IHP Cities in the 21st Century: People, Planning, and Politics (Spring)

2011 New York City, USA Letter Home

By Trustees Fellow Melanie Brubaker with input from Emma Riccardi, Lily Saporta-Tagiuri, Collin Jones, and David Tomporowski.

Students gather to watch the State of the Union Address

Thirty five students buzzed around the reception room of The International House, their nervous energy bouncing off the walls as they shared names and interests, starting to laugh and make connections. Over the next two weeks in New York City, students and faculty dived into challenging and complex dynamics of a bustling city and building the academic and interpersonal foundations of this learning and traveling international experience.

Right away the predominant sense of the group was one of warmth, openness and incredible curiosity.  During the two weeks, friendships continued to develop.  Describing the New York program, Emma Riccardi says, “In just two weeks, it already felt like we’d been together much longer. I was able to immediately connect with everyone, sharing stories and joking around.” The group’s inquisitive nature extended beyond social interactions.

Students ask difficult questions to guest lecturer Tom Angotti from Hunter College of CUNY

In the first few days of programming, students were introduced to New York City and to the IHP model of learning.  In meetings with guest speakers, we learned about the historic and present demographics of NYC, challenges and innovations regarding regional transportation, and issues of space ownership and the “right to space” in the city. Lily Saporta-Tagiuri was “impressed by both the animation of the speakers and by the questions they inspired the group to ask. NYC Department of City Planning’s Joseph Salvo turned quantitative demographics into vivid stories.” The students also met with NYC Commissioner of Transportation Janette Sadik-Khan, whose presentation led us to reconsider the politics behind, and creativity of solutions to New York City’s complicated transportation needs. Speakers were impressed by the student’s questions and analysis of complicated subjects.

In each city, students participate in a Neighborhood Day, when a small group spends an afternoon in a particular area conversing with locals, making observations, creating area maps and exploring urban issues particular to that community. Collin Jones captures the deeper level of engagement with the city from the NYC site visits and Neighborhood Day: “Even though I have been to New York several times the neighborhoods, agencies, and people we were able to visit were totally unfamiliar to me. These encounters were chances to explore a New York outside of Times Square and Manhattan: the non-tourist NY in which the majority of New Yorkers live and work. The communities were amazingly hospitable in helping us see aspects of the city that most visitors do not have the opportunity to witness. Places like Jackson Heights and the Fourth Arts Block now feel familiar and I plan to go back to these neighborhoods that would have otherwise remained distant and foreign.”

David Tomporowski sums up the IHP experience in New York City: “This was a great two week start to the semester. I have learned about New York, gotten to know the group, and I’m looking forward to getting to India.”

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Credits: 16

Duration: Spring, 16 weeks

Program Sites:
USA, Brazil, India, South Africa

Prerequisites: Previous college-level coursework and/or other preparation in urban studies, anthropology, political science, or other related fields is strongly recommended but not required. Learn More...

Student Evaluations

View Student Evaluations for this program:

About the Evaluations (PDF)

Spring 2013 Evaluations


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