Striving to find a balance given the productive tension between professional practice and pubic service, and academic research and teaching has marked CRP's engagement with the world. Since the field workshops of early years, planning students have been engaged in work worldwide through classes, internships, field trips, and applied research. Many bridge between departments such as the activities of the recently formed student-led outreach group DesignConnect, the pro bono development consulting group Cornell Global Solutions, or the teams that compete in various competitions including the Urban Land Institute’s Gerald D. Hines Student Urban Design Competition.
Department faculty lead a number of ongoing research and outreach projects including: Lourdes Beneria’s comparative study of policies with an emphasis on Spain and Latin America to balance family and labor market work; Pierre Clavel’s Progressive Cities Archives Project, profiling progressive mayors from across the United States; the Creative Economy Project by Susan Christopherson; the Regional Infrastructure and Air Quality Planning Project led by Kieran Donaghy; the national award-winning Design for Health Project lead by Ann Forsyth; Neema Kudva's small cities project in India and East Africa; Project Planning Workshops, most recently in Haiti, led by David Lewis; Rolf Pendall’s Building Regional Resilience Project; numerous historic preservation initiatives in Asia led by Michael Tomlan, Jeff Chusid, and Thomas Hahn; and the national Linking Economic Development and Child Care Research Project, directed by Mildred Warner.
Cornell graduates continue to make their mark on the world, through positions in government, nonprofit agencies, international organizations, universities, and the private sector in well over 70 countries.
CRP in New York
The New York City Program for the college, which included a CRP component, was originally run by K.C. Parsons and Stuart Stein in the 1960s and 1970s with a grant obtained by Dean Kelly. The college program was revived in the mid-2000s by Dean Mohsen Mostafavi and departmental activities continue today. In the early years, CRP students worked in summer internships in New York City agencies coupled with an evening class each week in the city. In later years Professor Roger Trancik, who had a joint appointment in CRP and landscape architecture taught planning studios in New York City, while Ann-Margaret Esnard conducted Environmental Justice and GIS workshops in collaboration with community organizations in the South Bronx, Harlem, and the Ironbound section of Newark, NJ.
Three recent programs are illustrative of CRP’s continued engagement with New York City. A Cornell-wide program based in CRP, the Cornell Urban Scholars Program, ran from 2002 to 2009 and was dedicated to supporting the efforts of New York City's most innovative nonprofit organizations and local government agencies to eliminate the fundamental causes of poverty. Each year 25 to 30 students participated in a preparation class and summer internship; later graduate student research fellows were added. The Growing Up in New York City (GUiNYC) program, also Cornell-wide but based in CRP, ran from 2005 to 2007. Along with coursework in CRP, the program included summer internships for select undergraduate and graduate students with five community-based nonprofits and schools that work with children and youth in low-income, immigrant neighborhoods. GUiNYC partnered with the organizations to use participatory action research tools to encourage and support young people to make significant changes in their neighborhoods. The Cornell Urban Mentorship Initiative (CUMI), which started in 2007, is a year-long, long distance mentorship program that combines online communication with face-to-face interaction. CUMI matches 30 Cornell undergraduate students with 30 eighth graders from the Urban Assembly School for the Urban Environment in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.
Upstate New York
Upstate New York is CRP's natural setting. Over the years faculty have been centrally involved in Ithaca and the region, both through shorter-term research projects and course-based commitments, and through longer-term professional and political involvements, as the text of this book continually notes. Students are involved as researchers, interns, fieldworkers, and through coursework, particularly in workshops in various cities including Ithaca, Lansing, the Village of Cayuga Heights, Utica, Binghamton, and more.
Recent longer-term programs include the Rochester Project, which included various community-based, economic development and workforce initiatives with funding from the City of Rochester, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, and the U.S. Department of Labor. Five department faculty as well as more than 50 students at the undergraduate and graduate levels were involved in this project. Similarly, the Liberty Project involved the creation of an economic development plan using participatory methods for this small city in the Catskills, with funding support from various local entrepreneurs and businesses. More recently, CRP faculty and adjunct lecturers have been involved in doing research and conducting community workshops to address the Marcellus Shale controversy in Tompkins County.
CRP in New Orleans
The devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 shook the United States in many ways. Environmental justice, race / class struggles, and a strong sense of distrust towards government agencies were some of the issues raised by this tragic disaster. As a response to this complicated phenomenon, a group of planning students decided to make an attempt to disentangle these issues and obtain a deeper understanding of the city of New Orleans. This movement resulted in a collective reading course directed by Professor Ken Reardon in the later half of the fall 2005 semester.
Late in the summer of 2006, CRP students began drafting a proposal to offer comprehensive recovery planning services to the city’s Ninth Ward. Working collaboratively with ACORN and students and faculty from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Columbia University’s Earth Institute, the students outlined a process by which they could prepare a comprehensive redevelopment plan. Weeks later, in a national competition managed by the New Orleans Community Support and the Rockefeller Foundation, CRP’s proposal emerged as one of 16 chosen from a pool of 64 architecture, planning, and engineering firms.
The CRP team was assigned to work with residents, businesspersons, institutional leaders, and elected officials from the city’s Ninth Ward, where more than 65,000 people had lived prior to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
In the fall of 2006, more than 80 CRP students — undergraduate and graduate, in an urban studies course, a neighborhood planning workshop, and an urban design studio — began what came to be called The People’s Plan for Overcoming the Hurricane Katrina Blues: A Comprehensive Strategy for Building a More Vibrant, Sustainable, and Equitable Ninth Ward. The semester’s highlight was a deeply moving and instructive five-day trip to New Orleans. Their findings were striking. The overwhelming majority of buildings in storm-affected areas of the Ninth Ward were structurally sound and could be cost-effectively rehabilitated. In addition, many more residents than anyone had thought had already returned to restore their homes and rebuild their neighborhoods. These findings framed the People’s Plan.
More than 10 Cornell faculty have been involved with New Orleans projects. Cornell has continued its involvement through several workshops, class projects, and internships.CRP Abroad
CRP’s association with planning in Brazil is deep and long-standing. In the 1950s students took courses from Professor Don Belcher in civil engineering and later accompanied Belcher on the air-photo team that selected the site for the new city of Brasilia. Through the 1970s, during the depth of the military dictatorship, more than two dozen Brazilians came to Cornell for M.R.P., M.P.S., and Ph.D. degrees with CRP as their major or minor field. These graduates include many top government officials, university professors, and leading planners. In the early 1980s one of them, Antonio Dantas invited William Goldsmith to teach at the University of Brasilia. Later, a grant from the U.S. Department of Education and the Brazilian counterpart CAPES funded a five-year faculty exchange agreement with the planning department at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. In the early 2000s, CRP and FURJ established the Brazilian Cities Summer program. Numerous U.S. students have studied in Brazil, and students continue to travel in both directions today.
CRP in Puerto Rico
In the 1960s, with the aid of a Ford Foundation grant, CRP joined forces with Cornell Ph.D. Salvador Padilla to invent one of Latin America’s most innovative graduate schools of planning at the University of Puerto Rico. A group of CRP graduate students and faculty taught at UPR as the program developed, and a sizeable group of Puerto Rican students took Ph.D.s at Cornell. The collaboration continues informally.
CRP in Rome
The AAP Cornell in Rome program opened in fall 1986 and CRP joined with a graduate student program in fall 1988. The purpose of the program was to provide M.R.P. students with internationally oriented internships, mainly with U.N. agencies, including the very large FAO and WFP offices in Rome. As the URS program grew, however, URS enrollments came to dominate the program and courses on the European city, Italian regional development, and neighborhood workshops in Rome, along with extensive field trips to understand planning and policymaking in the Italian context, were introduced. Since the late 1990s, between 15 and 22 URS students and 2 to 5 graduate students have enrolled each spring and work out of the Palazzo Lazzaroni, a handsome restored 17th century palazzo in Rome's historic center. Graduate student placements, especially for those with language skills, now include internships in city planning agencies, European think tanks, and private organizations. Thirteen members of the CRP faculty have taught in Rome, each bringing their own perspective to the program and course offerings, as have five visiting professors from other Cornell departments and other universities.CRP in Public Office
As well as engaging in public service, a number of CRP faculty and graduates have held elected office. A sampling includes:
Workshops, Fieldwork, and Fieldtrips
Studios were an important part of Cornell’s early curriculum. From the 1960s through the early 1990s, Stuart Stein built several fieldwork credit courses for the graduate programs. The basic fieldwork course for M.R.P. had students work directly with real clients on projects that clients framed. This approach was expanded to include three more special courses using the same approach: The Built-Environment Education Team (partially funded by the NEA, and run by Tania Werbizky); the Small Town Workshop run by Norman Mintz; and the Historic Preservation Planning Workshop (both partially funded by the NYS Council on the Arts). The fieldwork and workshop tradition continues to be strong, and the department offers four to six field-based workshops dealing with a variety of thematic issues every year. In addition, graduate students are liberally funded through travel research grants through the International Studies Planning program and other Cornell programs, additionally many of them also get support through CRP's cooperative internship program.
Over the years CRP has also expanded field trips, workdays, and programs away — including short annual trips sponsored by the department, the preservation program, and various student groups — as well as larger programs such as the summer program in Brazil, the winter program in Panama, short-term courses and coordinated internship programs with NGOs in Kenya, Uganda, Zimbabwe, and Ethiopia and many others. CRP has become well-known for courses and workshops in community and economic development planning that integrate action-based research with a progressive political orientation. This approach emphasizes commitment to serve established institutions in planning and policy while remaining involved with and advocating for social justice and social change. These commitments have a polarizing potential but reflect the difficulties of practicing planning in deeply inequitable societies.