SPPUA in Action | January 2016
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Dear friends,
The School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs is moving into the new year with momentum. Our faculty continues to lead in their fields, conducting solution-oriented research and challenging our students in ways that help them leverage the power of theory and data with experiences gained through engagement with the communities around us. And in return, our talented students’ lasting commitment to become both thought leaders and change makers not only brings about solutions to a wide range of social, economic and environmental challenges in these communities, but also enlivens the School.
In this new year, I invite you to discover the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs – our innovative programs, cutting-edge research centers, prominent scholars, determined students, and accomplished alumni who have become the latest wave of leaders in the public, private and nonprofit sectors.
In this issue, you will learn about Professor Christopher Bosso’s research around food policy through a project that promotes local sourcing of food for the university and engages an undergraduate student to conduct practical research with the goal of determining key strategies to improve Northeastern’s dining services, which is among a select group of institutions working together to change the larger food system within which they operate.
You learn how MURP alumna Sandra Larson is using the knowledge she acquired in her classes every day as an urban journalist, and you hear directly from one of our graduate students about her experiences studying in Amsterdam for a semester.
Finally, I encourage you to learn more about our School community at our Open House on January 16. You’ll meet faculty, current students and alumni. And I invite you to stay current with our news and accomplishments by visiting our website regularly and following us on Facebook and Twitter.
I wish you and your loved ones a very happy and prosperous new year.
Matthias Ruth
Director and Professor, School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs

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December in Pictures

Faculty Spotlight: Professor Bosso partners with Northeastern Dining Services to serve sustainable food

Northeastern became Boston’s first education institution to join the Real Food Challenge when it pledged in 2013 to purchase at least 20 percent of its food from local, sustainable sources by 2020. Now a School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs professor has teamed up with the Dining Services to identify opportunities for the university to partner with local food sources.
Professor Christopher Bosso and Mau­reen Tim­mons, director of dining services, were awarded a $5,000 planning grant from the Kendall Foundation to work with a student to research other institutions and determine ways to increase Northeastern’s local food sources. That research will serve as the basis of a preliminary report for a larger grant to employ a full-time co-op student who would then identify new emerging food businesses in the area, according to Bosso. Read more.

Get to Know

Sandra Larson, MURP Alum, Spring 2015, Freelance Journalist

Sandra Larson, a freelance journalist and regular contributor to the Bay State Banner, says she uses her knowledge from her Master’s in Urban and Regional Policy (MURP) classes and projects every day as an urban journalist.
“I am now contemplating my next career move, which may be to seek additional opportunities as a writer to focus specifically on policy, or to shift into policy advocacy or program coordination or program evaluation for a mission-driven nonprofit or agency,” said Larson who graduated last May. “My interests seem to coalesce at the intersection of policy and social work, and I’m certain that having this master’s degree will help me qualify for jobs that suit my goals.” Read more.

Guest Column: Reflections on a gezellig semester in Amsterdam

By Lauren Costello, student in the Urban and Regional Policy program graduating in May 2016

So I’ve been tasked with talking about my experience as a graduate exchange student in Amsterdam. What have I learned? What did I bring back with me to Boston? Having just arrived back home, I am asking myself this same question with or without the writing prompt. Thinking about this over the past month, it turns out I view my answer to this question in a few different layers. Read more.


Catherine Tumber, senior research associate for the Dukakis Center for Regional and Urban Policy, was invited to participate in a workshop on historic preservation in legacy cities, hosted by Columbia University’s American Assembly at Rutgers University-Newark on Dec. 8, and attended an evening event launching the Preservation Rightsizing Network’s Action Agenda.
“To be effective, historic preservation works differently in cities with shrinking populations and dire fiscal conditions,” said the author of Small, Gritty, and Green: The Promise of America’s Smaller Industrial Cities in a Low-Carbon World (MIT, 2012). “It is far more complicated to do this work in cities where private investment is limited and extensive demolition is often necessary to stabilize neighborhoods whose housing and commercial buildings are beyond repair.”
Tumber is pictured here at the Action Agenda launch event with Bernice Radle of Buffalo’s Young Preservationists, and City of Buffalo planner Chris Hawley. Photo by David Torke.

Imagine Boston 2030. That’s what we will be doing this semester at the Myra Kraft Open Classroom, a free seminar series open to students, staff, and the general public. Spurred by the city of Boston’s Imagine Boston 2030 initiative, which is developing Boston’s first comprehensive master plan since 1965, the series will focus on “Shaping Boston’s Future: Aspirations, Opportunities, and Challenges.” Speakers will include several city officials and consultants working on the Imagine Boston 2030 initiative and related city initiatives focusing on such issues as housing, transportation, and the arts as well as notable civic leaders, local scholars, and state officials.

David Luberoff, a visiting professor of practice at the School who also is senior project advisor for the Boston Area Research Initiative at Harvard University’s Radcliffe Institute for Advance Study, will lead the series. He will be assisted by Professor Barry Bluestone, who initiated the Open Classroom.

Sessions will be held on Wednesdays, from 6 to 8 p.m. in West Village F, room 20. The series kicks off Jan. 13. Visit our website for the course schedule and directions. We will live stream every session on our YouTube channel. Tell us what you think by using #OCNEU and #SPPUA on Facebook and Twitter.

Watch Video – Imagine Boston 2030: What does 2030 look like to you?

Faculty Focus

Congratulations to Lori Gardinier, associate teaching professor and director of the Human Services Program, on winning the 2015-16 College of Social Sciences and Humanities Outstanding Teaching Awards.
"With this award, the committee recognizes the high-quality learning opportunities Professor Gardinier provides for her students inside and outside the classroom; her commitment to fostering social change agents; and her reflective, ethically grounded approach to local and global community engagement," the committee wrote.

Faculty member Alicia Sasser Modestino and affiliate professor Brian Helmuth were recognized for their contributions to their fields. Sasser Modestino was recently appointed to the board of directors of the Massachusetts Housing Partnership, a public nonprofit organization that seeks to increase the supply of affordable housing in the state, and Helmuth was sworn in as a member of the National Sea Grant Advisory Board, a congressionally mandated Fed­eral Advisory Com­mittee appointed by the Undersecretary of Commerce for Oceans and the Atmosphere.

The Dukakis Center for Regional and Urban Policy has published two crucial reports: The Greater Boston Housing Report Card 2015 and Meeting the Commonwealth’s Workforce Needs: Occupational Projections and Vocational Education.

In the Media

The faculty and staff at the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs continue to be reliable sources of expertise on current pressing issues. Click here for a list of articles during the month of December that reference our knowledgeable staff and their research.

Quote of the Month

Upcoming Events

Join School representatives to learn more about our professional master’s programs, graduate certificates, and research centers and labs at our Open House on Saturday, Jan. 16, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., 310 Renaissance Park. The event will feature panel sessions with current students, alumni and faculty. Lunch will be provided.

SPPUA Detective – Do you know where this is?

If you know the answer, send your name and location of the subject in the photo to Your name will appear in the forthcoming newsletter!
Last month’s photo was of a poster in the School’s office suite in Renaissance Park.
Do you have what it takes to become a detective and stump the SPPUA community? We are looking for mystery photo submissions for the SPPUA Detective series. Email your mystery photos to Be sure to include the location of the image in the photograph.

The Northeastern Way

Our graduate policy programs create leaders through experiential learning, research and education.

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Northeastern University School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs · 310 Renaissance Park · Boston, MA 02115 · USA

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