Urban and Regional Planning Personal Statement
Urban Geography is something I have always been interested in. I have watched the world around me, fascinated by how the physical and social environment is constantly changing. Having lived in many cities over the years, I have always tried to experience fully what each city has to offer, not only physically, but socially, culturally, and economically. Changes in our environment effect us all, and in a rapidly evolving world, this is an issue which has never been more prevalent. Environmental issues, such as sustainable development, are at the forefront of public debate, and one has never been more exposed to the way in which the physical space around us is modifying and diversifying. I feel that both my natural curiosity, and my direct exposure to many growing urban environments, has fostered my desire to study urban environments and urbanisation at degree level.
I have graduated with a 2:1 Honours degree in Geography, and it was within this area that my interest in urban geography was heightened and developed. Over the four year duration of the course, a number of facets of physical and human geography were studied, but urban studies was instantly the area of study which captured my attention, and the area in which I could see myself pursing further education, and a career in. In my second year of study, I was involved in a group project which we chose to focus on gender and the urban environment, studying women’s fears within our city, which was undertaken as part of a Geography of Development module.
As was compulsory, my third year of study was an off campus year, which I used to further explore my interest in urban studies. Whilst on work placement for the City Council, I experience first hand the workings of a civil service office, and the local government sector in which many qualified urban geographers work, a sector in which I could see myself furthering my professional career in. I also completed a University placement in the United States, in which I chose to study a Urban and Regional Planning module. This allowed me to build upon the knowledge I had already gained, and gain new knowledge on the urban environment and the planning system in the United States. I also undertook a fieldtrip to a US state as part of this course, allowing me to study and analyse a completely different and diverse urban environment than would have been possible at home. On completion of this module, I obtained an A grade, and was also placed on the Dean's List at the University for academic excellence.
It was in my final year of university that I focused on my desire to work in the area of urban studies, completing an Urban Geography and Planning Module, and choosing to undertake my academic thesis research in the area of Urban Social Change. This allowed me to spend the majority of my academic year studying and comparing urban social change in two Irish cities over a fifteen year period. This study allowed me see these cities in a new light, putting my study into practice. I completely immersed myself in my work, thoroughly enjoying learning about the city I lived in, and how it had, and was continually, changing. A large focus within this thesis was on Urban Regeneration, which I hope to build upon through the specialised modules offered in the Urban and Regional Planning programme at the University of Westminster. This experience cemented my passion for this area of study and left me with a volume of work I am extremely proud of.
Since graduate study in obtaining a Master’s degree is an important step in my professional life, I do not want to compromise on the quality of my education. In account of that I have researched urban planning courses in various universities, and have no doubt that the excellent academic reputation of The University of Westminster, as well as its commitment to ethnic and cultural diversity, would be the most beneficial environment in which to further my studies. What better place to study Urban and Regional Planning than in the most diverse urban Universities, in one of the most Metropolitan cities, in the world! I feel that this course, with its focus on society, diversity and planning, as well as attention to pressing current issues in the modern environment such as land-use and sustainable development, offers the best route to gaining practical knowledge and invaluable skills which will allow me to pursue a professional career in urban planning.
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Article by TSR User on Thursday 15 February 2018
University of California – Berkeley – Urban Planning Graduate Program Sample Essay
The late afternoon sunshine seeped through the cracks in the garage as I situated myself among piles of boxes, old clothes and a heap of power-tools. It was my sophomore year in college at UC — San Diego, and I had come home for the weekend to find some newspaper articles for a paper on downtown redevelopment for my urban studies class. Shuffling through the piles of clippings, I found one of the articles I had been searching for. The edges were bent, and the newspaper had faded to an ivory-yellow, but the headline still boldly read: “A Last Farewell to Donnelly’s.” Donnelly’s was the bar my grandfather owned in Iowa City for 40 years until the mid 1970s, when a downtown redevelopment project forced the bar to be shut down. To those who frequented it, the bar was more than a place to go to relax on a Saturday evening. It was a citizen of the city — as important a part of the community as anyone who lived there. I knew then, staring at the worn photograph and article, that planning was my passion.
As a history major and an urban studies and planning minor at UCSD, I began to learn about the history and theory of cities. In addition, I took many classes relating to the growth and change of cities and communities through time. Specifically, a course on the history of Los Angeles and another on San Diego community research inspired my imagination about the impact that a planner can have on a community.
After graduating from UCSD, I knew that there was more to learn. I took an internship working on community planning in La Jolla, California. Ever since then, I have been working with a planner from the neighborhood, coordinating a task force of community members to address traffic and safety issues. Our goal was to identify the principal traffic issues in the neighborhood and design a plan for Main Street. Our plan utilizes traffic-calming techniques to create a safer and more pedestrian-oriented area. This internship has provided me with real-world experience that I could not have acquired in any of my courses at UCSD, along with the opportunity to take a project from the planning stages to construction.
From my experiences during my undergraduate years and subsequently in La Jolla, I have found that my main field of interest revolves around the built environment. Understanding the relationship between the built environment and land use plays a critical role in the design process. The historical legacy of buildings — as well as their inherent character — is often overlooked in the desire to renovate and revitalize an area. I believe there is a way to design a built environment that incorporates new development while preserving the history and character of the city or community. I envision myself playing an important role in shaping cities and communities, and I look forward to the opportunity to provide the expertise that helps bridge differing interests and fields.
The Master of Planning program at Berkeley will provide me with the knowledge I seek to bring my goals to fruition. Moreover, the specific concentrations within the program will allow me the opportunity to pursue my own research interests. The link between land use planning and the built environment is one I am eager to pursue. I look forward to the opportunity at Berkeley to work with an outside client, conduct research, and develop a plan.
I often think back to the day in my family’s garage when I discovered the article on my grandfather’s old bar. Donnelly’s reminds me that buildings and the structure of communities are worth much more than the bricks and mortar that make them up. They are the fabric of our history, linking the past to the present and the present to the future. It is my hope that I can help weave that fabric and that the Master of Planning program at Berkeley will give me the skills to do so.