Rhyme and Reason: class gets poetic about economics
| November 21, 2016 | 2:30 pm | UEP | Comments closed
UEP Chair Mary Davis put together an anthology of poems from last Spring's economics class.

UEP Chair Mary Davis put together an anthology of poems from last Spring’s economics class.

Poetry may not improve everyone’s ability to learn economics, but it made class more enjoyable for some, according to findings from a recent UEP course.

Mary Davis, chair of UEP, injected rhyme and meter into the required Economics for Planning and Policy Analysis class as part of an experiment on the effects of poetry versus expository writing for learning economics.

“When you generate an idea by yourself, you’re going to be more likely to remember it,” Davis said, citing psychological research at a recent presentation of her findings.

From a group of almost 40 students, 45 percent said poetry improved their depth of understanding in economics, while 34 percent said essays would have helped them better understand economics. However, 70 percent said they would choose poetry over essay, 22.5 percent said they would choose essay, and 7.5 percent said they were indifferent.

The findings also were inconclusive on whether poetry improved students’ performance during tests because one of two randomized groups always scored higher whether it did exercises in poetry or prose.

While this learning style, using poems to express economic theories, may not be effective for all types of students, Davis noted that it is a contrast to the typical “chalk and talk” style used by economics instructors.

The traditional teaching style produces “economists that act and behave the same way. It excludes people who don’t learn that way,” she said. “If, after the semester, you liquidate your brain it doesn’t serve (its purpose).”

The goal was to boost economic literacy. The tool was the written word. The data were inconclusive but the results were lyrical and, at the very least, an update from the trite economic metaphor of guns and butter.

The anthology of poems and results from last semester’s study will be published on a future blog post. Please check back.

2016 Economics for Policy and Planning Analysis class

2016 Economics for Policy and Planning Analysis class

Panel speaks on how planners can make black lives matter
| October 26, 2016 | 11:34 am | Tufts, UEP | Comments closed

Planning processes are not democratic, said Bob Terrell, executive director at the Fair Housing Center of Greater Boston.

“If you’re serious about real political empowerment and economic empowerment, why aren’t you hiring people from this community who have the skills and the background to do any and all research?” said Terrell. “I have yet to see a municipality that will turn over real decision-making power to its citizens and residents.”

To make black lives matter, Terrell said, planners need to look to the community rather than seeking outside consultants.

“There is no such thing as value-free social science,” Terrell said during a UEP colloquium about Making Black Lives Matter through Policy and Planning on October 19.

Policy work and activism are not mutually exclusive, said Melissa Colón, a doctoral student at the Tufts Child Studies and Human Development department, and former executive director of Massachusetts Education Initiative for Latino Students. She added that leaders need to disrupt education systems that continue to oppress some of its students. School is supposed to be an equalizer, she said.

Drawing on his own life, panelist Abrigal Forrester illustrated how the education system devalued him and his peers.

Forrester, who is now the director of Community Action at Madison Park Community Development Corporation, said he always performed well academically, but was never vetted for opportunities to attend technical schools.

“It really made me feel like, why am I doing all this when I’m not getting the recognition?” Forrester said. He added that many like him engaged in a “devaluing of self through the system.”

Forrester recalled his friend Walter, who frequently stole cars and was eventually killed by law enforcement. The next day, Walter was not at school and everyone knew why.

“There was no discussion about what we all knew about losing Walter. We just said, ‘Wow, Walter’s gone.’ Is anybody going to talk to us?” Forrester said. “We’re losing children every day and no one’s saying, ‘Let’s stop your academics for a minute and allow this process to heal. Do we really matter when you don’t give our children a chance to stop and allow them to grieve?”

Offering some advice, Colón asserted that students of urban planning and policy should not accept theory or facts as a given.

“I don’t believe in neutrality — you can either stand up for racial justice or you’re complicit to the oppression of others,” Colón said.

Tufts UEP students can access a video of the full colloquium session on Trunk, in the UEP students site, under Media Gallery.

Joint urban planning and public health program to foster holistic problem-solving
| September 19, 2016 | 5:16 pm | public health, Tufts, UEP | Comments closed
Dr. Richard Jackson, professor at the University of California Los Angeles Fielding School of Public Health, speaks with an attendee at Wednesday's symposium. Photo © VHB.

Dr. Richard Jackson, professor at the University of California Los Angeles Fielding School of Public Health, speaks with an attendee at Wednesday’s symposium. Photo © VHB.

When a child is overweight, a pediatrician’s first prescription is often environmental — don’t have soft drinks in the home, walk to school, eat healthier food at school, and other such changes, said Dr. Richard Jackson.

“But they can’t change how they get to school or what they serve at the cafeteria,” said Jackson, professor at the University of California Los Angeles Fielding School of Public Health. “Two months later, (the child) is taking blood pressure medicine.”

The story is made-up, Jackson said, but this scenario occurs all the time.

“We’ve rigged the environment against our children,” Jackson said.

Jackson was the keynote speaker at Wednesday’s symposium hosted by UEP at Tufts: The Economic Promise of Healthy Community Design. The symposium was planned and presented by the private consulting firm, VHB.

During his address, Jackson spoke about his work and studies that show the relationship between a person’s environment and his or her health.

“Where people lived mattered enormously to how they lived,” he said.

Doctors are quick to blame people’s lifestyles for their poor health, Jackson said, but lifestyles are heavily dependent on the design of the built environment.

Children who walk to school show better concentration, mood, and memory, Jackson said, citing a 2009 report by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Surveys in Canada show that, in the past decade or more, instances of obesity increased in neighborhoods that are not walkable and instances of diabetes have decreased in neighborhoods that are walkable.

But how can people follow the advice to “walk, walk, walk,” said Jackson, when they live in neighborhoods that aren’t walkable?

UEP has developed a new program with the Tufts Medical School to examine the issues raised by Dr. Jackson at the symposium.  UEP students can now receive graduate degrees in public health (MPH) and UEP (MA) simultaneously over three years, as opposed to the four years it would take to study them separately. The joint MPH and UEP program is a step toward fostering a mindset to look across the often disconnected disciplines. More information about the new dual degree program can be found at: http://as.tufts.edu/uep/programs/joint/publichealth.

“In the 20th Century, we solve problems one at a time,” Jackson said. “(But) a good solution solves multiple problems.”

 

UEP alum recognized for land stewardship practices
| September 7, 2016 | 5:46 pm | Uncategorized | Comments closed
Source: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, file:///C:/Users/User/Downloads/a-bl993e.pdf.

Source: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, file:///C:/Users/User/Downloads/a-bl993e.pdf.

Caitlin Hachmyer, a 2013 graduate of UEP, was recently highlighted by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations for her work at Red H Farm. The farm at Sebastopol, California — owned and operated by Caitlin — integrates traditional and modern farming practices rooted in agroecological values. Caitlin, who grew up in a family that grew and raised a lot of its own food, helped foster Caitlin’s current practices of stewarding the land and providing for the community.

The full story about Caitlin’s work can be found at: http://www.fao.org/family-farming/detail/en/c/429752/

New Hybrid UEP Post-Masters Certificate Program in Urban Justice and Sustainability
| June 22, 2016 | 3:13 pm | UEP | Comments closed

09/03/2015 - Medford/Somerville, Mass. - The incoming cohort of students for the Department of Urban and Environmental Planning works through a listening exercise during UEP Orientation on Sept. 3, 2015. (Kelvin Ma/Tufts University)

UEP is proud to announce a new post-masters Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies (C.A.G.S.) in Urban Justice and Sustainability. The program will be a low-residence, hybrid format for cohorts of mid-career professionals who already possess a Master’s, law, or other graduate degree, and have more than 7 years of work experience. It is an effort to experiment in the sphere of online higher education, directed at busy working professionals seeking to enhance their professional practice, impact on society, and career advancement.

The five credit C.A.G.S. will be spread out over the course of one year. It will begin and conclude with with an on-campus intensive experience in the summer before and after the two semesters of coursework. The on-campus summer experiences will count as 0.5 credits of coursework. Students will then enroll in two online classes per semester during the academic year, directed studies, and an independent applied special project. The concluding summer session will focus on results of students’ independent projects. Students will be matched with a UEP faculty member who will provide both academic advising and supervise the student’s work in two directed studies. The certificate is rooted intellectually in three inter-related  policy/planning themes: social justice, sustainability, and community engagement.

A survey conducted by UEP professor Justin Hollander has shown significant interest among Massachusetts urban and regional planners. Recruitment for the first class will begin later in 2016. We look forward to welcoming a new cohort of professionals dedicated to urban justice and sustainability into the UEP family!

UEP Students Complete 9 Field Projects in Spring 2016
| June 21, 2016 | 3:01 pm | Events, UEP | Comments closed

Each spring, UEP’s first year MA students work on teams for the entire semester on projects with real-world partners through the Field Projects course. This year, nine projects were completed with a diverse array of community, nonprofit, and governmental organizations.

"The Case for Community Land Trusts" for the Greater Boston CLT Network

“The Case for Community Land Trusts” for the Greater Boston CLT Network

UEP teams addressed community and social issues, such as building democratic dialogue and capacity in an increasingly diverse Medford, promoting community land trusts in Boston as a strategy to prevent gentrification, and improving state programs for transition-age youth who are timing out of the foster-care system.

"Greening Somerville" for Groundwork Somerville

“Greening Somerville” for Groundwork Somerville

Several projects addressed critical environmental issues, such as exploring community-shared solar for low and moderate income communities in Massachusetts, developing a map to assess food access in Massachusetts, and identifying opportunities to build more parks and open space in Somerville.

"Transition Age Youth in Massachusetts" for client LUK, Inc.

“Transition Age Youth in Massachusetts” for client LUK, Inc.

Projects also took on planning and design for an ocean-side park in Swampscott, a new bicycle and pedestrian path connecting Roslindale to Forest Hills in Boston, and the creation of a cultural district in Chelsea. All Field Projects final reports can be accessed here.

 

 

 

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New Report by UEP’s Lorlene Hoyt on Education and Entrepreneurship in Chile
| June 16, 2016 | 2:00 pm | Uncategorized | Comments closed

At el Centro de Emprendizaje(CEM) in Southern Chile, relationships are an important part of the educational experience.

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A newly published case study — co-authored by UEP Professor Lorlene Hoyt — explores the approach of the CEM at Valdivia’s Universidad Austral de Chile to integrate higher education with entrepreneurship and collaborative learning. The report, Emprendizaje: Higher Education for Entrepreneurship, Learning, and Collective Intelligence in Southern Chile seeks to flesh out the practical applications of “Emprendizaje,” a concept (emprender + aprendizaje) that the CEM faculty and staff try to live out daily.

This report began with Hoyt’s UEP graduate course, Community Development Planning and Policy, which examined alternative community development approaches that the Global North can draw from the Global South. For the course, students examined case studies from Mondragon, Spain to Lawrence, Massachusetts and conducted interviews with students, faculty, and staff at the CEM. Work on the report continued after the course through Tufts’ Talloires Network, the MIT Community Innovators Lab and the CEM.

The CEM draws from methodologies and theories such as Manfred Max-Neef’s Human Scale Development, which emphasizes greater self-reliance through satisfying human needs, and provides an alternative to neoliberal development approaches focusing on indicators such as Gross Domestic Product.

The CEM’s alternative pedagogical approaches can provide innovative solutions to the world’s crises and therefore worth delving into.

Read the Case Study Here!

UEP Student Jessica Norriss Reflects on WSSS in Palestine
| May 17, 2016 | 10:37 am | WSSS | Comments closed

As a member of the Water Systems, Science, and Society program, students are required to work alongside a client, local or international, for the duration of a semester. In the fall of 2015, various projects were being proposed, one of which was the opportunity to work with the Boston based non-profit 1for3 in partnership with the Palestinian based community center, the Lajee Center. This not only included a close working relationship with our clients, but the chance to travel and implement our work in Palestine!

Without much of an attachment to Boston, I thought this would be a powerful experience to expand my international repertoire. Up until this point, my only connection with this region was the reoccurring insight that I should go on birthright, but growing up in Texas I was fairly isolated from my Jewish side of the family. The border conflicts between Israel and Palestine were quite muted in respect to the more relevant and pressing disputes with our own southern neighbors. The idea of traveling to Israel seemed more like a distant fantasy, a connection to an abstract and vague ancestry that I for some reason felt I inherently needed to get to know.

The primary goal was to aid in the human right to the access of clean water; despite my lack of knowledge to the nuances of this phrase in the Israeli-Palestinian context, I was eager to have an opportunity to work in this region with a direct purpose. Throughout the first few weeks of getting familiar with this project, our objectives and plan of action were still relatively vague. Although, 1for3 and WSSS students had worked together in the past (2012, 2013, and 2014) assessing the water quality challenges in the Aida Refugee camp of Bethlehem, this year we were looking to expand beyond the previous legacy. We would travel to Palestine to engage with a neighboring refugee camp, al Azza, and evaluate their unique set of water quality issues. Through household surveys and water sample collections, we were to analyze the degree of water health and security to the camp, and to provide our client’s with a strategy for expanding their water quality treatment and conservation programs.

While there, we successfully completed over thirty surveys with a wide range of households in the camp, met with several local stakeholders from the Palestinian Water Authority to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), and held a community meeting to share our findings from our weeks work. One of the most memorable parts of the experience is the mutually beneficial relationship we were able to establish with our translators, as they shared some of their personal histories and expertise, and we shared our knowledge of water quality sampling.

Now, barely one month after our week spent there, I am still processing our experiences. Despite many conversations and readings about the rich and complex history of Israeli-Palestinian relationships, this trip illuminated the complexity of the conflict that weigh heavy in the region. Fortunately, in al Azza we did not encounter any significant levels of harmful bacteria in the tap water of the homes that we tested, but rather residents communicated they were plagued with significant water insecurity and shortages throughout the dry season.

This trip has taught me the proper scientific techniques for testing the levels of residual chlorine and quality of water in relation to total coliform and fecal bacteria, as well as better prepared me for working directly with a client in a multi-cultural professional context to strategically expand their long-term goals.

But ultimately, this trip has ignited a passion for further exploring the nexus of diplomacy, conflict mediation, and powerful role that water rights hold in this intricate dance. We now have the technologies and capacity to merge rigorous scientific analysis of water quality and allocation systems with political advocacy and leadership in innovative ways; I am excited for a future which addresses this unique set of challenges communities globally are facing.

UEP/Friedman Student Tessa Salzman Reflects on Geography 2050 Conference
| May 17, 2016 | 10:29 am | Events | Comments closed

I attended the Geography 2050 Conference of the American Geographical Society on Thursday and Friday November 19th and 20th in New York City as an attendee ready to learn and be exposed to more new material than I initially expected. Through the lens of geography I expanded my understanding of how planning extends into the international scope. Some of the most compelling sessions for me were related to immigration and demographic trends. Ms. Nisha Agarwall, the commissioner of NYC Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs described their work to improve the quality of life and protection of all immigrants. Their innovative programs work to de-stigmatize certain support mechanisms, such as free municipal ID cards, by making it appeal to all residents whether or not they’re foreign-born. Another concept that was new to me and presented by Ms. Claudia Juech of the Rockefeller Foundation was work to improve poverty and economic marginalization through remote work and online education. They proposed these technologies would create a virtual geography by 2050 internationally and nationally, and the zip code may begin to be less implicative in quality of life. The conference provided a globally-based perspective on planning, in contrast to the classes I have been in that are very much focused locally in community organizing and city-level politics. Overall, it lifted planning up as an even broader field than I had imagined before.

UEP Student Erin Coutts at Baltimore’s Eastern Regional Climate Preparedness Conference
| May 17, 2016 | 10:23 am | Events | Comments closed

Preparing for Climate Change on the East Coast

John Bolduc, City of Cambridge Environmental Planner, Rhett Lamb, City of Keene Planning Director, Erin Coutts, UEP M.A. Student

John Bolduc, City of Cambridge Environmental Planner, Rhett Lamb, City of Keene Planning Director, Erin Coutts, UEP M.A. Student

Over three hundred planning professionals, scientists, business owners, and non-profit representatives gathered in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor April 4-6, 2016, for the Local Solutions: Eastern Regional Climate Preparedness Conference. The conference, organized by Antioch University’s Center for Climate Preparedness & Community Resilience in partnership with the EPA, was designed to build capacity for local decision makers.

Thanks to a generous travel grant from UEP, current student Erin Coutts attended keynote speeches from the Mayor of Baltimore and the Acting Deputy Administrator of the EPA, a workshop on monitoring adaptation progress, and a variety of sessions. She reports that one of the most valuable sessions was “Incorporating Adaptation into Day-to-Day Planning,” which featured a talk by UEP alumnus Rhett Lamb. The session addressed strategies for funding climate adaptation efforts, and how best to cover budget gaps. The information gathered from the conference will contribute directly to her UEP thesis.

Also in attendance was UEP alumnus John Bolduc, Environmental Planner for the City of Cambridge.