Lydia Rainville ’12: Regional Visioning in Virginia
| August 11, 2011 | 12:00 am | student papers | Comments closed

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.

Gabriel Holbrow ’12 won awards for his GIS poster
| August 4, 2011 | 12:00 am | student papers | Comments closed

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.

Green Urban Design in Davis Sq
| July 28, 2011 | 12:00 am | student papers | Comments closed

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.

Students in Cities learn about the Great Migration
| July 21, 2011 | 12:00 am | student papers | Comments closed

“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: Business Diversity in Urban Centers
| July 14, 2011 | 12:00 am | student papers | Comments closed

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.

Jenny Molina ’13 is drawn to UEP’s core values
| July 11, 2011 | 12:00 am | first impressions | Comments closed

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.

Clara Feng: Ethnic Businesses in Somerville
| July 7, 2011 | 12:00 am | student papers | Comments closed

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.

Green Urban Design at 346 Somerville Ave
| June 30, 2011 | 12:00 am | student papers | Comments closed

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.

Amos Wright ’13 reflects on his path to UEP
| June 27, 2011 | 12:00 am | first impressions | Comments closed

The following was written by Amos Wright ’13 about his meandering path to UEP. Throughout the summer, we’re featuring posts by a few incoming students, explaining in their own words a little about what brings them to our program. The previous post was by Janet Lau. If you are an incoming student

I received a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and English from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. I discovered planning through the enchanting backdoor of urban and critical social theorists such as Edward Soja, Henri Lefebvre, Walter Benjamin, et al. The urban poems of Frank O’Hara were also inspirational.

In the sultry summer of 2007 I muttered some tearless valedictions to the city of my birth and drove a U-haul a thousand miles north and east. Boston revealed to me that urban centers don’t have to be asphalted acres of industrial blight gloomier than T.S. Eliot’s “The Wasteland.” During my brief employment at the Harvard Bookstore, I got my paws on an edition of Jane Jacobs’ The Death and Life of Great American Cities. That gospel of urbanism was soon joined by other provocative books, in which I read how the interstate highway system was used to further the cause of racial segregation, even after it was declared unconstitutional.

Jump-cut to 2011. I’ve finished a graduate degree in English (also at UAB) and can’t get a job at Barnes & Noble. Epiphany: I have to work for a living, and academia, at least among the humanities, is slowly going extinct. I was a dilettante, the eighth cardinal sin. I was getting older, and it was time to get serious.

Eventually, I resolved to apply to urban planning programs. I interned at the Regional Planning Commission of Greater Birmingham, a vast bureaucratic labyrinth of Kafkaesque dimensions, but I learned some concrete skill sets like GIS and Google Sketchup and collected field data for the city’s anemic bus system. Birmingham might be a regressive city stuck in 1963, but its urban form remains an asset. We have Vulcan, the world’s largest cast iron statue. Paris may have the Eiffel and New York the Statue of Liberty, but we’ve got Vulcan.

At present, I drink copious quantities of French pressed coffee and write on a short story collection and a novel. I also edit The White Whale Review, an electronic literary journal, and The Heaviest Corner, a blog devoted to urban issues in Birmingham. May this second graduate degree be my last one.

Joanna Hamilton ’13: Regional Planning in Northeast Ohio
| June 23, 2011 | 12:00 am | student papers | Comments closed

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.