To wrap up class at the end of the semester and prepare for ENVS 400 next semester, I have been working on a framework for my capstone project. This framework was built from my expanded and updated area of interest. My area of interest focused on transportation in cities, and I ended up situating it mostly in Richmond, Virginia. For my capstone project, I am planning to expand my focus to include transportation between cities, and likely situate it in Portland.
My area of interest also was more narrow in that it focused on gentrification and urban redevelopment; in my capstone I am more interested in shifting and expanding this perspective to include historical urban development in general, as a way of better understanding current redevelopment projects. I am also interested in expanding my focus to include other transit systems that I didn’t study in my area of interest; highways, inter city transportation, and possibly air travel.
In order to guide my research, I have written the focus question, “How does transportation shape cities?” I am also choosing to use three elements of "Environment" is a word so embedded in environmental discourse and scholarship that it has effectively disappeared. We all know what the environment is—or do we? And what do our unexamined assumptions about environment mean for how we approach environmental issues? A careful examination of the word might lead us to... More theory to guide my research. The elements were generally based on chapters from Companion to Environmental Studies. These elements are “Political Economy,” “Transportation Systems,” and “Urban Development.” I chose these elements since transportation systems is mostly focused on the differences and nuances between different types of transportation, as well as the interactions between each. Urban development is a broad framing theory that gets at the question of how cities are shaped and by who. Urban development explores how cities grow and change, and how new transit infrastructure gets planned and built. Political economy helps to compliment and make urban development more coherent by exploring the actors and impacts of both urban development and transportation systems. Through political economy, I also want to consider how processes like redlining and gentrification interact with transportation systems.
These concepts all come together to form a general framework for the directions my research may go in. While we have been mainly focusing towards the top of the hourglass towards the end of ENVS 350, we also began on the middle of the hourglass aspects of situated research. I have also been considering which methodologies and data sources I will be using in my research, and while I have not yet finalized this aspect, I am leaning towards using policy analysis, spatial data analysis, and other forms of archival research. This was the most difficult aspect of putting together this framework since I am still not sure exactly what form my situated research will take. Ultimately there are many more steps that I will need to take before ENVS 400. I have created a timeline of these steps at the end of my presentation, but I will be generally focusing on building up the middle of my hourglass and exploring data sources, research methodologies, and more background research particularly on inter-city transportation and other transportation systems issues I am not as familiar with. Additionally, I am deciding whether I want to focus my situated context on Portland or potentially expand it to include other cities.