Wednesday, April 18, 2012

UAP 4984/5564 – Information Technology, Society, and Public Policy

UAP 4984/5564 – Information Technology, Society, and Public Policy met in SecondLife today, visiting Paris, San Antonio, and San Francisco.  Great presentations and discussion.

April 26 Book Talk on Cosmopolitan Canopy Proposes Alternate Concept of Race, Civility

Cosmopolitan Canopy Proposes Alternate Concept of Race, Civility
April 26 Book Talk with Author, Acclaimed Sociologist Elijah Anderson

(Washington, DC)-Noted author and acclaimed Yale sociologist Elijah Anderson will speak about his recent book, The Cosmopolitan Canopy: Race and Civility in Everyday Life, at a special program on Thursday, April 26, 2012 at 6:30pm at Busboys & Poets, 14th and V Streets, NW in Washington, DC.  Busboys & Poets founder Andy Shallal will introduce Anderson and the discussion will be moderated by Virginia Tech’s Derek Hyra, Associate Professor of Urban Affairs and Planning.  The public is invited to attend this free event, co-sponsored by Virginia Tech’s School for Public and International Affairs and its Urban Affairs and Planning Program, George Washington University’s Department of Sociology and Teaching for Change. See the flyer at

About the author: Elijah Anderson holds the William K. Lanman, Jr. Professorship in Sociology at Yale University, where he teaches and directs the Urban Ethnography Project. His most prominent works include The Cosmopolitan Canopy and the award-winning books Code of the Street and Streetwise. His writings have also appeared in The Atlantic, The Washington Post, and The New York Times Book Review. He lives in New Haven and Philadelphia.

About the book: The Cosmoplitan Canopy offers a significant reinterpretation of America’s racial dynamics.  “Following his award-winning work on inner-city violence, Code of the Street, sociologist Elijah Anderson introduces the concept of the "cosmopolitan canopy"-the urban island of civility that exists amidst the ghettos, suburbs, and ethnic enclaves where segregation is the norm. Under the cosmopolitan canopy, diverse peoples come together, and for the most part practice getting along. Anderson's path-breaking study of this setting provides a new understanding of the complexities of present-day race relations and reveals the unique opportunities here for cross-cultural interaction.” (Source: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., Publishers)

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Buehler Named AICGS Resident Fellow

The American Institute of Contemporary German Studies at Johns Hopkins University in Washington, DC has selected UAP's Ralph Buehler as one of their resident fellows. During July and August, Buehler will work at AICGS on a project that compares CO2 emissions from transportation in Germany and the USA.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Slate's "Learning to Walk" Highlights Walking, Transportation Research from UAP's Ralph Buehler

Slate's "Learning to Walk" article by Tom Vanderbilt highlights the practice of walking and its relationship (and its paradoxes) with transportation planning.  It notes the research of UAP's Ralph Buehler, an Assistant Professor in Urban Affairs & Planning and a Faculty Fellow with the Metropolitan Institute at Virginia Tech’s Alexandria Center.  Most of his research has an international comparative perspective, contrasting transport and land-use policies, transport systems, and travel behavior in Western Europe and North America, and this comparison is reflected in Vanberbilt's article.

Read the article here

Public Knowledge Journal 2012-2013 Call for Applications

Are you looking for an opportunity to serve the graduate student community in a scholarly fashion?  Do you want experience working with a peer-reviewed scholarly journal?  Consider applying for a position on the editorial board of the multidisciplinary student journal Public Knowledge Journal (ISSN 1948-3511).  You can contact the current Editor-in-Chief to learn more about the available positions, or read about each position at under ?call for 2012-2013 Editorial Board.? The deadline for applications (statement of interest, CV, and contact information) is May 2, 2011.  Please contact Sarah Surak at with questions or concerns.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

USAID Call for Papers on Local Capacity

We're glad to share this news item from USAID courtesy of PGG PhD Student Arica Young:
"You may know USAID is going through an ambitious reform agenda called USAID Forward ( and Implementation and Procurement Reform (  We are issuing a call for local capacity development papers:  Please let your colleagues in the field know to consider submitting a paper!"

April 19 RRRC Living Lands Workshop: Fostering Sustainable Agriculture for Economic Development

From the Rappahannock Rapidan Regional Commission:

"The second RRRC Living Lands Planning Workshop, focusing on Fostering Sustainable Agriculture for Economic Development, will be held:

Thursday, April 19, 2012 | 8:30am to 4:00pm
Daniel Technology Center at Germanna Community College
18121 Technology Drive, Culpeper, VA 22701 [Directions]

Draft Agenda

Workshop Registration Form | $40 prior to April 11, 2012; $50 thereafter
Farmers Market Registration Form | $20
Exhibitor Registration Form | $40
Sponsorship Registration Form | $250

Note: Farmers Market & Sustainable Agriculture Exhibitors' fees include participation in the Workshop sessions and lunch. Sponsorship fees include two workshop participation registrations and lunch.

AICP CM Approved for 3.5 credits

Sustainable agriculture does not only include organic farming or environmentally friendly farming practices. The USDA defines sustainable agriculture using the "3 Pillars of Sustainability:"

•Profit over the long term
•Stewardship of our nation's land, air and water
•Quality of life for farmers, ranchers and their communities

While sustainable agriculture is a broad topic, the primary goal of this workshop is to provide local government staff, elected officials, area stakeholders and residents with information and insights to help advance sustainable agriculture practices in their communities. Participants will receive information about proven tools to preserve area farms and promote local food, and hear case studies from producers, community organizations and other local governments that have met with noteworthy success. The workshop will provide a forum for the agricultural community to discuss obstacles to sustainable agriculture in the region, as well as explore ideas as to how communities might best pursue solutions in response to these issues.

During lunch, the Commission will also host a farmers' market where producers can promote their farm or business and offer products for sale. Organizations related to sustainable agriculture are also welcome to promote their efforts during this time, although space is limited. Sponsorship opportunities are also available; please call to inquire.

To register, please contact Sue Hromyak at or 540-829-7450."

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Job Oppty: Zoning Administrator

Zoning Administrator - City of Petersburg SALARY RANGE: $30,097 - $48,792
LOCATION: Planning/Community Development
STATUS: Classified/Full-Time
CLOSING DATE: April 20, 2012

DUTIES: Performs difficult technical work in enforcing the City's Zoning Ordinance; does related work as required. The City of Petersburg, population 32,420, is seeking a Land Use Planner with expertise/experience in the administration and enforcement of a local zoning ordinance, administration and enforcement of soil erosion and sedimentation control regulations, general planning skills to provide staff support to the Board of Zoning Appeals and to assist with the application of planning and subdivision regulations. Other duties include planning and zoning studies; updates to the Zoning Ordinance and Comprehensive Plan, grant applications, review of special use permits, subdivision review, other duties as assigned.
Applicants should have excellent verbal and written communication skills, and the ability to work effectively with the public, staff, and elected/appointed officials.

QUALIFICATIONS: Any combination of education and experience equivalent to a Bachelor's or Master's (preferred) degree in Urban Planning, Public Administration, Architecture, Engineering or similar discipline, and at least two years experience in local government.

SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS: Possession of a valid appropriate driver's license issued by the Commonwealth of Virginia. Certification as a Zoning Official and Zoning Administrator through the Virginia Association of Zoning Officials, or equivalent, is preferred or ability to obtain in one year.

SPECIAL NOTICES: Final applicants will be required to submit an updated DMV driving record and submit to urinalysis screening for illegal drug use.
Employees in this position are subject to random drug testing.

Submit application and/or resume by mail or walk-in to: City of Petersburg, Human Resources Department, 103 W. Tabb Street, Petersburg, VA 23803. EOE.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Job Oppty: Planner II/Preservation Planner

Organization: Fauquier County
Location: Warrenton, Virginia


Fauquier County is currently seeking a planner experienced in both land use planning and historic resources. Located in the Virginia Piedmont, the County has a long established planning philosophy of developing thriving service districts surrounded by active agriculture. The County also seeks to preserve environmental and historic resources while encouraging economic development. Planners are therefore involved in a great variety of challenging cases and projects.

This position within the Planning Division of the Department of Community Development is responsible for preparing Comprehensive Plan amendments and small area plans; providing case management and analysis of special exceptions and rezonings; managing the County’s historic preservation program; providing staff support to the County Architectural Review Board which focuses on historic preservation outreach and education; preparing grant applications and administering grants; and providing technical assistance to citizens, community groups, developers and design firms.

Minimum requirements include a Bachelor’s degree in urban planning, historic or preservation planning, architectural history or a closely related field, with a Master’s degree preferred; at least three (3) years of experience that includes both land use analysis and community planning, and historic resources planning; knowledge of Comprehensive Plans, Zoning Ordinances and Subdivision Ordinances; knowledge of National Register Historic Districts and Section 106 Review; experience with building research, knowledge of architectural styles and forms and periods of development; strong research, communication and writing skills; and proficiency in GIS and Microsoft Office.

This is a career ladder position. Minimum starting salary is $49,588, with salary commensurate with qualifications and experience.

Interested applicants must submit an on-line Fauquier County classified application, available on the County's website: www:

Position is open until April 30, 2012. For assistance call (540) 422-8300.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Apr 10 Tuesdays at APA: The Sociable City

You’re Invited!
Tuesdays at APA-DC

April 10 @ 5:30pm
The Sociable City: Planning, Smart Growth, and the Nighttime Economy
Speaker: Jim Peters
President, Responsible Hospitality Institute

Planning for people in a dense, highly concentrated space requires adapting Smart Growth policy to the nighttime economy and increased demand for places to socialize. More extensive consideration of zoning, transportation, and public resource allocation is necessary to attract the people who want to work, study, and play where they live.

Jim Peters, president of the Responsible Hospitality Institute, will share lessons learned from providing consultation services to more than four dozen U.S. and Canadian cities to better plan, manage, and police hospitality zones transitioning from day to evening to late-night activity. An author and a speaker at conferences worldwide, Peters blends his understanding of generational needs to meet and socialize with practical application of core principles gathered from research and documentation of success.

CM | 1.0
RSVP for April 10 Tuesdays at APA

Learn more about this event and upcoming events on the APA website

Tuesdays at APA–DC
Join APA in Washington, D.C., each month for this after-work lecture and discussion series. Practicing planners, researchers, and professionals from allied fields discuss innovative ideas and concepts or present their latest projects.

The events are free and open to APA members and nonmembers.

Please enter on 15th Street and check in with security desk
American Planning Association - Headquarters
1030 15th Street, NW, Suite 750 West
Washington, DC 20005
Metro – Farragut North (red line)
McPherson Square (orange/blue lines)
Parking available in paid parking lots or on street
Several Capital Bikeshare stations are also nearby

We hope to see you there!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

New Faculty Fellow Showcase: Derek Hyra

From the Metropolitan Institute:
"Faculty Fellow Derek Hyra, assistant professor in the Urban Affairs and Planning program in the School of Public and International Affairs shares his work on urban revitalization.

Where did you work before coming to Virginia Tech?
I was employed by the federal government for four years prior to coming to Virginia Tech, working in the US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Office of Policy Develop and Research (PD&R). At PD&R, I investigated the effectiveness of national community development..." Read more

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Citizen App Research Project – Update – Metropolitan Institute, Virginia Tech

From the Metropolitan Institute:
"At the Metropolitan Institute, Virginia Tech, we are in the midst of collecting data for our project, Citizen Apps as a Democratizing Technology:  Challenges and Opportunities for Federal AgenciesFor the next few weeks, we will be posting profiles of app developers and federal executives and managers who have worked on challenges on"  Read more

Monday, April 2, 2012

VAPHA 2012 Spring Meeting, Environmental Health: It's Elemental

"Join us for the Virginia Public Health Association’s Spring Meeting, Environmental Health: It’s Elemental, April 20th in downtown Richmond. The program will serve as a forum to discuss the interconnections between environmental and public health and the impacts environmental factors can have on the public’s health at the most basic levels."  Read more

2012 APA Virginia Annual Conference Call for Session Proposals and Awards Nominations

From APA Virginia:
"We invite you to submit a proposal for a conference session and have set April 11, 2012 as the deadline for submittal. Please visit the website to get the form, which must be completed and sent via email to (Chapter Office). AICP Certification Maintenance credit will be requested for each session.

Interactive, non-traditional session format is encouraged, as are the topics of redevelopment, economic development, infill development, sustainable design, technology, technical skills for development evaluation, Community Development Authorities, Tax Increment Financing, and innovative transit, pedestrian planning, etcetera, etcetera. Please feel free to submit on any relevant topic.

Additionally, previous conference attendees have commented on the need to reduce the number of presentations that use text heavy slide displays; therefore, we encourage you to prepare interactive, non-PowerPoint presentations.

Contact Earl Anderson by email or at 757-890-3497, if there is a session you would like to see at the conference or for questions about submitting. Thank you!

2012 Awards Program Applications
The Chapter extends an invitation to submit applications for the 2012 Planning Awards to be presented during the 2012 Annual Conference. Please help us recognize outstanding efforts in Planning by submitting one or more nominations. Visit the website for the forms and instructions about nominations and past winner information.

The deadline for submittal will be no later than 2:00 PM EST Friday April 13, 2012. If you have questions about the awards, please contact Elizabeth Friel, Vice President for External Affairs, at 571.205.9141 or by email.

Please send all submissions to
2231 Oak Bay Lane
Richmond, VA 23233"

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Alumni Profile: Jim Steffens

James Steffens is an alumni of SPIA’s Urban Affairs and Planning program—in fact he’s proud to be among the first graduates with a VT Master’s in Urban Planning (MURP) degree.  James also earned his Bachelor of Architecture from VT.

After graduating, he began a successful 20+ year career as an urban planner, first in the public sector for four years and the balance as a consultant to local, regional and state agencies.  James also was actively involved in community service at this time; while working as a planner, he was a volunteer firefighter and officer in fire departments in both New Jersey and Florida and it provided an entree to a second career.  “In 1982 I became a career fire chief in a special fire and rescue district (Oneco-Tallevast) in Manatee County, Florida,” he said.  “After a merger with an adjoining department our name was changed to the Southern Manatee Fire and Rescue District.  I served in that capacity until 1992 when I retired and expanded my consulting operation for fire and emergency service agencies into a full time operation.”

In addition to expanding his consulting efforts, James taught at the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg, MD, focusing on the Executive Fire Officer and Management Science curricula.  Although he has curtailed his teaching with NFA in recent years, he still is a full-time consultant at The JTS Association, Inc., which provides managerial, organizational, and training assistance to emergency service agencies both in the US and internationally.

His professional interests include the development and delivery of both leadership and managerial programs for supervisors and managers, primarily in the public sector arena.  “I have been fortunate to be able to develop and deliver programs throughout the US as well as in New Zealand and Australia,” James said.

“My other interest is, when I have the time, to write articles for professional journals and on occasion there is an intersection between his extensive urban planning and fire/emergency services experience and expertise.  As an example, James’ most recent article (to be published shortly in a national trade magazine), addresses the land use and vehicular access requirements for fire stations within a community.  “Unfortunately there is very little information available to guide fire chiefs and other emergency service managers on the land use and traffic characteristics that should be considered when locating a fire station.”

The educational experience at UAP “provides a wide range of information about government, development, and in general the economic structure of our environment.  This broad background assists you in whatever direction your career takes you.”

“In my case it was eventually into the fire service,” he continued.  “A major consideration in fire service management is ensuring that new development meets the requirements for providing fire and EMS service to the occupants and visitors of the development, hence, the UAP training.”

The time James spent at UAP provided an essential foundation for the valuable work he’s completed over the course of his career.  “I have found that throughout my professional career that the training and education I obtained in the UAP program has continually been invaluable, whatever my endeavor has been,” he said.  “I’ve fortunately been able to work in the urban planning profession, been a single-family home builder, and now a emergency services manager and consultant.  I have gained in all of these as a result of my UAP background.”  You can reach James at

Letter from Alumni: Steve Gunnells

Letter from UAP Alumni Steve Gunnells

Steve Gunnells sent this note in response to our call for input about the UAP Strategic Plan and we thought we’d share his insightful update with the UAP community

I graduated with a BA in Urban Affairs and Planning in 1989. When the Westmoreland County office building caught fire in 1990, my original degree went up in flames. My replacement diploma, signed by then-president McComas, says that I am a Bachelor of Urban Affairs. I kind of like the ring of that. I don’t know what it means, but it sounds nicely esoteric.

I earned my Master of Planning degree at the former UVA graduate center in Northern Virginia in 1995. I only found last month from Chris Nelson that the Northern Virginia planning program is now part of VA Tech. By the way, I live and work in Southern California now, so I miss a lot of what goes on in the Old Dominion, although I do seem to read a lot about that new governor.

I also have a second masters from the London School of Economics. Since leaving Blacksburg, I have worked in local government in Westmoreland County, Virginia; worked for the World Bank in Yemen; worked as an Economic Development Fellow with the International Economic Development Council; worked as a community planning and economic development consultant in Michigan; taught English in Yemen; and now I am the Senior Economist with The Planning Center|DC&E in Santa Ana (the capital of Orange County), California.

From my office, I spend much time staring out the window at the San Bernardino Mountains, the planes flying into John Wayne Airport (SNA), and a parking lot otherwise known as the Costa Mesa Freeway (CA-55). I also spend a fair amount of time glued to my computer, and an unbelievable amount of time in meetings, workshops, presentations, and public hearings, working for cities, counties, councils of governments, and developers from small to large. I consider myself pretty darn lucky to still be employed as a planning consultant. As a matter of fact, I have weathered three recessions during my career—1990/91, 2001, and 2007/09—but remain humble enough to know that the next one may be the one to send me back to Wendy’s, where I worked all those years I lived in Blacksburg.

All of this to say, I guess I know a thing or two about planning and I am an alumnus of VA Tech’s UAP program, so maybe there is something I can contribute. On the other hand, I haven’t been back to Virginia since 2001, so I probably know little of use about planning issues and post-secondary education in the Commonwealth.

If you’re outside of the Blacksburg or Northern Virginia area (like Steve), we encourage you to participate in the UAP Strategic Planning effort via our blog...or feel free to email us.  We look forward to your feedback and ideas!

Faculty Profile: Dr. Yang Zhang, PhD

Dr. Yang Zhang is an Assistant Professor in UAP at the Blacksburg campus. Although Dr. Zhang grew up in central China, he often refers to the area as the Kansas of China. He earned both his Bachelor of Science in 1997 and Master of Science in 2000 from Beijing University. Subsequently, Dr. Zhang went on to earn his Ph.D. in Urban and Regional Science from Texas A&M University in 2006. He serves as a research fellow of the Next Generation of Hazards and Disasters Researchers Program, funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). In addition, he is also a research fellow of the Peking University (China)-Lincoln Institute of Land Policy (U.S.) Center for Land Use Policy and Urban Development and of the Hazard Reduction and Recovery Center. 

The primary focus of Dr. Zhang’s research is the dynamic interaction between natural systems and human activities. His recent work examines adaptive policies that encompass policy formulation, policy evaluation, capacity building, and policy adjustments, especially through the lens of urban system recovery following catastrophic disasters and adaptive human behavior. His projects are within domestic and international (China) contexts, and a number of his recent research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the Virginia Sea Grant, and the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy. Dr. Zhang’s research is mainly quantitative, and his work often demonstrates his skills in Geographic Information System (GIS) and econometrics. 

Getting to Know Dr. Zhang
When asked why the UAP Program at Virginia Tech appealed to Dr. Zhang, he said the faculty members are all very productive in their respective area and because of the vibrant academic environment. He also believes the program is beneficial for students due to the fact that UAP equally emphasizes both teaching and community engagement. Another aspect of the UAP Program that especially appeals to Dr. Zhang is that many faculty members adopt a project-based teaching strategy. He states, “They (faculty members) create opportunities for students to work on real life projects for the surrounding communities.” 

In Dr. Zhang’s spare time, he enjoys running, music, cleaning, yard work, and reading about parenting. Ever since his daughters, Sadie and Sophie, were born, more of his time is dedicated towards reading and learning about parenting. When asked what advice he would give students who are entering the workforce, he said, “Be forward looking. This includes making the best use of the flexibility of the UAP’s course requirements to develop skills that match the market demand. Employers always favor emerging technology and quantitative skills. In addition, the forward looking also includes developing skills to work effectively in an increasingly diverse environment.”

Recent Publications Include: 

·      Zhang, Y., & Zhang, C. (2012) Sustainability, Hazard Mitigation, and Urban Land Use Planning: Best Practices in U.S. and Japan. Beijing, China: Science Press. (forthcoming).
·      Zhang, Y., Y. Song, & C. Ding (2009) “Plan Integration for Coordinated Urban Growth in China.”  Pp. 116-127. In Yan Song, and Chengri Ding (Eds), Smart Urban Growth for China, Cambridge, MA: Lincoln Institute of Land Policy Press.
·      Peacock, W.G., N. Dash. & Y. Zhang (2006) “Sheltering and Housing Recovery Following Disaster.” pp. 258 – 274. In Russell Dynes, Havidan Rodriguez, and Enrico Quarantelli (Eds.) Handbook of Disaster Research, New York: Springer.
·      Zhang, Y. (2011) “Land Use Planning and Resilient City: Lessons from U.S. Experiences.” Journal of International Urban Planning, 26(4): 2-11.
·      Zhang, Y., & W.G. Peacock (2010) “Planning for Housing Recovery? Lessons Learned from Hurricane Andrew.” Journal of American Planning Association. 71 (5): 5-24.
·      Zhang, Y. (2010) “Residential Housing Choice in a Multihazard Environment: Implications for Natural Hazards Mitigation and Community Environmental Justice.” Journal of Planning Education and Research, 30(2): 1-15
·      Zhang, Y., Hwang, S.N., & Lindell, M.K. (2010) “Hazard Proximity or Risk Perception? Evaluating Environmental Hazards’ Effect on Housing Value.” Environment and Behavior. 42(5): 597-624
·      Maranville, A., & Y. Zhang (2009) “An Environmental Justice Analysis, Superfund Sites and Surrounding Communities in Illinois.” Environmental Justice. 2 (2): 49-58.

·     Zhang, Y., M.K. Lindell & C.S. Prater (2009) “Modeling and Managing the Vulnerability of  Community Businesses to Environmental Disasters.” Disasters, 33(1): 38-57.

Current Student Story: Lida Aljabar

Lida Aljabar is an undergraduate in Public and Urban Affairs with a concentration in Environmental Affairs and a minor in Landscape Architecture. Although classes are Lida’s main priority, she also works on land preservation and agricultural viability projects as an intern for the Floyd County Department of Community and Economic Development. In addition, she interns for the office of Senator Mark Warner in Roanoke, Virginia. Her key responsibilities are to take opinions from constituents, assist with casework, and research various state issues and policies.

Lida is primarily interested in the areas of urban planning where social progress and environmental stewardship intersect. Sustainable community development, neighborhood revitalization and brownfield redevelopment, growth control measures, and land conservation are some examples. She has also come across a recent interest in models of local, sustainable food systems, because she believes that this type of system can meet social, environmental and economic goals. In addition, planners can feasibly implement several measures to help the cause.

Lida has found that the knowledge she has gained in the UAP Program has been applicable to a wide array of endeavors that she has been involved in. She said the generously liberal education gives her basic knowledge in many disciplines, but has equipped her with the ability to understand all of the topics in the context of policy, public service, and urban development. For example, Lida was able to critically analyze various potential land policies for Floyd County’s suitability to determine the county’s needs. She was able to apply her UAP education to conduct detailed SWOT analyses and also communicate her findings in an understandable language to local residents. Lida believes that public speaking and presentation skills are important strengths of the UAP Program. Because of the UAP Program, she has been able to refine her communication skills, and intends to teach workshop methodology in an upcoming event for the Town of Blacksburg.

When asked why UAP appealed to her, Lida said that the degree in Public and Urban Affairs inspires deep intellectual thought, while covering diverse aspects of society and highlighting their interconnectivity. Furthermore, Lida is ready to kick off a career in community building and sustainable development with the solid platform UAP at Virginia Tech has given her. Lida says that the undergraduate study in UAP gives her a skill that may sound vague, but believes many do not have. She has a firm grasp of communicating with all key players at the table (whether it be architects, environmental scientists, transportation planners, social workers, or entrepreneurs), and to relate each of these parties to the overarching goal in a way that utilizes each of their skills.

Grant Awarded to Dr. Margaret Cowell, PhD

Dr. Margaret Cowell received a grant from the John D. and Catherine T.  MacArthur Foundation to support her research on regional resilience in deindustrializing Midwestern regions of the United States. The larger research network of which Dr. Cowell is a member, “Building Resilient Regions” (BRR), is working on a national analysis of metropolitan resilience in the face of various economic and social challenges. This interdisciplinary team of scholars and practitioners is investigating why regions matter now, what constitutes resilience in the face of these challenges, and what factors help to build and sustain regional resilience. Dr. Cowell's own research examines industrial Midwestern metropolitan regions in the United States as they struggled with the economic restructuring that began to unravel regional economies during the late 1970s and early 1980s. Using a combination of both economic data and qualitative data collected from interviews with former stakeholders in each region, she is identifying how local reactions to this prolonged economic downturn were fashioned, whom they involved, and in what ways they contributed to or detracted from regional resilience in these metropolitan areas.

In December, Dr. Cowell traveled to Paris and Lille, France as a guest of the French-American Foundation and the Florence Gould Foundation.  The trip was part of a reciprocal exchange program for French and American cultural leaders in partnership with the French Ministry of Culture and Communications.  The aim of this ongoing exchange program is to foster dialog between experts from both countries on cultural policy and cultural industry issues and engage a reflection on best practices. The French-American Foundation aims toward the creation of trans-Atlantic contact and cooperation among cultural professionals in all cultural areas. This year marks the beginning of a three-year focus on Cities in Transition. A French delegation of architects, planners, and journalists visited UAP at the Prince Street location in November as part of the American tour. 

In December, Dr. Cowell and four other American delegates traveled to two French cities/regions: the cities of Paris (Ile de France region) and Lille (Nord-Pas-de-Calais region). Both cities are undertaking efforts to revitalize transitional neighborhoods via the PNRQAD program, a national policy initiative which seeks to promote affordable housing and prevent social exclusion.

Sustainable Europe Trip 2012

Interested in studying abroad in Europe? UAP is hosting a study abroad trip for Summer 2012 in Europe. The 2012 Sustainable Europe course is designed around a sequence of three interrelated modules.

Part 1: History and Theory of Contemporary Sustainable Development: How is Switzerland Translating Theory into Practice? (Instructor: Dr. Ralph Hall, VT)

Since the late 1980s, the idea of sustainable development has received growing attention from government agencies, businesses, non-government organizations, and civic groups. As a result, it can now be found behind many public policy initiatives and business activities in virtually all sectors of the economy. Yet, people using the idea often lack a firm grasp of the origins of the concept. This first module will lay the foundation for a common understanding of sustainable development. We will explore the emergence of sustainable development and will review and discuss several critical ideas frequently used when describing the concept. Further, given the importance placed on innovation as an engine of “green” growth/development, we will review the idea of innovation and the role of businesses and government in promoting innovation for sustainability. Each student will then apply their knowledge of sustainability to critically evaluate the Swiss government’s approach to sustainable development.

Part 2: Sustainable and Equitable Neighborhood Development: How are European Housing and Community Development Policies related to the Creation of Socially Integrated, Mixed-Income Communities? (Instructor: Dr. Derek Hyra, VT)

The second module of the course focuses on the social equity component of sustainability by interrogating notions of ethnic/racial diversity, social exclusion, and neighborhood regeneration within metropolitan areas in Europe and the United States. The module explores cross-nationally the redevelopment of neighborhoods that suffer from physical and social deprivation. We will investigate the relationships among race/ethnicity, social housing initiatives, and economic development policies, and explore how these relationships in different contexts contribute to and shape the redevelopment of socially-excluded communities. We will not only assess the ways in which a range of nation-state policies contribute to circumstances in socially-excluded neighborhoods but we will also explore different nation-state policies that have attempted to alleviate ill conditions through facilitating the creation of socially integrated, mixed-income communities. Students will develop a deeper understanding of how various states and cultural contexts reproduce, and yet attempt to address, place-based social inequality.
Part 3: Globalization, Immigration, and Post-Conflict Rebuilding: How are European Institutional Frameworks used for Collaborative Public Engagement and Planning? (Instructor: Dr. Frank Dukes, UVA)

In the final module, we will examine how European communities are seeking sustainable solutions through conflict resolution and collaborative planning processes. As immigration grows and economies suffer, pressures on historic and natural resources mount. These issues offer particular challenges because of their impacts on multiple communities and levels of government, and on so many inter-related issues – health, community development, housing, transportation, water, and beyond – and because the consequences of these issues are so profound to individual and community life. The President’s Commission on Sustainable Development found that such conflicts “increasingly are exceeding the capacity of institutions, processes, and mechanisms to resolve them. Adversarial administrative, legal, and political processes … typically stress points of conflict, dividing communities and neighbors. What is usually missing from the process is a mechanism to enable the many stakeholders to work together to identify common goals, values, and areas of interest through vigorous and open public discussion.” Sustainable solutions, then, require overcoming the barriers of fragmented knowledge and governance – the disconnections within and among science and government. We will focus on case studies in three EU countries – Germany, Luxembourg, and Northern Ireland (UK) – that are confronting these challenges through collaborative planning and conflict resolution.

APPLICATIONS: VT students can apply to the course through the Education Abroad Office/OIRED. UVA students should contact Dr. Frank Dukes for further information on the UVA course admissions process.

Want to learn more? Check out the website!