Tagged: social justice
Uber drivers beware! How pay structure can be hazardous to your health
| March 15, 2017 | 7:33 am | Tufts, UEP | Comments closed

Photo by Tan Qiuyi
A garment worker sews at Ho Guom Garment factory in northern Vietnam.

Many an Uber driver may say she or he enjoys the flexibility and the freedom of not having to punch in hours.

They can work around their own schedules and make money whenever they like.

But could jobs that pay per-item or per-service be worse for workers’ emotional and physical wellbeing?

UEP Associate Professor and Chair Mary Davis recently received a $110,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to investigate this very question — do U.S. workers paid based on level of service provided experience different health outcomes than salaried or hourly workers?

This grant comes on the heels of research Davis conducted at Vietnamese garment factories between 2010 and 2014. The study, which was recently published in the Annals of Global Health, found that garment workers paid per piece reported worse physical and emotional health than those paid hourly.

Wage incentives bore the most consistently significant evidence in all demographic and factory-level variables Davis used in her regression model, which included performance on occupational safety and health compliance measures.

Credit: Tufts Institute of the Environment
UEP Associate Professor Mary Davis

“Interestingly, the driving force behind the piece rate is not a full piece rate system; rather, it is those that pay some combination of by the piece and hourly. It is possible that increased wage uncertainty related to partial pay systems is driving this relationship, although the specific mechanism behind such an effect is unclear,” Davis wrote in her study. “One possible explanation is that a partial piece rate system sets the stage for other health-compromising conditions in these factories, such as worker abuse.”

One of those conditions includes sexual harassment, Davis wrote, which has been linked to per-piece pay structures. Researchers have posited this system could provide leverage to supervisors to extract sexual favors from workers.

While this may not necessarily translate to all per-item and per-service paid work, the overall theory is simpler.

“The connection between piece rate and worker health makes intuitive sense, as financial incentives that speed the pace of work may also result in less worker investment in safety precautions, particularly those that slow the pace of work. Research suggests that the piece rate leads workers to shirk on health-promoting activities such as machine safety maintenance, work breaks, and medical visits that would otherwise reduce job injury and accident risks,” Davis wrote.

Studies indicate that while per-piece pay may boost worker performance, poor perceived and actual health outcomes could balance those gains and actually reduce profits for businesses employing these workers, Davis wrote.

With the DOL grant, Davis will conduct similar research in the context of U.S. paid-per-service workers from Uber drivers to freelance performers.

Davis’ published article on Vietnamese garment workers can be found here: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2214999616307238.

BARROS: As social safety nets erode, local entities need to step up
| March 11, 2017 | 3:54 pm | Colloquium, Events, M.P.P., Tufts, UEP | 2 Comments

Photo by Tom Nash
A panel, assembled by UEP student John Barros, chief of Boston’s Economic Development, discussed financial stabilization issues for area families in the first of a policy seminar series.

The federal government is failing the poor, said John Barros, and this is a time to rethink what is happening on the local level.

“We need to take a different role locally,” said Barros, chief of Economic Development in Boston. “Something is happening that allows us to rethink this country, reshape capitalism.”

Barros, a Master of Public Policy student at UEP, kicked off the first in a series of policy seminars at Tufts University with a panel on Financial Stabilization for Boston Families.

In Boston, 46 percent of households don’t have enough savings to remain above the poverty line for three months if they suffer a major disruption, Barros said. For African Americans, that number is 69 percent, and for Latina/o families 75 percent.

Boston is no different when it comes to the increasing inequality in America, Barros said, but the social safety nets for the poor are eroding. He added that the Trump administration has reignited conversations about the deserving and undeserving poor.

“What’s coming out of Washington D.C. is scary,” Barros said.

Credit: Boston Magazine
John Barros

To further exacerbate the inequalities, said panelist Margaret Miley, strategic advisor at The Midas Collaborative, there is inequality in expenses for the poor.

“Poor people pay so much more for everything,” Miley said, noting that 25 percent of Massachusetts adults with credit reports have debt in collections and have few consumer protections.

The panelists — which also included Constance Martin, deputy director at the Office of Financial Empowerment in Boston; Carlos Moreno, coordinator of the Mobility Mentoring Center at EMPath — discussed some of the local initiatives to mitigate inequality in the area, such as financial empowerment centers, LISC programs for entrepreneurs unable to get loans, the Midas Collaborative Matched Savings program, and Boston Saves.

Boston Saves was launched in January and the program supplied 250 kindergarteners with Children’s Savings Accounts (CSAs) to help families save for the child’s educational future, said Martin. Each child received $50 in a seed account, an online tracking system, and access to financial literacy events.

Savings are “matched by parents,” Martin said. “When you have savings, you’re four times more likely to go to college. It creates a mindset for families who didn’t necessarily think about higher education (as an option).”

Photo by Monique Ching
Panelists (from left) John Barros, Constance Martin, Margaret Miley, and Carlos Moreno take questions.

Responding to questions about transit, Barros noted that ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft have actually brought service to communities that were once invisible.

While working at the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative “it was difficult to get a cab in Roxbury,” Barros said.

He added that spotty public transit service to low income areas is just another aspect adding to the cost of being poor.

“It takes certain parts of the city more than an hour to get to downtown,” Barros said.

The city will do better if it can maximize human production and the ability for all to participate in the economy, Barros said. Tying this back to the Trump administration, he noted that devaluing women,  people of color, or immigrants is bad for business.

“Doing good can be good for you,” Barros said. “The innovation economy cannot survive without difference.”

This was the first in a series of policy seminars hosted by the Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning (UEP) program. The schedule will be released once it is finalized. Check back for updates.

Climate change cannot be separated from social justice, panel says
| March 4, 2017 | 5:18 pm | Colloquium, M.P.P., Tufts, Tufts Environmental Studies Department, UEP | Comments closed

A panel of Boston-area practitioners speaks to Tufts University students about climate justice issues during a February 2017 UEP colloquium.

The following piece was submitted by Tufts undergraduate student Sika Gadzanku.

At its core, Climate Justice is a social justice and human rights issue.

Climate Justice is working to rectify economic, racial and social inequities that exist when discussing the benefits and burdens of climate change and environmental degradation. It is the conscious effort to be intersectional in any measure aimed at mitigating climate change and acknowledging that marginalized communities suffer the most from the effects of climate change.

Master’s in Public Policy students at Tufts University’s Environmental and Urban Planning (UEP) program organized a panel that discussed the importance and place of climate justice within the larger umbrella of combating climate change. The panelists were:

The discussion centered on how the communities of Chelsea, Roxbury, Worcester and, to an extent, the greater Boston area are making their communities more resilient in the face of social, economic, racial and health challenges.

A panel, assembled by graduate students of the Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning program, takes questions from the audience.

The key takeaways were:

  • Climate justice for low-income communities must be prioritized

“Chelsea has 24 percent of its residents below the poverty line. The state average is 10 percent,” said Maria Belen Power, and added that low-income communities in Massachusetts, largely made up of people of color, will be the worst hit by climate change. It’s already happening and is projected to get worse. Thus, a big part of the work of organizations like GreenRoots, Inc. and ACE are partnering with the state government to outline resilience efforts and educate residents in these areas on the dangers of climate change and the benefits of green living.

  • Combating climate change must include obvious co-benefits  

Panelists stressed the need to be truly intersectional when dealing with climate justice since residents of low-income communities face additional economic, social and racial inequities. Kalila Barnett spoke on the importance of working better to connect environmental and economic issues such that addressing a problem provided a co-benefit. That is, solving an environmental issue also provides an economic benefit. In her view connecting these issues only serves to increase community engagement. Additionally, David McMahon of Dismas House highlighted how a homeless shelter invested in solar power – reducing its electric bill from $20,000 to $0 while enjoying a $2000 rebate incentive from MassCEC.

  • Community engagement and cross-party collaboration is critical

ACE is led by and composed of Roxbury residents which makes their mission and goals more personal. This community-based model has proved effective in building neighborhood support for their activities. ACE, in collaboration with GreenRoots, also community-based, successfully blocked the construction of a diesel-fired power plant planned to occupy the space opposite an elementary school complex in Chelsea.

  • Take advantage of Massachusetts’ leadership in green living

As mentioned, investing in green energy presents opportunities for individuals and organizations to reduce their carbon footprint and save money through reduced utility costs. David McMahon highlighted Massachusetts’ place as a leader in green living – it has the best energy efficiency program and fourth largest solar energy generation in the country. Yet, a third of homes are still heated using oil furnaces, which are only 50 percent efficient. With reduced funding sources available to low-income communities to switch out these furnaces drying up, organizations like the Worcester Green Low Income Housing Coalition are spearheading initiatives to reduce carbon footprint and reduce energy costs for their members.

  • Marginalized communities deserve a seat at the table

Low-income communities must be given decision making power and some form of equity during the development of resilience projects. Dr. Atyia Martin remarked that giving residents a seat at the table ensures that proposed resilience solutions are actually socially, economically and racially equitable. It ensures the struggles of low-income communities are heard.  

Overall, this panel created an avenue to learn more about the need for climate justice and the ongoing work of some climate justice organizations in Massachusetts.

Looking to get involved?

  1. Identify your skills to know where you will be most useful. Skilled in social media? Volunteer as a publicity intern. Knowledgeable about environmental engineering solutions? Volunteer your services to research and analyzing appropriate technologies for a community-specific issue. Here is a list of some climate justice organizations.
  2. Bear in mind that any meaningful engagement with residents of low-income communities is based on trust and trust only develops over time.
Flint crisis a tale of democracy hijacked
| January 10, 2017 | 5:38 pm | student papers, Tufts, Tufts Environmental Studies Department, UEP | Comments closed

This post was adapted from an assignment UEP student Elijah Romulus wrote for the Cities in Space, Place, and Time class. The assignment was an analysis of a policy created after 1950.

Flint Water Advisory Task Force Final Report

Credit: Jake May/AP Virginia Tech professor Marc Edwards shows the difference in quality between Detroit and Flint water after testing.

Credit: Jake May/AP
Virginia Tech professor Marc Edwards shows the difference in quality between Detroit and Flint water after testing.


Close to a century after the first city plan of Flint, Michigan was released, the city went from a growing metropolis to a declining city facing disaster. On December 14, 2015, Mayor Karen Weaver declared the city of Flint in a State of Emergency. An environmental and public health disaster that was traced to the city switching its water source to the Flint River in 2014, a manmade disaster. Flint, once a bustling satellite of the Motor City, Detroit, was now in the headlines for municipal water contamination and lead poisoning in its community. To this date there is still lead in the Flint water despite efforts to fix the problem. The governor of Michigan, Rick Snyder appointed a Flint Water Advisory Task Force to report on the situation. This paper will analyze the Task Force’s 116-page report, which proposed reforms and policies through 44 recommendations that stretch across 10 different local, state, and federal institutions and agencies. The paper focuses on five recommendations in particular.


1) Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS): Ensure that MDHHS is transparent and timely in reporting and analysis of aggregate data regarding children’s blood lead levels. MDHHS data regarding lead levels shall be provided to individuals and organizations, based on their expertise, upon request and in cases when the interpretation of data by MDHHS is questioned.

The MDHHS recommendation stated above follows one finding by the taskforce that the department was slow to analyze the data it had on children’s blood lead levels. Furthermore, there was reluctance to share the data it had with Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, a pediatrician who was investigating lead poisoning among her patients. Likewise, MDHHS did not cooperate with Professor Marc Edwards, who was helping residents test the city’s water. Based on the Task Force’s introduction as well as the remainder of the executive summary, they found failure of state government at all departments and this recommendation reflects that. The MDHHS was found to be non-transparent and even defensive in its handling of the water crisis.

2) State-Appointed Emergency Managers: Review Michigan’s Emergency Manager Law (PA 436) and its implementation, and identify measures to compensate for the loss of the checks and balances that are provided by representative government.

On December 26th 2012 Michigan Governor Rick Snyder approved senate Bill No. 865,  introduced by state senator Phil Pavlov. This bill was later named the Local Financial Stability and Choice Act, Act 436 of 2012. This bill in essence installs emergency managers, EMs, in cities, municipalities, and school districts deemed in a financial crises by the state, in lieu of the elected governance, granting the EM full executive power. The topic of emergency management was one of great tension before and after the Flint Water Crisis. Act 436, though passed in 2012, comes from a long line of similar acts dating back to 1990. The Task Force found in that the state’s EM law could improve to ensure protection of public health and safety not be lost in the name of financial urgency.

3) United States Environmental Protection Agency: Exercise more vigor, and act more promptly, in addressing compliance violations that endanger public health.

In another case of an agency waiting too long to take action, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was also responsible in the Flint Water Crisis. As early as June 2015, EPA officials were relaying concerns for the drinking water in Flint but upper management was hesitant to take action.

4) Environmental Injustice: Issue an Executive Order mandating guidance and training on Environmental Justice across all state agencies in Michigan, highlighting the Flint water crisis as an example of environmental injustice. The state should reinvigorate and update implementation of an Environmental Justice Plan for the State of Michigan.

Since the environmental disaster occurred, many journalists, academics, and citizens alike have equated this to an issue of environmental racism. The city of Flint is a majority-minority city with 57% of the population reported to be African American according to the 2010 census. While there is nothing that points directly to environmental racism, there is a lack of environmental justice laws to protect citizens as noted by the Task Force. It urged the governor to pass an executive order to be proactive in the face of environmental injustices and not be reactive in the event of another crisis.

Credit: Jake May/AP Gov. Snyder apologized, promising to fix the problem, but critics call the effort "too little, too late."

Credit: Jake May/AP
Gov. Snyder apologized, promising to fix the problem, but critics call the effort “too little, too late.”

5) State-wide: Use the occasion of the Flint water crisis to prompt local and state re-investment in critical water infrastructure, while providing mechanisms to advance affordability and universal access to water services.

According to the Detroit news: Elevated blood-lead levels are seen in a higher percentage of children in parts of Grand Rapids, Jackson, Detroit, Saginaw, Muskegon, Holland and several other cities, this plays right into the Task Force’s recommendation to update all of Michigan’s water infrastructure. It was not only that the city of Flint switched to a corrosive water source, but the pipes were filled with lead and city employees were not properly equipped or trained to deal with the conversion of water sources. All these factor into the inadequate water infrastructure that the Task Force described in its report.  

The five recommendations above best speak to how the state and federal governments failed the city of Flint according the Task Force’s report. The Task Force did a good job of putting the state and federal governments’ front and center of who is to blame for this environmental disaster. The authors interviewed 63 people from the governor, to doctors, to the ACLU, to citizens of Flint. Notably, they concluded in one finding that ultimate accountability for Michigan executive branch decisions rests with the Governor.  

In context

The events that followed the report’s early-2016 release suggest it was indeed influential. In the months following the release of the report, six state employees were charged with criminal offenses from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. The employees were originally suspended without pay during the process but a few months later the state reversed its decision and resumed their pay, costing taxpayers up to $500,000 in addition to granting them legal defense by the state’s attorney general. While the report holds the state responsible for the crisis, and likely catalyzed legal action against the state employees, it appears to the writer that government officials and state employees are above the law and rarely if ever face prison sentences.  

One issue that seems to be lacking in the conversation of the Flint Water Crisis, however, is the Flint river itself. While there are many calls for environmental justice, it is the writer’s opinion that there should be space for environmentalism as well. The Flint River became so corrosive that it was able to eat through pipes. But without the Flint River, the city would not have experienced its boom in the early 20th century, much like Los Angeles’ dependence on the LA River for its success that Jenny Price described in her essay. Currently, the Flint River is in bad shape and needs attention. Some argue environmentalism is a “white cause” while environmental justice is a so-called “minority cause.” This may factor into the lack of environmentalism work  in the majority-minority city of Flint.

While the story of Flint is one of tragedy, there is a positive aspect and it is the citizens of Flint. The citizens took matters into their own hands when the government failed them. While children and adults alike were falling victim to lead poisoning at the hands of state sponsored austerity measures, citizens fought for justice. This was with the help of organizations like the ACLU, doctors and professors, and select state and federal employees with righteous indignation to speak up against injustice. Most recently the fight for justice continued as the groups such as Concerned Pastors for Social Change, Flint Activist Melissa Mays, the ACLU, and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) filed a lawsuit against the state of Michigan to deliver clean water to households in the city of Flint that don’t have access. Even after the state was found responsible for the crisis, it is still fighting against the suit.

Lessons Learned

Flint, Michigan is a wakeup call for various reasons whether it be environmental justice issues, environmentalism, human rights issues, the harmful effects of austerity, and more. There are citizens in the city of Flint still without reliable drinking water. People will be dealing with the lead poisoning for the rest of their lives and there are more public health issues that have arisen in the midst of the crisis. Flint is an example of what happens when democracy is snatched and technocrats and bureaucrats take control. Flint is an example of big business and profits over people. Flint is an example of what happens to cities that are either poor or poor and majority-minority. As planners, policy makers, and change agents it is important to see what went wrong and what went right with Flint. The question that must be asked is: How can one use his or her position to make positive change even if a particular department or agency moves in a negative direction? Flint cannot be forgotten and the citizens of Flint deserve justice because water is life.  

Read the full paper here: Elijah Romulus – Analysis of Flint Water Advisory Task Force Final Report


Works Cited

“Flint Doctor Mona Hanna-Attisha on How She Fought Gov’t Denials to Expose Poisoning of City’s Kids.” Democracy Now! January 15, 2016. Accessed November 27, 2016. https://www.democracynow.org/2016/1/15/flint_doctor_mona_hanna_attisha_on.

“What Did GM & the Governor Know? GM Stopped Using Flint Water Over a Year Before Emergency Declared.” Democracy Now! February 17, 2016. Accessed November 27, 2016. https://www.democracynow.org/2016/2/17/what_did_gm_the_governor_know

Aldridge, Chris. “Pavlov Named Most Conservative, Nominated Michigan Senator of the Year.” Huron Daily Tribune. April 20, 2016. Accessed November 19, 2016. http://www.michigansthumb.com/news/article/Pavlov-named-most-conservative-nominated-7260110.php.

Allen, Robert. “6 state employees criminally charged in Flint water crisis” Detroit Free Press. July 30, 2016. Accessed November 28, 2016. http://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/flint-water-crisis/2016/07/29/6-state-employees-criminally-charged-flint-water-crisis/87697834/

Bosman, Julie. “E.P.A. Waited Too Long to Warn of Flint Water Danger, Report Says.” The New York Times. October 20, 2016. Accessed November 28, 2016. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/21/us/epa-waited-too-long-to-warn-of-flint-water-danger-report-says.html?_r=1

Carmody, Steve. “State of Michigan Fighting Federal Court Order to Deliver Water to Flint Homes.” Michigan Radio. November 17, 2016. Accessed November 28, 2016. http://michiganradio.org/post/state-michigan-fighting-federal-court-order-deliver-water-flint-homes.

Davis, Matthew, Chris Kolb, Lawrence Reynolds, Eric Rothstein, and Ken Sikkema. Flint Water Advisory Task Force – Final Report. Report. Office of Governor Rick Snyder, State of Michigan. 2016. http://mediad.publicbroadcasting.net/p/michigan/files/201603/taskforce_report.pdf?_ga=1.147700144.609033213.1458749402

Egan, Paul. “Federal Judge Orders Delivery of Bottled Water in Flint.” Detroit Free Press. November 10, 2016. Accessed November 28, 2016. http://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/flint-water-crisis/2016/11/10/delivery-bottled-water-flint/93613760/.

Eligon, John. “A Question of Environmental Racism in Flint.” The New York Times. January 21, 2016. Accessed November 28, 2016. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/22/us/a-question-of-environmental-racism-in-flint.html.

Emery, Amanda. “Police confirm body inside vehicle submerged in Flint River.” MLive.com. April 1, 2016. Accessed November 28, 2016. http://www.mlive.com/news/flint/index.ssf/2016/04/police_confirm_body_inside_veh.html   

Fonger, Ron. “Flint water crisis prosecutors tell Appeals Court more criminal charges expected.” MLive.com. September 6, 2016. Accessed November 28, 2016. http://www.mlive.com/news/index.ssf/2016/09/flint_water_crisis_prosecutors_1.html

Fonger, Ron. “State reinstates pay for employees charged with crimes in Flint water crisis.” MLive.com. August 18, 2016. Accessed November 28, 2016. http://www.mlive.com/news/index.ssf/2016/08/state_reinstates_pay_for_emplo.html

Graham, David. “Who is to Blame for Flint’s Lead Crisis?” The Atlantic. March 24, 2016. Accessed November 27, 2016. http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/03/flint-task-force-rick-snyder-blame/475182/

Helms, Matt. “Canadians Deliver Water to Protest Detroit Shutoffs.” USA Today. July 24, 2014. Accessed November 28, 2016. http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/07/24/canadians-deliver-water-to-protest-detroit-shutoffs/13130625/

Hohn, Donovan. “Flint’s Water Crisis and the ‘Troublemaker’ Scientist.” The New York Times. August 21, 2016. Accessed November 27, 2016. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/21/magazine/flints-water-crisis-and-the-troublemaker-scientist.html.

Johnson, Jiquanda. “State Oversight Board Restores Power to Flint City Council despite Concerns.” MLive.com. May 26, 2016. Accessed November 28, 2016. http://www.mlive.com/news/flint/index.ssf/2016/05/flint_city_council_powers_rest.html.

Lewis, Chris. “Does Michigan’s Emergency-Manager Law Disenfranchise Black Citizens?” The Atlantic. May 09, 2013. Accessed November 19, 2016. http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2013/05/does-michigans-emergency-manager-law-disenfranchise-black-citizens/275639/.

Mock, Brentin. “Are There Two Different Versions of Environmentalism, One ‘white,’ One ‘black’?” Mother Jones. July 31, 2014. Accessed November 28, 2016. http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/07/white-black-environmentalism-racism.

Mostafavi, Beata. “What Happened Last Time? A Look Back at Flint’s 2002 State Takeover.” MLive.com. November 10, 2011. Accessed November 19, 2016. http://www.mlive.com/news/flint/index.ssf/2011/11/what_happened_last_time_a_look.html.

Oosting, Jonathan. “Michigan Proposal 1: Voters Reject Measure, Repeal Controversial Emergency Manager Law.” MLive.com. November 07, 2012. Accessed November 19, 2016. http://www.mlive.com/politics/index.ssf/2012/11/election_results_michigan_vote.html.

Oosting, Jonathan. “Snyder Signs Replacement Emergency Manager Law: We ‘heard, Recognized and Respected’ Will of Voters.” MLive.com. December 27, 2012. Accessed November 19, 2016. http://www.mlive.com/politics/index.ssf/2012/12/snyder_signs_replacement_emerg.html.

Patrick, Deval. 2014. Executive Order 552. Massachusetts: Office of the Governor.

Price, Jenny. “Remaking American Environmentalism: On the Banks of the L.A. River.” Environmental History, November 12, 2007, 536-55.

Savage, Chris. “The Scandal of Michigan’s Emergency Managers.” The Nation. February 15, 2012. Accessed November 19, 2016. https://www.thenation.com/article/scandal-michigans-emergency-managers/.

Senate Bill No. 865, Sess. of 2012 (Mic. 2012), https://www.legislature.mi.gov/documents/2011-2012/publicact/pdf/2012-PA-0436.pdf

U.S. Census Bureau, “Quick Facts. Flint city, Michigan” People. Accessed November 28, 2016. http://www.census.gov/quickfacts/table/PST045215/2629000

Vasilogambros, Matt. “Upholding Michigan’s Emergency Manager Law.” The Atlantic. September 12, 2016. Accessed November 27, 2016. http://www.theatlantic.com/news/archive/2016/09/michigan-emergency-manager-law/499658/  

Woods, Ashley. “Michigan Proposal 1 Results: State Emergency Manager Law Fails.” The Huffington Post. November 07, 2012. Accessed November 28, 2016. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/07/michigan-proposal-1-results-emergency-manager_n_2070169.html.

Wilkinson, Mike, Bridge Magazine. “Kids’ lead levels high in many Michigan cities.” The Detroit News. January 28, 2016. Accessed November 28, 2016. http://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/michigan/flint-water-crisis/2016/01/27/many-michigan-cities-higher-lead-levels-flint/79438144/


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.

Sharing the Work and Research of James Jennings
| April 4, 2015 | 6:57 pm | Events | Comments closed

Toward Racial Equality and Social Justice

This Wednesday, April 8, Tufts UEP and the Tufts Consortium on Studies in Race, Colonialism, and Diaspora is hosting a symposium in celebration of  Dr. Jennings work and research. The event will feature current and former colleagues, and a panel discussion. Register for the event here.


When: Wednesday, April 8th, 2015. 4:45pm to 7:30pm

Where: Barnum 008, 163 Packard Ave at Tufts University Medford Campus


  • Julia Jordan-Zachary, Associate Professor and Director of Black Studies Program at Providence College
  • Miren Uriarte, Professor of Human Services and Senior Research Associate at the Mauricio Gastón Institute for Latino Community Development and Public Policy at University of Massachusetts Boston
  • Fran Jacobs, Associate Professor at the Department of Urban and Environmental Planning and Policy at Tufts University
  • Chris Jones, Executive Director at Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative
  • Pearl Robinson, Associate Professor of Politics, Africa, and African-American Politics at Tufts University
  • Nina Gaeta Coletta, Family Center Director at East Boston High School
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.