Dietrich Bouma

Grand Rapids, Michigan

I care about land equity, justice, and security for the poor and marginalized, and I wanted to go into a field that stressed theory and practice. 

Why did you choose Cornell and AAP?

I have been fascinated by South Asia since I set foot in Nepal in 2008. I am interested in doing long-term research and teaching there and Cornell provides amazing support for students interested in planning and development throughout Asia. My research has a regional focus in South India. I researched graduate programs with top-notch planning programs and deep connections to South Asia. Cornell was at the top of the list. CRP and other programs have faculty and students who work in South India, and Cornell also has the South Asia Program (a national resource center for South Asian studies), Nilgiris Field Learning Center, and Tata-Cornell Institute. On top of that, Cornell has great resources for doing international research generally. Lastly, I have a family with two small kids, and Cornell provides great support for students with families. My family has taken advantage of childcare grants, preschools, and networking and workshops for student spouses through Cornell.

What inspired you to join the field of city and regional planning?

I care about land equity, justice, and security for the poor and marginalized, and I wanted to go into a field that stressed theory and practice. I come from an interdisciplinary background — policy, ecology, and development studies — and want my research to have direct impacts on the ground. Planning at Cornell is a great fit.

What are your extracurricular interests and how have you incorporated them into your college life?

I enjoy life with my wife and two boys; playing sports (soccer, volleyball, badminton, biking, and running primarily); adventuring through natural areas; spending time with friends and neighbors; and exploring cultures, especially in South Asia.

What do you hope to accomplish during your time at AAP and after graduation?

I want to produce compelling science that improves lives by furthering equity and justice in land ownership and use in South Asia. After my doctoral program, I'd like to share my interest in land use and environmental planning with students through teaching and research. One aspect of that would be to build bridges between U.S. and India universities to engage this type of research.