Roxbury High School students to study urban planning at UMass Boston

UMass Boston Department of Urban Planning and Community Development and the Pre-College Program, in conjunction with the Boston Planning and Development Agency, Boston Public Schools and Madison Park Technical Vocational High School, are launching a new summer immersion program to introduce young people of color in Boston to the many careers desirable public service available within the fields of planning, design and planning.

The overall goal of this initiative is to increase the percentage of planners of color in Boston from 5.75% to 24% over the next fifteen years.

“As Boston has become one of the most diverse metropolitan areas in the country, people of color are significantly underrepresented in the planning and design professions in our region,” said Ken Redon, professor and director of the Department of Urban Planning and Community Development. “UMass Boston’s recently launched summer planning program at Madison Park Technical Vocational High School in Roxbury reflects our campus’ commitment to addressing this issue.”

Students participating in the 2022 Urban Planning Summer Program will dedicate twenty hours per week throughout July to enhance their understanding of the critical role urban planners play in researching and designing strategies to mitigate the impact of heat overwhelming on local communities.

Using mobile heat sensors and smart phones, these high school students will work with UMass Boston urban planning students and faculty to measure indoor and outdoor air temperatures in schools, agencies service providers, area businesses, housing complexes and parks in their Roxbury communities to locate and map urban heat islands, where extreme temperatures threaten public health. Students will receive a weekly stipend of $200 in recognition of their contribution to this important community research effort.

Students will then collaborate with Roxbury residents and city leaders as well as city planners and climatologists to design viable strategies to address this often overlooked dimension of climate change. The student program will include a boat tour of coastal adaptation sites via the UMass Boston research vessel, M/V Columbia Point, a walking tour of the Rose Kennedy Greenway led by planners from Boston Planning and Development Agency, an engineering design class at the Boston Museum of Science, and an introduction to ongoing legislative debate regarding the Green New Deal at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the US Senate.

The program will conclude with a presentation of the students’ “Keep Roxbury Cool Plan” to city leaders, city planners and elected officials in the area on Thursday, July 28 at 7 p.m. in the Harborview Room at the center of the UMass campus.

Students who complete this program will have the opportunity to enroll, tuition-free, in two UMass Boston urban planning courses in the upcoming academic year. At the end of these courses, they will be invited to carry out a paid internship of twelve weeks within a large public and/or private urban planning agency during the summer of 2023.

This urban planning summer program is the latest effort of UMass Boston’s Office of Pre-College Programs to expand higher education opportunities for underserved communities. Some of the programs this office manages to achieve this goal include Upward Bound, Talent Search, and Project REACH. The program is open to all sophomores and juniors attending Boston public schools.

Students interested in participating should contact Professor Ken Reardon at kenneth.reardon@umb.edu or 607-275-7402.