In August 2009 Dr Rafael Pizarro was a guest speaker at the United States Studies Centre Research Seminar Series. A Colombia national who obtained his Masters and PhD in America, Pizarro has become a leader in the fast-emerging field of sustainable urban planning and development. Pizarro was appointed to the Faculty of Architecture, Design and Planning at the University of Sydney in 2005. During his presentation Pizarro spoke about the results of a three-year research project which found that the American-style suburban model of spread-out, low-rise, free-standing houses is rapidly spreading through Colombia and the rest of Latin America. "I hypothesise that the popularity of American-type suburbs in Latin America after WWII is related to the image of the American city in comics, magazines, film and TV. To this end, I wrote my Doctoral Dissertation on the influence of these images in the development of American-type suburbs in the Caribbean region of Colombia."

The Dissertation, retitled "Suburbanising the Mind: Hollywood and the Globalisation of American Suburbia" is now a book-in-progress.