Bloustein School reaches 20-year milestone
Although the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy turned 20 years old at the start of this academic year, its staff and faculty will be celebrating all year long.
The school will commemorate past achievements through a series of monthly presentations designed to raise awareness of the different faculty research projects, said Karyn Olsen, director of Communications at Bloustein School.
“We really need to showcase our faculty. The work that they’re doing directly affects the careers that students plan on entering,” Olsen said. “It’s crucial for students to understand that what their professors are researching is influencing current public policy.”
The Bloustein School’s graduate urban planning program is ranked third in the nation, according to Planetizen 2012 Guide to Graduate Urban Planning Programs.
Although the Bloustein School was created two decades ago, the programs currently available to its students originated long before the school itself, said James Hughes, the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy dean.
“This year is really special because it’s not only the 20th anniversary of the school itself, but there are also a lot of other important anniversaries that we’re celebrating this year,” Hughes said.
The undergraduate urban planning program is celebrating its 65th anniversary this year, while the graduate urban planning program is also celebrating its 45th anniversary, Hughes said.
Yearlong events include alumni panel discussions, where former Bloustein School students return to share with current students their work experiences and the practical applications of what they learned while at the University, Olsen said.
“All of these small events we’re hosting are all leading up to this one large symposium we’re holding in April,” Olsen said.
The Symposium on Planning Healthy, Sustainable Communities will focus on the topic of sustainable communities and will bring together all of the different aspects of the Bloustein School, she said.
The intent behind the symposium is to approach the issue of sustainable communities from three different tracks: livability and environment; society and community; and economic competitiveness with workforce development, she said.
“All of the different institutions from the school will fall under one of those three categories and will be used when considering how to create a sustainable community,” Olsen said.
The Bloustein School incorporated approximately five research centers and institutes since its creation — a number that has now grown to 18, Hughes said.
“The school’s expansion is self-generated,” Hughes said. “The school provides the state with well-educated and equipped public workers. In return, the state provides the school with funding that can be used to fuel research projects.”
Stephanie Curenton, an Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy assistant professor, who has given faculty research presentations this month, said the opportunity was useful for the students and her colleagues as well as herself.
Curenton said the events are a positive way to celebrate the school’s 20th anniversary because they allow opportunities for the community and the rest of the University to get to know the Bloustein School better.
“The presentation allowed me to interact with the rest of the faculty and the students in a way that I would otherwise be unable to,” she said. “I got a lot of good feedback.”