Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Idea: College student urban research conference

I have been meaning to mention how the undergraduate planning students at the University of California San Diego present their senior research projects at an annual Urban Research Forum, now in its 21st year. See "Smart growth, preservation goals missed in practice: UCSD urban studies students report results from senior research work" from the San Diego Union-Tribune.

From the article:

Former San Diego City Manager Jack McGrory called the projects "dynamite," and urged the students to apply their energy and enthusiasm in the work world. "I don't want people to sit back and say what I say, say yes to me and not challenge me," he said. "I want people to be be vocal, enthusiastic, energetic around me. Most managers would tell you the same thing. It's important to be as positive as you can be."

Headed by political science professor Steve Erie, the urban studies program is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. And the students continue to find much to study in the county under the direction of Keith Pezzoli, who oversees field research.

Projects for 86 students are posted for the current year. Website, Grand Challenges & Research, Department of Urban Studies & Planning, University of California San Diego

I have thought something like this is necessary for the DC area for awhile. Students, individually and in teams, do projects about the city and the suburbs all the time. Sometimes the projects are very good and are worthy of wider distribution, collection, and retention. An annual conference open to students from all the colleges in the region would be a way to start off such a process here.

Frequently, I am contacted by students with regard to their projects, not just around here, but occasionally from other areas and other countries. I am happy to work with students, because their questions and ideas help me think through issues, sometimes in new ways. And their approach to a subject will be different from mine, and open me up to new ideas and resources.

BUT, in return for my assistance, I always ask that the students send me a copy of what they produce. Interestingly, when I put this out there up front in the interaction, some of the students never contact me again...

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