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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

New Graduate Program: Urban Planning and Community Development

The University of Massachusetts Boston welcomes a new Graduate program called Urban Planning and Community Development, along with Ken Reardon, an expert on the subject who worked in New Orleans and Memphis when natural disasters hit those cities. The program here at the University of Massachusetts Boston is to teach students how to do the research to help rebuild an urban community that has been destroyed by natural disaster.

Reardon shared a little bit of his experience in New Orleans. Back in 2005, the original planning committee for the 9th ward said there was no point in rebuilding the neighborhood; that no one wants to come back to their destroyed homes. A couple of preachers and community members came together to have their voices heard and to fight for their neighborhood. This gave Reardon and his team a chance to come in and reevaluate it. Quickly, Reardon and his team found people who were willing to come back to New Orelans if they had a community to come back to. The team did their own research and was able to convince the mayor and everyone else that 9th ward should be rebuilt.

“The skill set that you learn and plan is that every community has a history and every city has policies. Those policies should be put under the best empirical information” said Reardon “Every community faces their challenges. We have to be careful about the future threats to our community because of the climate changes that are happening”

UMass Boston is on the harbor, which has prompted a conversation on sea level rise. The late mayor Tom Menino suggested that UMass Boston get involved in the research necessary to help the city to plan for any natural disaster that may happen, because the rising water level is a current and urgent issue. Reardon’s focus is with natural disasters, and in order to plan accurately and to be prepared for them he feels that a partnership with environmental studies is the best way to achieve those goals.

This program is still brand new to UMass Boston and has only five full-time students and six part-time students. As the program grows and more people find out about it, Reardon hopes to work with at least 20-30 students a year with this graduate program.