Every semester, the School of Design Strategies (at Parsons) encourages the creative and professional development of graduate students through a Graduate Student Travel Fund. The Travel Fund was created to cushion the economic burden of travel to support graduate students’ pursuit of development opportunities.

We are proud to announce that the Parsons Deans Council has awarded three students (two from the MS in Design and Urban Ecologies and one from the MA in Theories of Urban Practice) with a travel grant for their thesis research!

Francisco Miranda (TUP) is traveling to the province of Espinar in Cusco (Peru) where he will be researching into the connections between extractive economies, urban democracy and the right to the city. He is interested in understanding and proposing solutions for the problems that surround the huge (new) influx of money that mining brings into the country; its uneven distribution and its cultural and urban impact. He will be interviewing government officials, mining representatives and Andean communities (comunidades campesinas). Francisco believes that the negative byproducts of these types of economies (displacement, social conflict, environmental disasters, etc.) should empower the communities that are directly affected by them into exercising their right to the city, demanding to have a say on what happens in the cities they live in (or live nearby) and how the money is applied and distributed.

Sruti Penumetsa (DUE) is traveling to Delhi (India) where she will be focusing on development induced displacement and the consequent transformation of socio-spatial configurations in the city. As Sruti points out, the aspect of internal displacement has been embedded in the way the cities have been planned during the colonization period in India. Today, millions of people belonging to the most vulnerable communities are being displaced and forced out of their habitats to make way for development. Considering the current proposal of smart cities in India, the socio spatial inequalities will be intensified, and it is necessary to research, study and understand the phenomenon of internal displacement. The parameters of this phenomena is very different in a third world nation like India when compared with its developed or developing counterparts in other parts of the world. Through her work, Sruti intends to highlight on the historical narrative of state corroborated planning which  seeks resettlement as a blanket solution for displacement and the consequences of this system, specifically the aspect of spatial temporality that is attributed to such a solution.

Michaela Kramer (DUE) is traveling to Germany where she will deepen her thesis work on the potential for a reparational approach to urban design in response to the residual effects of slavery and subsequent systems of racial discrimination that have manifested in American cities. An important theme in her work is the role of memorial and its ability to provoke new dialogues about painful or shameful histories. The more successful of these are sometimes called “counter-monuments”. They work to engage the viewer in the politics of collective memory. By contrast, traditional monuments either privilege the histories and victories of dominant groups or present a static version of past events that relieve the viewer of implication. During her study, Michaela wants to ask: how does the monument’s design call on the participation of the viewer; when and how does it fall short? What is the relationship between the memorial and its surrounding environment? Michaela will expand an account of memorial in her thesis work to inform her design strategy for reparational space. Moreover, the inclusion of memorial into scholarship on reparations, which tends to be policy and economics driven, will account more appropriately for the place-based quality of racial difference.