by Sara Abraham-Oxford
The University of Texas at Arlington’s Student Chapter of WTS (Women’s Transportation Seminar) emphasizes the strength of its networking component as an integral benefit of membership. “One thing we highlight in our orientation meeting is that WTS has a really good networking program from students to professionals and also within the professional level,” says Chapter President Alexandra (Xie) Tracz, a dual masters student in City and Regional Planning and Landscape Architecture.
The chapter recently hosted a panel discussion where professionals shared experiences related to their work, the tools they use, and differences between the nature of work of transportation consultants in the private sector and planners in the public sector. Two of the panelists, Kendall Wendling and Chad Edwards, are School of Urban and Public Affairs Alumni who earned Master of City and Regional Planning degrees. “We really appreciate their help in inspiring our students to pursue a career in transportation and promoting education in planning,” says Dr. Jianling Li, faculty advisor to the student group.
The WTS student chapter, one of several student organizations at SUPA, recently held officer elections for 2014-2015 positions. The elected officers are: President – Kharrolyn Amissah-Aidoo; Vice President – Ayeh Sajjadieh Khajouei; Secretary – Lawrence Agu; and Treasurer – Stephanie Dubinsky.
WTS seeks to support and promote females within the transportation industry through mentorship, networking and professional development. The Greater Dallas/Fort Worth Chapter of WTS, which supports the UT Arlington Student Chapter, offers scholarships to undergraduate and graduate female students. Membership in the student chapter is open to all UT Arlington students.
To connect with the WTS Student Chapter, email President Alexandra (Xie) Tracz.
by Sara Abraham-Oxford
Creating a stronger connection between the academic and professional facets of planning is a primary aim of the Student Planning Association (SPA), one of several active student organizations at the School of Urban and Public Affairs.
Current SPA President and Urban Planning and Public Policy Ph.D. student Reza Sardari says part of the organization’s purpose is to “help our members have a better idea of what will happen when they graduate. We want to link to professional planning situations, for example having city planners talk with us, which will give members ideas of different career paths where planning is used.” Sardari added that the organization also wants to maintain a strong link to academic issues. One way to do that, he says, would be to have faculty talk to the organization about their new research topics, which would be a useful resource for students.
Recent SPA events have included a presentation about the parks planning process by De’Onna Garner, Park Planning Manager at the City of Arlington, and a demonstration of a site analysis. Possible future activities include a photo exhibit focused on city planning issues, a newsletter to share faculty and student research work, and a planning-themed film series.
SPA is supported by the American Planning Association and SPA membership is open to any University of Texas at Arlington student with an interest in planning.
by Sara Abraham-Oxford
School of Urban and Public Affairs Assistant Professor Andrew Whittemore focused on his research of cluster developments and the planning tool used for them, Planned Unit Development (PUD), while on Faculty Development Leave as a guest scholar at UCLA during the fall semester. He notes that historically planners hoped that these developments would allow for denser housing and more affordable housing in the suburbs. He also found that expectations that PUDs would combat suburban sprawl were “overly hopeful,” adding that “it takes a very sophisticated developer with a lot of capital” to implement such developments successfully.
Whittemore used a case study of PUD use in Los Angeles. Planners there hoped to use PUDs to preserve hillsides and promote affordable housing development but they were confronted by neighbors’ fears that the developments would result in substandard housing. The resistance to the developments made them politically and economically unfeasible. Whittemore has submitted an article based on this research to the Journal of Planning History.
He is currently focusing on the use of PUDs in Dallas’ Oak Lawn neighborhood. He found that PUDs were used quite extensively in Texas as they “allowed unique zoning to cater to specific needs.” He is studying Oak Lawn to understand “how PUDs are used, what developers are getting and what the community is getting.” Whittemore is preparing an article on this topic for publication.
In this fast-paced, dynamic keynote, futurist Rebecca Ryan shares:
- Four trends that will rock your community in the years to come
- Why NOW is the moment for action, and
- How smart communities are leveraging these trends and forcing disruptive changes to make their communities more engaging, responsive, and attractive to current and future generations.
Ms. Ryan is an entrepreneur and the founder of Next Generation Consulting. She is the author of ReGENERATION: A Manifesto for America’s Future Leaders and Live First, Work Second: Getting Inside the Head of the Next Generation. She was named 2004 Entrepreneur of the Year by the U.S. Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship and 2006 Communicator of the Year by Women in Communications.
The event takes place on Friday, January 31, 2014, from 5:30-8:30 p.m. in Room 204 of the School of Architecture Building. The event isFREE but a reservation is required due to limited seating. The event begins with a reception at 5:30 p.m. followed by Ms. Ryan’s presentation and a Q&A session. Students, faculty, alumni, professionals and their guests are welcome.
by Joanne Lovito-Nelson
Dr. Michan Conner, assistant professor of Interdisciplinary Studies in the School of Urban and Public Affairs examines the San Fernando Valley secession movement in his article“’These Communities Have the Most to Gain from Valley Cityhood’: Color-Blind Rhetoric of Urban Secession in Los Angeles, 1996–2002″ published by the Journal of Urban History.
He notes, “the history of American suburbanization is marked by efforts by the affluent to draw boundaries that keep disadvantaged people out and tax dollars in, and the campaign for Valley secession partly fits this mold.” Connor goes on to say “the campaign was unique because groups that had previously favored anti-busing and anti-immigration politics were forced to seek allies among the Valley’s fast-growing Latino population.”
Connor argues “as American cities’ budgets grow tighter, suburbs grow more diverse, and competition for resources among cities and neighborhoods grows fiercer, the politics that drove the secession movement will be replayed in metropolitan areas across the country, as affluent communities try to shed fiscal obligations to poorer ones.”
by Sara Abraham-Oxford
Director of Interdisciplinary Studies Dr. Donna Akers’ research focuses on Native American history, aiming to connect the legal and extra-legal historical actions of the U.S. government and its citizens with consequences for Native Americans. She is currently working on an article titled “Decolonizing the Master Narrative: Treaties and Other American Myths” to be published in the spring edition of the Wicazo Sa Review. She says the article discusses how U.S. college-level history text books tell a less-than-truthful version of westward movement without portraying the authenticity of the Native American experience of warfare, taking of land, conquest and exploitation.
Akers, a member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, is also working on a book, Genocide in America: The Destruction of Native Americans by the U.S. Government, to be published in 2014. She has authored two previous books about Choctaw history and culture.
A mainstream narrative in elementary school that contrasted greatly with the history she had learned from family spurred her study of Native American history, Akers recalls. Her Choctaw grandmother’s comment that “we don’t interfere with the stories they tell themselves” also stayed with her and provided additional motivation to pursue graduate school. “I wanted to write about Native American history from an indigenous point of view. Native scholars call this field Decolonization History and it is considered a counter-narrative to mainstream U.S. history,” Akers says.
Akers, who is an Associate Professor in the School of Urban and Public Affairs (SUPA) at UT Arlington in addition to serving as the Director of School’s INTS program, spoke about her research to SUPA’s Ph.D. Colloquium earlier in the semester and presented a lecture titled ‘How to Discover Your Native Roots’ in November as part the University’s Native American Heritage Month.
Dean Barbara Becker weighs in on urban villages in a recent article titled Uneven road to renewal: Fort Worth debates success of urban villages published by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Becker notes that “West Seventh is an example of an urban village done right.” Full Story.
The Arlington Urban Design Center was the focus of a CBS 11 News story. The Center is a partnership between the University of Texas at Arlington’s School of Urban and Public Affairs, School of Architecture, and the City of Arlington, Texas. See video and story.
Brian Guenzel, director of the School’s Institute of Urban Studies, served on the Lamar (Colorado) ULI Advisory Services panel that “made recommendations for changes to the built environment that would encourage people to get out and exercise.” Full story.
by Joanne Lovito-Nelson
Dr. Karabi Bezboruah’s paper “Community Organizing for Health Care: An Analysis of the Process” was published in the Journal of Community Practice, Vol 21.
A blog post discussing Bezboruah’s paper and its relevance notes, “New research from The University of Texas at Arlington presents three ways to overcome common barriers that nonprofits face when building capacity to address community needs.”
The blog post states, “Bezboruah offers three conclusions to overcome the nearly universal barriers of exclusion of low-income individuals, stake-holders’ misaligned ideologies and approaches, and public apathy. And they’re not all that different from previous community-based participatory initiatives.”
The post found on Georgia Nonprofit NOW, a blog from the Georgia Center for Nonprofits, outlines Bezboruah’s conclusions as noted below:
Grassroots identification of the problem: Allowing the service beneficiaries to identify the needs of their community will translate to more appropriately informed results as potential solutions and the organizational processes develop.
Identiﬁcation of community speciﬁc solutions through collaborative discussions: With the leadership of a facilitator and the inclusion of all stake-holders — community members, service providers, public officials, and beneficiaries — in the development of goals and objectives, consensus can be achieved, creating more holistic solutions to the community-identified issues.
Building public buy-in: Advocacy is an essential piece of nonprofits’ responsibility in their communities (and even more broadly for more universal issues). Through the “use of community resources to educate the public and generate opinion about the critical problems faced by the community,” awareness and support can be built among stake-holders and the general public alike.