Does food matter in neighborhood design? Should it? The answers to these questions are complicated and obscured by decades of perplexing policy and practice. There are many benefits of good food – that is, food which is healthy, affordable, fair, and sustainable. Proper nourishment has been linked in several studies to better classroom performance. Walkable access to healthy food can reduce America’s growing obesity and diabetes epidemics. Locally-sourced food can reinforce better dietary habits as consumers connect with the value chain and see eating as a more natural process.
The benefits are straightforward, but do most American neighborhoods actually support healthy food access?
The Department of City and Regional Planning at UC Berkeley has a rather arduous process for advancing to candidacy in the PhD program. It essentially consists of 6 parts:
Take all the required courses
Produce an inside field statement – a sort of literature review and synthesis explaining the niche within urban planning in which you will be positioning your dissertation research
Complete an outside field – sort of like what a minor was in college
Take an inside field written exam
Produce a defensible dissertation prospectus
Take an oral comprehensive exam covering your inside field, your outside field, general planning theory and history, and finally presenting your prospectus.
Whew. Lots to do this year. The good news is I am currently wrapping up my inside field statement and preparing to take the inside field exam. My topic is generally around complexity theory in urban planning. Here is the working abstract from my statement:
Our paper on collecting and analyzing U.S. housing rental markets through Craigslist rental listings has been accepted for publication by the Journal of Planning Education and Research. Check out the article here. This map of rental listings in the contiguous U.S. is divided into quintiles by rent per square foot: