Yesterday I had my first official thesis meeting with my advisor, Barbara Parmenter. She’s great; she really helped me talk through my ideas and identify the next steps, as well as advising me on a manageable scope for the project. Here is what I’m thinking right now:
I’m interested in two general themes: college towns (like Amherst, where I grew up) and land use conflicts involving neighborhood opposition to a project. Such conflicts are often pejoratively called “NIMBYism”, but pejorative terms are dumb, so I won’t be using that name very much. Finally, I’m interested in studying how these conflicts can be resolved positively.
Last fall I did a big project on town-gown relations in general, and I think that overview will be a part of my thesis literature review as well. However, I am interested in more specifically land use conflicts, and even though I am focusing on college towns, I would be open to including conflicts that do not directly include the university.
Maybe my interests are best described by highlighting cases of neighborhood opposition in Amherst that have inspired me. I want to research other examples of similar cases, and find out if there’s anything that can be done to resolve them so that everyone is happy.
- the Gateway District
- the solar project on the old Amherst landfill
- the solar/agriculture project at UMass
- the Butternut Farm affordable housing complex
- the general feeling that student houses in residential neighborhoods are a bad thing
So, for now, I’m going to start my literature review by researching land use conflicts in college towns. The specific direction of my topic is still somewhat up in the air, but that’s what I’m thinking.