. (Humanities / Political Science) from Davidson College (Phi Beta Kappa), the M.A. (Economic Development / Africa) from the University of London's School of Oriental & African Studies, and the J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Law School.

Courses Every Fall Term:
URBS 452 -- Community Economic Development
URBS 480 -- Liberation and Ownership
NPLD 790 -- Accounting for Asset Development

Courses Every Spring Term:
URBS 405 / AFRC 480 / RELS 439 -- Religion, Social Justice, and Urban Development
DYNM 671 -- Ownership Matters

Occasional Courses:
URBS 220: The Democratic City
SWRK 601: History and Philosophy of Social Welfare
SWRK 611: Contemporary Social Policy
SWRK 736: Building Community Capacity
SWRK 770: Social Welfare and the Law

            To learn about Prof. Lamas' teaching methods and his students' work in the Community Economic Development course (Fall 2009), see JoAnn Greco, "Teaching Inside the Box," in THE PENNSYLVANIA GAZETTE (January/February 2010): .

            For a review of his use of technology in the classroom, see Cathy Von Elm, "Techno-gogy in Urban Studies and Social Policy & Practice," in IVY LEAVES (Spring 2010): .  

            For a case study [compilation of videos and related information] highlighting Prof. Lamas’ teaching philosophy and methods, see the Merlot Elixr Program of the California State University (CSU/FIPSE) (November 2010):                                                  .