For the past couple of years I have been especially interested in urban planning and community development and worked to integrate those fields into my academic studies. My thesis is driven by these interests.
As I discuss in my post on the journey to my thesis topic, I began with the large question of urban equitable development as I was intrigued by how global cities are developing and how they can develop with less harm to their physical environment, marginalized communities, and their own future. Researching this topic with a planning lense meant looking at development through land-use, economic, and social reforms such as housing policies. Therefore, I chose to look at the impact of one of Portland, OR’s initiatives to develop equitably, the Residential Infill Project (RIP). RIP’s relationship to equitable urban development is depicted by the chart below.
Exposure to the policies, concepts, and actors around this project as well as the project itself will help me better understand the work I would like to go into after graduation. Lewis & Clark does not have urban planning courses so I felt this thesis would be a good way to explore fundamental urban planning concepts using tools and skills I already have.
Of course, the likelihood of getting a job right out of college in the planning world is made difficult by the current COVID-19 pandemic, I am hopeful that if/when I step into the professional planning world these fundamental urban planning concepts will serve as the foundation for the rest of my learning in the field. Overall, doing this thesis has introduced me to parts of urban planning that I would not have been introduced to if I had not chosen this topic.
Beyond the professional implications of my thesis, my work has taught me a lot about my strengths and weaknesses as a thinker, writer, and data analyst. Completing this thesis has shown me how much I depend on interest and passion to get me through challenging projects. It is difficult for me to complete my work if I am not excited or interested in the subject at that moment. However, finding something that does excite me is a strength of mine. Therefore, I have learned how to find a small piece of interest or enthusiasm for my work whenever I am feeling unmotivated. This is a skill that will help me in life far beyond graduation.
I believe that my passion for equitable urban development as well as my enthusiasm for the small aspects of planning concepts, both of which is responsible for the eventual completion of my thesis, will allow me to enter the planning world in some respect. Whether it be just a cheerleader on the sideline, a student at the feet of a mentor, or a worker in the field I see myself becoming an active participant in urban planning after my thesis is completed.