Boston Provides On-Site Learning Opportunity for CRP Grad Students

CRP Boston Trip
Jeff Chusid (center) leads a tour of Boston with students during their annual fall field trip. photo / provided
CRP Boston Trip
Matt Lawlor (at right), an urban affairs blogger in Boston, takes CRP grad students on a tour of the city. photo / provided
CRP Boston Trip
CRP students visit the map room with Senior Architect/Urban Designer Michael Cannizzo and other staff at the Boston Redevelopment Authority.  photo / provided
CRP Boston Trip
Architect Tony Hernandez of the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative leads a walking tour through the area where he works. photo / provided
CRP Boston Trip
Emily Hart Reith (B.A. URS '96) and her husband Thomas Reith hosted a CRP alumni reception at Burns and Levinson LLP in Boston. photo / provided
CRP Boston Trip
CRP students attend Carmen for the opening night of the Boston Lyric Opera season. photo / provided
CRP Boston Trip
CRP students in the press box at historic Fenway Park in Boston. photo / provided
CRP Boston Trip
CRP graduate students gather for a group photo during their annual field trip. photo / provided
November 7, 2016

Graduate students in the Department of City and Regional Planning (CRP) visited Boston this year for the department's annual student field trip. The three-day itinerary included a combination of visits to significant historical and cultural sites, a CRP alumni reception, and several meetings, tours, and presenter panels with Boston-area experts in the fields of planning and preservation.

"There are three goals behind these trips," says CRP Associate Professor Jeffrey Chusid. "First, we try to capture some of the distinctive character of the particular city we visit, and in doing so convey to the students a bit of how to really see and think about the places for which they plan. Second, we cover a broad range of topics, giving the students a taste of the diversity of the fields of planning and preservation, and a sense of what they might expect from coursework in these topics. And finally, we build a cohort. The trip happens early in the students' time at Cornell and requires three long, intense days of close contact. And so the students learn about each other, where they are from, and how different people understand place and planning."

The group toured the Rose Kennedy Greenway and the North End with Matt Lawlor, a local urban affairs blogger; Frank Creedon arranged a speaker panel at his organization, MassHousing; Utile Architecture and Planning shared their vision for a comprehensive plan for Boston and Cambridge; and the Dudley Square Neighborhood Initiative (DSNI) provided a walking tour of their neighborhood with local experts and organizers.

"I am extraordinarily grateful for the time we were given in Boston," commented Dillon Robertson (M.R.P. '18), who was inspired by the DSNI tour that showed what a career focused on planning for underserved communities could offer. "The opportunity to interact with accomplished planners has given me a more varied perspective and has confirmed for me the type of planner I would like to one day become. Although concepts like equity in planning are powerful on their own, this trip has allowed me the unique opportunity to compare the theoretical concepts to real-world examples."

Professor Ken Reardon (Ph.D. CRP '90), who directs the Urban Planning and Community Development Program at the School for the Environment at the University of Massachusetts Boston, arranged for presentations by colleagues Jack Wiggin and Ellen Douglas. Douglas gave a lecture on the challenges of rising sea levels in Boston. Wiggin, director of the Urban Harbors Institute, addressed the long battle to treat the city's sewage polluting Boston Harbor. The three then joined the group for lunch and a tour of South Boston.

Other highlights from the trip included a meeting with the staff of the Boston Redevelopment Authority; visits to Quincy Market, Copley Square, the Back Bay and Public Gardens, Boston Common, the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston, and Fenway Park. The group also had the opportunity to meet other CRP alumni during a reception hosted by Emily Hart Reith (B.A. URS '96) and her husband, Thomas Reith at Burns and Levinson LLP. Current students interacted with several alumni who shared their professional experiences after graduation.

Organization for this year's trip began in June. Two graduate assistants, Shannon Cilento (M.A. HPP '16) and John Ronalter (M.R.P. '16), along with Chusid and Michael Tomlan, CRP professor and HPP director, met with several CRP alumni in Boston and decided on the city as this year's destination. Previous destinations for the annual trip include Washington D.C., Detroit, and Cleveland.

By Edith Fikes