Author: jsacch01
UEP Colloquium: Reflections on Engaged Universities
| April 30, 2015 | 1:56 pm | Anchor Institutions, Colloquium | Comments closed

In the final installment of UEP’s Spring Colloquium Series on April 1, Lorlene Hoyt, Amy Newcomb Rowe, and Brianda Hernandez – Director of Programs and Research, Program Manager, and Graduate Assistant at the Tailloires Network, respectively – presented “Stories of Leadership from Engaged Universities Around the World.”  Hoyt opened the presentation by encouraging the audience to conceive of education as a political act, which can either propagate conformity or prepare students  to “participate in the transformation of their world.”

In supporting the latter ideal, the idea of an “Engaged University” stands in stark contrast to the popularized depiction of Academia as a remote and aloof province. Engaged Universities breach the walls of the insular Ivory Tower, instead focusing resources to address challenges of life, such as poverty, illiteracy, disease, and natural disaster. Globally, students from disadvantaged backgrounds are barred access to higher education by financial, social, and political barriers. In order to counter the inegalitarian trend, in 2005 Tufts University sponsored the formation of the Tailloires Network, a network of university representatives, community partners, and funders who believe in, and actively tether, the idea of the engaged university to the ground in different countries around the world. At its inception, the Tailloires Network’s members included 29 university heads from 23 countries; today, the network extends across 75 countries, with more than 340 university heads counted as members.

In order to allow audience members to more closely examine individual instances of Engaged Universities in practice, they split into three groups, each focusing on a story emerging from a TN partner institution located in the Global South: American University of Cairo (Egypt), Tecnológico de Monterrey (Mexico), and International Medical University (Malaysia). Despite the divergent social, cultural, and political contexts, each of the three stories presented described the risk and unpredictability inherent in working to break down entrenched inequalities; however, the stories also  demonstrated the rewards of these labors, such as self awareness, courage, and resilience. As stages of struggle for the advancement of public life, coupled with the vital resources which they contain, Universities have a unique and essential role to play in moving the larger society towards alignment with the values of justice and inequality. However, as the colloquium session demonstrated, such movement depends upon purposeful leadership and concerted collective action. The Talloires Network and its dedicated staff continue to build the capacity necessary to achieve the vision enshrined in the idea of the Engaged University.

UEP Wins National Planning Award — Again!
| March 5, 2014 | 12:17 am | Uncategorized | Comments closed

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.

Rebecca Schofield’s Competition Winning Proposal
| February 24, 2014 | 1:27 am | student papers | Comments closed

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.

Research Proposal

Framework Development

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.