I am excited about my double major in Urban Ecology/Planning and Gender Studies. I just declared my majors this month, and I have only taken introductory courses for each subject. I have a strong interest for both majors, however my foundations regarding these backgrounds are very weak. Entering Urban Ecology, I was incredibly excited. I had just finished Radical Cities by Justin McGuirk before my introductory class with Professor Goldsmith, and it really fired me up-in a good way. I found myself interested reading about leftist movements in Latin America which converted old, corporate, and failed buildings and land into accessible and attractive housing for indigenous and working class populations. Further research showed me that urban planning theory can be incorporated into improving the condition of refugee camps. I took in how evil the field can be: policies have been created to further gentrification and modern segregation in poor neighborhoods, and zoning has helped perpetuate environmental racism and food deserts.
All of this research and excitement did little to prepare me for my second City and Metropolitan Planning class, where I realized that I did not have a fundamental understanding of what urban planning in Utah was. I had immense difficulty drawing a map of my neighborhood from memory, I had no idea how to use ArcGIS or ArcMaps, I didn’t know about city policies, laws, and enforcement, and I was ignorant of the fantastic green and sustainable movements which were happening locally. This second class introduced many new concepts to me. We were taught how to write a formal letter to the mayor as a planner, where to keep updated with the zoning practices in this city, and how to engage in City Council meetings (think about what happens in a typical town hall meeting with Leslie Knope). More importantly, we were taught how to speak out against zoning policies that harm specific populations and benefit others. Although I gained a huge sum of knowledge, I also realized that my writing skills are sub-par, and I have a lot to do in order to catch up with my peers in this major.
As for Gender Studies, I excelled in my introductory class, however I immediately understood that my comprehension of feminist and literary theories is lacking. I cannot write too heavily about theory or movements, and my vocabulary is not academic enough. Although I did well, I knew that I would struggle in upper division courses if I did not take action to educate myself.
SO. This summer I am taking two courses, and I am dedicating every ounce of energy to learning and absorbing and writing in these classes:
- Urban Environmental Planning and Theory (3100)
- Gender and Sexuality in International Literature (5760)
The first class will provide me with a basic foundation, theory, and further knowledge. The second is going to (and honestly, already is) kick my ass. We are reading all of my favorite authors, however I do not have practice in writing about literary theory, post-colonialism, and feminist literature. This class is all about critical thinking, creative writing, and heavy analysis. I love it so far, but it is intimidating to be the youngest in the class, to obviously not be as developed academically as the other students.
This blog will be dedicated to me writing in depth about the authors and theories we are reading, and drawing in different themes in order to prepare for my big research paper due in a month. Hopefully, this will be supplemental and will motivate me to really sharpen my skills with every field I am lacking in!