Four months, thousands of pages and $60 worth of printing later, my first semester of planning school is over.
Really? That’s it?
Not that I was understimulated. Plenty of big assignments kept me up later than my girlfriend would’ve liked. But in the working world, four months isn’t that long—it’s a big project, a new initiative. In grad school, apparently, it’s reason enough to take a month off.
So without any further ado, a few highlights and lowlights from the first semester. Not too many lowlights, though. A few of my professors read this blog.
Most of the time it’s not that hard to kind of forget that I’m a grad student. It often feels like a long, ongoing conference, but without nametags: We hear speakers (sometimes known as professors), have long lunch breaks, do exercises, then retire to the bar at night to talk about all of it.
More similarities: None of our classrooms would be mistaken for hotel conference centers, but a bunch of them are windowless and characterless. People are cordial, but also kind of angling for a job. Everybody’s friendly, and sometimes, people hook up.
Then reality comes crashing down like a pile of books: oh yeah. Exams. We have to take those.
Hey, have you heard we’re all screwed?
Last week Penn hosted the “Reimagining Cities: Urban Design After the Age of Oil” conference. If you were there, or if you read the liveblog of the event, you saw speaker after speaker tell of the doom and gloom facing the planet. Climate change! Carbon emissions! Decaying infrastructure! Nine billion people! In the words of the classical philosopher Shawn Carter, we got 99 problems, but a bitch ain’t one.
Frankly, it’s all a little depressing.
The answer is: “Because people today would rather not work and instead just sit at home collecting welfare checks.”
And the question? If you guessed, “What should you not say in a room full of city planning students?”, congratulations! You win. We would have also accepted, “FDR began a ton of new federal programs during the New Deal. As long as we have a $700 billion financial bailout, what programs would you enact or not enact as part of a New Deal today?” Thanks for playing. We have some lovely parting gifts for you.
This week will be my first full week of classes at MIT; however, I have actually been here for three. I arrived into Cambridge at the end of August to attend the weeklong department orientation, which was as orientations are – full of very important yet-easy-to-forget information. Alone, the pressure of learning nearly 65 names can induce periodic episodes of amnesia.
Just after 2008 began, I realized my profession of choice was dying.
I’d spent the previous seven years at Philadelphia Weekly, a fairly typical alternative newspaper: you know, magazine-style lefty bent, where-to-go-and-what-to-do listings, porn ads in the back. The usual.
With the coming of summer, students finish courses, faculty head off to do research, and practitioners think about vacations. However, for those interested in keeping up to date with academic issues in planning, a number of bloggists provide useful insights into the politics and hot issues in planning education. For students they are a window into the work of educators and for practicing planners they are an easy way to keep up to date with what’s happening in the schools.
Information Strategies for Answering Fundamental Planning Questions
In universities in the northern hemisphere, April and May are months for completing work and moving closer to graduation. Assignments are due. Exams are looming. Students are too tired to write well and professors are too tired to notice. In the crunch for time, enterprising students look to the power of new information and communication technologies to reach out beyond their harried contexts to experts who can help them answer important questions. If Paul Davidoff (now dead) had email, they reason, he would have been happy to respond.