The enormity of our current time is beyond words. While we are staying home for the health of everyone, staying connected is more valuable than ever. This special edition of UP’s Semester-in-Review is one way to continue the connections among us. With the rapid shift to online learning, our students have shown tremendous resilience, and the support of faculty, staff, and alumni has been remarkable. There are ups and downs, no doubt.
For planning, COVID-19 presses us to (re)imagine what the new normal could be. How can we work towards addressing the structural failures that add to the vulnerability of disadvantaged communities and people? How can we (re)design public spaces for community engagement and interaction under the constraints of social distancing? Just a start of questions to challenge our minds and practice. Led by UP professor Hiba Bou Akar, a group of doctoral and master’s students have developed an open access reading list on Pandemic Urbanism: Praxis in the Time of COVID-19. I hope you will share this with your friends and colleagues, and contribute to make it a living document. A few students also have been working with the Meatpacking Business Improvement District, to plan for post-COVID recovery.
The shift to online learning has generated unexpected opportunities. With a strong cohort of students eager to join UP in the Fall, a new UP webpage is now in place that pools together key elements of our program and student work. A nice resource to show to anyone interested. Three open UP courses have attracted participants from all around the world. The recordings are now available in GSAPP’s YouTube channel: Community Development Planning with Moira O’Neil; Planning the Cultural Space by Douglas Woodward, Vin Cipolla and Peter Flamm; and Urban Data and Informatics II with Anthony Vanky.
My best wishes and stay well,
The envisioning for the MSUP program has been ongoing since November 2018. Ideas and strategies emerged from a series of faculty focus-group meetings, student ideas competition and feedback, a survey of recent alumni, and focus groups with alumni and planning colleagues. We also have shared a draft strategic plan with students, faculty, and colleagues. This document, titled UP 2020 Strategic Plan, outlines the process and analysis involved, and contents of our plan for the next 5 to 7 years. The plan also will be a part of our program’s preparation for reaccreditation – the site visit is scheduled for mid-November.
Some of you already know that UP’s Program Manager Mike Montilla will be moving on. He has been a wonderful member of our community, always effective and graceful. We will miss him, and wish him the best. In the Fall Mike will be a doctoral student in urban planning at UC Berkeley, joining a number of UP graduates in similar pursuits including two peers from the Class of 2019 now at the University of Southern California and University of Tokyo. We hope to bring in our next program manager soon.
For the first time, we have planned an Introduction to Urban Planning course for undergraduate students, as part of the Introduction to Architecture summer program. Offered in an online format, this pre-professional program is for those who are interested in urban planning, may be considering it as a career, or may wish to get a head start for application to graduate school. They can be students from Columbia or any other university.