Note from the CUGS Director, December 2020

What a semester that was! As with Trinity, CUGS managed to cope with the unprecedented conditions of Fall 2020, and that meant several areas of programming went on – virtually – in an effective manner. The Global Vantage Points lecture series featured a set of excellent talks, and attendance via Zoom was above where it typically is for in-person seminars. The Cities Program, with two remote seminar classes, remained a lively forum for 14 outstanding first-year students. CUGS supported several terrific online events with the Connecticut World Affairs Council. The graduate certificate program in Urban Planning kicked off successfully and continues to attract more students, thanks in no small measure to instructors like Prof. Sean Fitzpatrick and Dr. Don Poland. The Urban Studies major is growing larger every month, with 17 seniors, a record-breaking 25 juniors, and already 9 sophomores making it the 10th-largst major at the college presently. Our Kelter Postdoctoral Fellow, Dr. Laura Delgado, successfully began her post-doc (virtually) with a terrific rendition of URST 301: Community Development Strategies.

This is also a season of transitions. We are delighted that Gabby Nelson has been promoted to a new role as Assistant Director of Urban Engaged Learning, and while this now means that only 50% of her position resides with CUGS, we look forward to the stronger collaboration the new role engenders with CHER. Our IIE-SRF visiting fellow over the past two and a half years, Savas Ergul, has moved on to an exciting new research position in Paris, and while we already miss Savas and Safak (Gabby and I were able to share a lovely picnic with them in the back yard of the Office of Study Away), we are waiting patiently for the transition to our next scholar to be possible, once the pandemic eases both here and in her home country. We thank Dr. Yipeng Shen for taking on the task of Director for URST for the past three semesters, as we welcome back Dr. Xiangming Chen to direct the program beginning in January. Dr. Julie Gamble and Dr. Jonathan Elukin hand off the teaching in the Cities program to Dr. Delgado and Dr. David Lukens.

We are already set with another fantastic round of virtual talks in the GVP in January and Spring, along with a slate of new courses or newly revised ones. This includes the first-ever full-credit J-term courses from Dr. Lukens and from me. The Cities Program will have a J-term reading group focused on the spectacular and haunting Hartford novel, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong. Stay tuned for the call for proposals for student research grants alongside the cfp for Davis Projects for Peace. Most of all, we look forward to a spring of emerging hope after this long, dark shadow over us begins to lift.