Graduate Student Spotlight: Eliza Bower, MA Community Planning, Policy and Design

Eliza Bower says the changes she’s seen since her Freshman year at the College of Charleston – increased development, population, and traffic – are extensive. Charleston is not the only city facing these issues, and Eliza sees the college’s new Master’s program, Community Planning, Policy and Design (CPAD), as the perfect foundation to study potential solutions.

After graduating from the college’s Historic Preservation and Community Planning program in 2015, Eliza moved home to Baltimore for a gap year, or two, before grad school. She returned to the South in the fall of 2017 as one of the first graduate students accepted into the CPAD program, and says she was drawn to the program because of its small size, familiar location, and reputable professors. Interested in the “social issues” of developing cities, she wanted to study urban planning in a historic setting. “I’m interested in affordable, urban housing and how to make the urban fabric more cohesive and fluid in order to create a more diverse community.”

In between classes, research, and waiting tables, Eliza works as an intern at the Office of Sustainability, where she is researching different modes of transportation within the college community. Her Master’s thesis will examine the infrastructure for college commuters, and the development of systems that allow for safer biking and walking, and easier commutes to campus.

The college’s seventh annual Sustainability Week kicks off on Monday, April 9, and culminates with a street fair on Friday the 13. Eliza is working to build an “upcycled” outdoor living space on George street for the street fair in order to “give the street back to the students and community.” A variety of activities and events will take place throughout the week including a social justice coffee hour with a panel of experts, food trucks, and performances in the Cistern featuring music, poetry, and art. Eliza has been slowly collecting materials for her project including discarded packing pallets and industrial materials. “I’ve been dumpster diving,” she laughs.

Halfway through her first year in the CPAD program, Eliza has enjoyed getting feedback from experts in the field including Allen Davis, the Director of Civic Design for the city of Charleston. In February, Eliza traveled to Florida with her colleagues and CPAD Director, Dr. R. Grant Gilmore III, to the Seaside Prize conference, which honors leaders in contemporary urban development and education. Looking ahead, Eliza says she is looking forward to continuing her research and completing her Masters in the spring of 2019.

(Article provided by: Amy Mercer, Program Administrator/Intern Coordinator, HPCP and CPAD Programs)


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