ACSP Welcome Trinity University as New Affiliate Member
Monday, June 22, 2020
ACSP welcomes the Trinity College Center for Urban and Global Studies (CUGS) as a new affiliate member!
We recently spoke with CUGS Department Chair Garth Myers to learn more about their program. Here's what Garth shared with us:
ACSP: Tell us about your current program and future plans.
Myers: Trinity College’s Center for Urban and Global Studies (CUGS) is a research and teaching center that plays a critical role in advancing Trinity's urban and global education on campus, in Hartford, and across the world. The Center serves as a driver, facilitator, convener, and hub for faculty and student research and collaborative curricular and outreach initiatives that enhance student learning and strengthen urban connections while broadening and elevating Trinity’s global presence and academic reputation. CUGS houses both an undergraduate Urban Studies major and a graduate certificate program in Urban Planning, among other programs and units.
The Urban Studies BA was launched in 2013, and 104 students have graduated with the degree since the first cohort in the Class of 2014 – there are 40 majors in the classes of 2021, 2022 and 2023 so far, meaning we already have the 11th-largest major of Trinity’s 41 majors, even though we are the youngest major at the College. In Spring 2019, we re-organized the curriculum for the major to streamline the two tracks through which students are expected to complete a four-course concentration. Students either focus on ‘Planning and Policy’ (14 current students) or on ‘Urban Society’ (26 current students) in the concentration.
Our 5-year goal is to explore possibility for developing these two concentrations into separate majors, in Urban Planning and Urban Studies, respectively. This would more effectively delineate the two distinct realms of undergraduate student interest that we now see: applied professional training and general liberal arts education. The graduate certificate officially began in January 2020 but will formally launch in Fall 2020. We currently have 5 students. Our 5-year goal entails the exploration of growing this into a full Master’s program in Urban Planning. That would dovetail with the development of the undergraduate urban planning curriculum. Both ideas are driven by the startling fact that the state of Connecticut has 169 separate towns and yet no BA or Master’s program in urban planning – thus all planners in the state receive training in other states. This is only one aspect of the ‘market’ that we see, but it is an important one for us to foster in growing our program with the College.
ACSP: What it is about membership in our association that sparked your interest?
Myers: We want to grow our program to facilitate professional training for urban planners. Participating in ACSP as a member, we believe, will help us to learn from experts in planning education across the country. We look forward to participating in conferences, forums and any other programming, learning as we go and collaborating with other members.
ACSP: Tell us about your faculty.
Myers: Our permanent teaching faculty include three scholars of urban studies and planning: Garth Myers, Xiangming Chen, and Julie Gamble.
Myers is a geographer with extensive planning coursework in his MA and PhD at UCLA; he focuses on analysis of the history and politics of urban and environmental planning in Africa and the global South.
Chen is a sociologist who focuses on urban development and globalization in China, including the sociology of urban planning.
Gamble holds a PhD in City and Regional Planning from UC-Berkeley; she focuses on sustainable urban development and alternative transportation planning in Latin America.
We are joined by a 4-year, full-time Visiting Assistant Professor, David Lukens, our 2-year Kelter Post-Doctoral Fellow in Applied Urban Studies, Laura Delgado, Professor-of-the-Practice Sean Fitzpatrick, and Part-Time Adjunct Assistant Professor Don Poland. Lukens has a PhD in Geography from Clark University and focuses on gentrification and housing policy in Seoul, South Korea, as well as municipal financing in the US. Delgado just completed her PhD in Urban Planning at MIT, with a focus on immigrant access to planning in US cities.
Fitzpatrick is a lawyer with a longstanding record of practice in urban policy arenas, most recently as director of urban development for the City of Hartford. Poland holds a PhD in Urban Planning from University College London; he is a practicing planner in the greater Hartford area.
ACSP: Tell us about a challenge you have overcome.
Myers: The obvious challenge is that of addressing the intertwined crises of the COVID-19 global pandemic and largely urban uprising against systemic racism in the US. It would be presumptuous to claim in any way, shape or form that CUGS has ‘overcome’ these, but we have worked very hard to meet the challenges in the classroom, on the campus, and in the region. When the semester was upended by the COVID-19 pandemic, we had to reformulate our courses quickly to provide consistent online learning while also adapting material to keep up with the pandemic. For example, Assistant Professor Julie Gamble was teaching courses on Sustainable Urban Development and Transportation Planning in the Spring of 2020. Given the uniquely urban challenges that COVID-19 has brought us and the paradoxes that these challenges create around sustainable development like density, transportation and collective life in the city, Gamble provided new assignments to students that made them critically think through their relationship to urban life. She crafted assignments that included Citylab-inspired activity on Mental Mapping life under COVID-19, photographing personal relationships to food access, and having students document how their relationships with public spaces had changed. In her transport class, she originally assigned students a BRT live ethnographic study to be conducted on Hartford’s CTFastrak with Instagram, but since students could not complete this, they conducted digital ethnographies, following the social media life of different BRT lines across the country. Gamble will also co-teach a course on Pandemic Urbanism with David Lukens. Together, they have quickly formulated a course that will be available to Trinity undergraduates in a virtual and in-person format. The course considers the historic and contemporary relationship between pandemics, public health and the city.
We also collaborated in the creation of a multi-faceted reading list for our students on urban-related elements of both the pandemic and systemic racism. CUGS sponsored a forum through the Connecticut World Affairs Council on racism and policing, with Prof. Peneil Joseph of the University of Texas and Jay Williams of the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving (and former mayor of Youngstown, Ohio), and participated in another forum through the Connecticut chapter of the American Planning Association on racism in planning and zoning in Connecticut. Myers has also been a part of the President Commission on the Future of Trinity that is helping to shape the Board of Trustees’ responses to both COVID-19 and systemic racism. While we cannot say we have solved these crises for Trinity, we are proud of the nimble, thoughtful and innovative manner in which we have responded so far!
Above: Trinity students in the field course on Urban Planning on the Swahili Coast (URST 307) examine the Zanzibar Urban Support Program’s World Bank-funded drainage project in January 2019, in Zanzibar, Tanzania.