UEP second-year students Tida Infahsaeng, Ian Jakus, Denise Chin, and Valerie Oorthuys have won the 2014 American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) Student Project Award for Application of the Planning Process. Their project, titled “Urban Farming in Boston: A Survey of Opportunities” and advised by Penn Loh, was part of the UEP Field Projects course in Spring 2013. It also won the American Planning Association (APA) Massachusetts Chapter Student Project Award in 2013. The AICP Award will be presented at the Annual Meeting and Leadership Honors Ceremony at the 2014 APA National Planning Conference in Atlanta in April.
Last November, Rebecca Schofield, a second year UEP student, was named the winner of the Welcoming Communities Student Ideas competition, sponsored by the Expanding Opportunities Committee (EOC) of the Commonwealth Housing Task Force (CHTF). The competition was designed to generate ideas from students about how to make communities in Massachusetts more welcoming to people of color, people of low-income, and people with disabilities. Her research proposal is copied below:
This project will build on my previous research on fair housing issues and tenants’ rights with the City of Somerville’s Fair Housing Commission (2012-2013) and research on models for preserving affordable housing and empowering residents for the Coalition for Occupied Homes in Foreclosure (COHIF) (summer-fall 2013). Working with these partners to remove barriers and explore opportunities for more inclusive communities in Somerville and Dorchester has been an important step in the development of my research idea for this competition.
COHIF is currently working with community and nonprofit partners and a developer to acquire and rehabilitate owner-occupied properties that have been foreclosed in the Greater Four Corners neighborhood. The majority of residents whose homes have been foreclosed are low-income and/or people of color; we have been researching housing models that will better enable these populations to stay in their neighborhood and avoid foreclosure.
When residents are displaced (due to the expiration of affordability restrictions, housing redevelopment, and high market costs), where can they go? If we’re aiming to empower residents and preserve the affordability and diversity of Boston’s neighborhoods, it is important to address both barriers to staying-in-place and barriers to movement. The COHIF project addresses housing inequities at the site of displacement, but we must also consider housing policy options that 1) help displaced residents find quality housing and community resources and 2) support residents’ freedom of movement and neighborhood choice.
I believe that we need a clear framework for identifying the needs, interests, and capabilities of people of color, people of low-income, and people with disabilities. This framework will allow us to better evaluate housing models and policies that address these needs, interests, and capabilities. The concept of a “bundle of interests” (Davis 1996) is a useful place to start: this bundle includes our rights to use and exchange property and our obligations and resources related to property ownership and management. It also includes our core interests in property, which is linked to broader goals we have for our housing and our communities (e.g. protecting our family’s well-being, identifying with a city, town, or neighborhood, participating in civil society, etc.). The bundle of interests (rights, obligations, resources, and core interests) that a given household has is quite different than the bundle of interests a private developer has. Community groups, community development corporations (CDCs), community development financial institutions (CDFIs), and policy makers are additional examples of the actors who shape housing options and accessibility in our cities and towns. Each of these groups has a different bundle of interests.
It is hard to identify reasons that communities throughout Massachusetts put up barriers for certain populations, but it is clear that these communities only meet a narrow bundle of interests. The purpose of this framework is to better identify the differences and similarities in each actor’s bundle, then consider housing options that will best suit the needs, interests, and capabilities of people of low-income, people of color, and/or people with disabilities.
Evaluating Housing Models
In order to advocate for people of low-income, people of color, and/or people with disabilities in Massachusetts’ communities, we must develop and implement strategies for effective resident control of housing. There is a broad range of options for community- or resident-based property ownership, management, and control, but each housing development must select the model that best suits the needs, interests, and capabilities of its residents.
Some examples of models for owning and/or financing housing that support more inclusive communities include: community land trusts (CLTs), mutual housing associations, cooperatives and limited equity cooperatives (LECs), individual development accounts (IDAs). Municipal support for resident control and community-based housing is also important: New York City and Washington, D.C. provide strong examples of legislative protection for tenants and low-income residents. Looking at case studies and interviewing experts will help determine which housing models will best protect a given population in a given community.
Updated Q: You mention Cities below, but what are requirements for the other core courses?
- Everyone must take Foundations in their first semester, as well as Quant. You have to take Econ in your first spring semester. Those are the only requirements. You can get a waiver for either Quant or Econ if you majored in the subject or if you have significant work experience using those methods. Those are the only acceptable criteria for a waiver. If you want to try to waive Quant or Econ, contact Mary Davis or the folks at the office.
Q: How many classes should I take, and when?
- A common courseload schedule for UEP is 4-4-3-1. For non-native English speakers and folks working a lot, three courses per semester might be more comfortable than four. UEP allows you to count your thesis as one credit instead of two, if you want to squeeze in another class for credit. But most faculty are also happy to have an enthusiastic auditor in their course, if you want to take a class but not for credit.
Q: When should I take Cities in Space, Place, and Time?
- Cities is the only core course whose timing we get to decide. It’s offered in the fall, and you can take it during your first year or your second year. Last year, some people felt like they benefited from taking Foundations and Cities at the same time, that the two courses complimented each other. Foundations is more on the theoretical side of planning and policy (at least it was last year) and Cities is more on the historical side. Other people felt like that combination didn’t matter, or even that they’d prefer not to pair them. I liked having them at the same time, but it’s really up to you based on what other courses you want to take. Cities is also a good place to meet people who aren’t in your class year, because it’s about half and half usually.
Update: Barbara raises another factor: if you see an elective you really want to take this fall, then she recommends doing the elective in place of Cities. But if you don’t see something else you really want to take, then go ahead and take Cities. That leaves you free the fall of your 2nd year for an elective.
Q: How many hours do UEPers normally study?
- I always have trouble estimating this sort of thing, partly because it varies greatly depending on your personal learning style. Some people are good at skimming or reading only the important bits, and then it will take less time. Some people need to read every word closely, and for those people it will take more time. Also, it depends greatly on what classes you take. Some classes put more emphasis on the readings, and some put less. A figure the faculty sometimes cite is 10 hours per week per class, but that seems like a little high to both me and Ann U. Perhaps a good metric is this: for most people, working more than 15-20 hours per week and doing all their classwork is too much.
Q: How many people pursue dual degrees or other joint concentrations in each year?
- Ann says about 8-10 students per year are enrolled in a joint or dual degree program. Typically about 2-3 with Child Development, maybe 1 in Economics, 2-4 in AFE with Friedman, 1-2 in Fletcher. There used to not be many Fletcher dual degrees, but there used to be 1-2 with Engineering. However, it’s all up to you. If everyone in the incoming class wanted to do a dual degree…that would be a lot. But the number could be a lot higher or lower; it’s up to you.
Q: What extracurricular activities do UEP students get involved in?
- UEP has the Student Policy and Planning Association (SPPA), which organizes weekly socials (Thursty Thursdays) and other events for UEP students. The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS) puts on a lot of events for grad students, as does the Graduate Student Council (GSC). Also, the Tufts Institute for the Environment (TIE) and the Office of Sustainability (OoS) host events that UEP students attend, as do Fletcher School (international relations) and Tisch College (volunteerism and citizenship). You’ll get emails for most of these events. People generally don’t get involved in clubs the way you do during undergrad, but there are lots of other fun things that happen. Last year, several UEPers were involved in HONK!fest, a festival of activist street bands that happens around Davis Square around the end of September. Other people get involved in organizations like Bikes Not Bombs in Jamaica Plain (JP). Some people work, which takes up a chunk of time. A lot of social activity, though, happens informally within UEP.
Q: Do you walk around campus or bike?
- The campus is small enough and hilly enough that to get around campus, most people walk. However, a lot of students do bike to campus, and some hardcore people even bike to class in the winter!
Q: Where do people study around campus?
In rough order of popularity:
- Tower Cafe (in Tisch Library, snacks & coffee)
- GIS Lab
- Student Center (mediocre but plentiful food)
- Tisch Library
- White House
- Brown House
- Grad Student Lounge (snacks and printing and no undergrads)
Q: Where is there good food near campus?
- Boloco, just north of campus
- Nick’s Pizza, just north of campus
- Yoshi’s, in Powderhouse Square
- Tu y Yo, in Powderhouse Square
- Sound Bites, in Ball Square
- Istanbulu’u, in Teele Square
- PJ Ryan’s, in Teele Square
- Boston Burger Company, in Davis Square
- Dave’s Fresh Pasta, in Davis Square
- Anna’s Taqueria, in Davis Square
- Blue Shirt Cafe, in Davis Square
- Mike’s, in Davis Square
- Redbones, in Davis Square
Q: Where are the good coffeeshops?
- Danish Pastry House, just north of campus
- Diesel Cafe in Davis Square
- True Grounds in Ball Square
- Cafe Rustica, near Porter Square
- Simon’s Coffee House, near Porter Square (one of Julian’s favorites)
Q: What’s the deal with the internship?
- Most people do their internship in the summer after the first year, but you don’t have to – you can do it during the semester as well. A lot of people count their job as their UEP internship if it’s applicable. And applicability is flexible as well: one of last year’s second-years got a summer job working at big music festivals working to make them greener, and it was fine. That topic then became his thesis. It’s never too early to start looking for good internships, but for our year the period between mid-March and mid-April was the most comfortable window in which to find one for the summer. Many people were still scrambling for internships after that, though.
Q: Where do I go for student services stuff?
- Financial Aid: Dowling Hall
- Graduate Student Office: Ballou Hall
- Most other things: UEP (Brown House)
Q: How do I get a refund on excess financial aid?
- You would need to request a refund, and the directions are on the Tufts financial aid website.
Q: Where is there a microwave that I can use to heat my (home-made, organic, totally delicious) lunch/dinner?
- Brown House, in the kitchen. Great if you want to hang out with other lunching UEPers or you want to wash your dishes.
- Mayer Student Center third floor. Go up the stairs where the banners, turn up the stairs to the right then turn left at the top of the flight.
- Tisch College basement. Enter the side door of Lincoln-Filene to the right just before the main entrance to Tisch College. Go down the stairs, then turn left. The microwave is on the left. Theoretically, this one is only for Tisch College staff, I assume. But everyone has always been friendly and welcoming down there.
Beyond the introductory GIS class, there are several other classes available to UEP students in different areas of spatial analysis. Remote Sensing is popular among those interested in natural sciences, while some of the offerings from Fletcher School bring students to the forefront of current events. A list of all Tufts GIS classes can be found here.
Two posters from last spring demonstrate some of the up-to-the-minute possibilities of crisis mapping. First, undergrad Ray Kameda mapped actual tsunami damage in Miyagi Prefecture in Japan. That crisis was unfolding during the semester, and Ray took live data to evaluate actual damage against projected damage.
The second poster, created by a Fletcher School student, examined routes of travel for protesters in Cairo on their way to Tahrir Square during the revolution there. As those protests were unfolding in the midst of the semester, the poster uses up-to-the-minute data in its least-cost path analysis.
In another paper from Justin Hollander’s Regional Planning class, Lydia Rainville ’12 makes recommendations for regional planning to two regional organizations in the Virginia Beach & Newport News metropolitan area in southeast Virginia.
In addition to her full-time studies and part-time employment at the Department of Transportation’s Volpe Center in Cambridge, Lydia helps run the Student Policy and Planning Association (SPPA) at UEP. SPPA is the department’s student organization, which hosts weekly socials, liaises with faculty and professional groups, and organizes welcome activities for admitted and first-year students. To learn more about SPPA (or regional visioning in southeast Virginia), email lydia [dot] rainville [at] tufts [dot] edu.
Last fall, Gabriel Holbrow ’12 took Introduction to GIS (Geographic Information Systems) taught by Barbara Parmenter. The final assignment for that class is to make a poster using the mapping and spatial analysis skills you’ve learned. Gabe was interested in walkability and metrics for measuring it. He took the wealth of data provided in the District of Columbia, and made a beautiful poster on the topic. Since that time, the poster has won multiple awards.
UEP is blessed with fantastic GIS resources. Barbara Parmenter spends half her time as a UEP core faculty member, and the other half providing GIS support for the whole Tufts community. She puts extensive energy into her teaching, and her classes are widely enjoyed. GIS classes are taught in the state-of-the-art Spatial Analysis Lab, tucked behind the circulation desk area in Tisch Library, to the left of the main stairs. Somewhere between the formality of Tisch’s Tower Cafe and the rest of the library, the lab is primarily used and overseen by UEP students, though students from other programs also work there.
Introduction to GIS is always a popular course for UEP students, but it is offered every semester. Barbara often encourages UEP students to wait until their second year to take it, at which point they are guaranteed a spot. It is quite difficult to get into the class during one’s first semester, due to first-years’ late registration date. But some do take the class in the fall, like Gabe Holbrow, and many first-year UEPers take it in the spring of their first year.
In Christine Cousineau’s Green Urban Design class, the final project involved working with a group on a real-life design project. Several weeks ago we featured a project on a site in Union Square. Another group worked on the site where The Burren is located in Davis Square. The site is intended for redevelopment by the owners, so this project is relevant and timely. Such projects are common at UEP, with even the smallest assignments often geared toward a real-life audience. While the Field Projects core course is entirely based around this concept, applicability pervades most other classes as well.
“Cities in Space, Place, and Time” is one of the core classes in UEP. While students can take this class during the fall of either year, many first-year students taking the course in 2010 found it to be a fantastic complement to the Foundations course required of all students during the first semester. In Cities, you learn a lot about the history of planning and policy that influences the current environment. One assignment that is especially educational is the book review assignment, where you work with a small group to review a significant book in the field. My group reviewed The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs, a seminal work in the planning field. Rachel Gordon ’12, Sophia Burks ’12, and Melissa Woods ’12 read and reviewed Isabel Wilkerson’s The Warmth of Other Suns, which explores the Great Migration. The Great Migration is the half-century of mass movement of black Americans from the South to the cities of the North and West. This is just one of the fascinating topics of social history that Cities will teach you.
Jay Monty ’11 came into UEP with an educational and work background as an engineer. He had worked on highways, and transportation remained a strong interest throughout his time at Tufts. While at UEP, he also worked as the TA for two of the core classes (Cities and Field Projects), which introduced him to many members of the class below his.
This spring, Jay took the new Qualitative Skills class taught by Justin Hollander. For his final paper, he examined what factors shape the mix of businesses in the modern “urban village”, and whether or not it is possible to expect a diversity of goods and services found in traditional urban settings. His conclusions are fascinating for those interested in economic development and the vitality of new urban neighborhoods.
This post comes to you from Jenny Molina, an incoming UEP student. You can see other perspectives of incoming students by clicking on “First Impressions” in the “Categories” menu.
Over the last 10 years or so, my entire family has reminded me about how my undergrad decision process was one of the most painful processes of their lives! Looking back, it’s possibly, somewhat, mildly accurate…. I was unsure about lots of things in early adulthood, including where and what I would be studying, and it became just that – a process.
On the flipside, choosing a graduate school was an exciting time and actually gave me butterflies! I realized that I needed a program that would challenge and prepare me for the public service sector. I chose UEP over other nationally recognized programs because I feel personally connected to the program’s core principles and values, as well as the program’s ability to challenge and empower students to focus on their passions and professional ambitions. During my visit, I gravitated towards the program’s interdisciplinary focus and the visible partnership of talented faculty and students who support the approach in developing both practitioners and researchers.
My decision to pursue a degree at UEP stems from a series of distinct yet interrelated personal experiences. My extensive travels after my undergraduate studies led me to better understand personally meaningful values while challenging my beliefs regarding the function of cities around the world. I was fortunate enough to play soccer for the Mexican National Team – playing teams all over the world and participating in the 2004 Athens Olympic Games.
Upon my return to the United States I explored my interest in landscape architecture and saw the impact large urban projects have on both land use and overall aesthetics at the city and neighborhood level. My passion for social justice soon drove me to investigate my interests in community health at multiple organizations that examine urban health through the lenses of human rights and social justice. For the past 4 years my community work has involved managing a heath center wellness program that focuses on nutrition education, physical activity, and food access. With this job I have had the opportunity to work directly with city agencies, nonprofit organizations, civic leaders, and city residents to focus community voice and action.
In the coming months I will be farming full time in Metro-Boston, as well as volunteering with various nonprofits in the city of Boston. This fall I am particularly excited to learn from my fellow classmates and engage in thoughtful and challenging dialogues. Though I will miss working in the communities closest to my heart, I am excited and committed to take on a new chapter in my academic career at Tufts University.