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.
Clara Feng is a certificate student in the certificate program in Program Evaluation that UEP participates in along with the Department of Child Development, the School of Nutrition, and the School of Medicine For more information about program evaluation, you can talk to UEP faculty member Fran Jacobs.
In this paper for Justin Hollander’s Qualitative Skills class this spring, Clara studied a Brazilian grocery store in Union Square in Somerville. She was interested in the role of such businesses in multi-ethnic community of Somerville, including who their customers were, how customers perceived the store, and what sorts of goods are provided. Her paper was also part of Project PERIS, a community-university partnership in which UEP participates.
For those who are interested in the more design-oriented areas of urban planning, UEP offers two courses taught by Christine Cousineau, who also works in Harvard’s campus planning office. At the end of her classes, students complete a group project working on the design of a particular site in the Greater Boston area. One project this spring proposed a mixed-use development for a site in Somerville’s Union Square, at 346 Somerville Ave. The team, which included Nick Welch ’13 and several other Tufts students, studied the five parcels on the site and produced a report whose recommendations integrate affordable housing, a mix of commercial and residential uses, and green design principles.
Joanna Hamilton ’13 is a dual-degree student with the Friedman School of Nutrition. Dual-degree students (no matter the other program) usually complete their time at Tufts in three years. For two degrees, that’s pretty good! This spring, Joanna took Justin Hollander’s Regional Planning class, which got rave reviews from most everyone who took it. Much of UEP’s focus on planning is on the urban and the local, so Justin’s class looks at the broader factors going into planning across a region. For the class final, everyone wrote a policy memo making recommendations for a real-life agency. Joanna chose the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA), which is the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for the Cleveland area. She evaluated their regional planning efforts, and made recommendations for more strategic policy in that area.
Dan Nally ’11 and Dave Quinn ’12 did exhaustive work researching this final report for Mark Chase’s Transportation Planning class. The report presents a methodology for analyzing and prioritizing Somerville’s bicycling infrastructure needs over the next several years. It is intended to provide general recommendations for a phased approach to making physical improvements to the City of Somerville’s bicycle network based on priority zones, traffic patterns, and road dimensions. It also proposes methods to increase bicycle ridership through social marketing, education, and theft prevention strategies.