Ariella LangAssociate Dean of Academic Affairs, Director of Undergraduate Research and Fellowships, Columbia University
- Columbia University
- United States of America
About Ariella Lang
I am a/an:
Area of Expertise
Channels contributed to:Leadership
Rooms participated in:Columbia University Global Talks Series
Hello! My name is Neely and I am planning to focus on urban sustainability infrastructure in Brussels, Belgium.
This week, I arrived in Brussels and began my work with the urban geography department at Vrije Universiteit Brussel (referred to as VUB). It has been incredibly interesting and fun to get used to a new city - especially through the lens of urban research and community planning. Here, as a newcomer to an entirely new city, it is important to make sure I engage with my surroundings and local project in a respectful and informed way. Given the amount of urban sustainability research occurring in Belgium (and particularly at the university I am working with), I hope to create a nuanced and well-researched project that works with - rather than overlaps or conflicts with - initiatives already occurring.
This week, I have really enjoyed learning about the work from other researchers within the department, which has certainly helped me get a better sense of the Brussels community as I acclimate to my surroundings. In comparison to my previous summer with Laidlaw - which was actually during summer 2020 as I deferred my research last summer to now - it has been interesting to engage with a city that I am completely new to. My previous environmental policy focus has been helpful as I look at urban sustainability and greenspace in Brussels; I have enjoyed comparing Belgian versus American environmental initiatives. Here, I am eager to apply a narrower focus to specific sustainability projects rather than wide-sweeping policy.
Glad to hear you're getting settled in Brussels! I look forward to hearing more about your sustainability project, and what we in NYC can learn from the very different urban context that Brussels represents!
Week one: As you set out on your research or community engagement project, do you find yourself experiencing any worries or insecurities about saying something that’s already been said? How do we as researchers and/or volunteers learn to address or set aside those insecurities or, better yet, to use them to our advantage?
Hi everyone! My name is Faith Andrews-O'Neal. This summer, I am working with Serve the City Paris, a legal NGO in the city doing work helping refugees and unhoused people in Paris. I am working with the organization as a SAVE intern, which means volunteering and attending workshops as well as developing a capstone project (in my case, two or three because I can't pick one!) over the course of your internship.
The idea of saying something that has already been said is of particular interest to me, as my hope in the development of a capstone project is something both original and impactful for a community I do not know much about. This is why I asked if it was an option to take on more than one, as the issues that I care about do not particularly intersect, and the project they recommended for me did not seem to say/do anything more than what has been done. For my first project, I am leading a workshop for other volunteers on the ideas of formations of racial identity within our respective countries. While I only have a larger body of knowledge of the ideas of race in America, I want to facilitate an open space for discussion of identity on a global scale. I am certainly not the first person to discuss this, but I am hoping that for volunteers (particularly those who are not American), I can bring about new viewpoints and a discussion with different perspectives than what they may have previously encountered.
What I am coming to learn through my volunteer work and the work I am doing for my capstone is that it is okay if you are not the first person to bring an idea to the table. In fact, the communities we serve benefit so much more from consistency and continuation than constant inundations of new concepts. Every tuesday, friday, and Saturday, Serve the City distributes food to four to six of the same routes and to the homeless encampments in these areas. As such, although we are not the first person to bring them food that week or even that day, coming back and doing the same things over and over allow the volunteers to develop long term relationships with the communities we serve. I am able to discuss literature and gardening, and see the ways in which people make lives for themselves in spite of their situations. It's not the novelty that makes the work worth doing, but the recognition and acknowledgement that this sameness does much more service.
Hi Faith, I am so glad to hear that you've begun engaging with this project / organization, and I can't wait to hear more!
As you set out on your research or community engagement project, do you find yourself experiencing any worries or insecurities about saying something that’s already been said? How do we as researchers and/or volunteers learn to address or set aside those insecurities or, better yet, to use them to our advantage?
My name is Anna and my topic for this summer is Nuclear Colonialism in the Marshall Islands.
Because of the nature of my topic (Nuclear Colonialism in the Marshall Islands) and the difficulty of finding sources in the topic, I have found the challenge to be less about saying something that has already been said and more about recognizing what Lauren Hirshberg author of Suburban Empire describes as "academic imperialism" (18). Because of the monopolization of information about Marshall Islanders from the perspective of the US military which occupied the islands for nuclear testing and then missile testing from the 60's to 80's, my project has involved trying to weave together different perspectives, sociological, geographical, medical, and historical to honor the under-represented experiences of the Marshall islanders.
In terms of historical perspective, I am thinking of approaching it in 4 different levels : impact of Pacific War on the region, Cold-war containment and nuclear strategy being used to justify exploitation of the region, US occupation, and Marshallese de-colonialization.
One difficulty in the project is the various layers involved (political, philosophical, geographical, scientific) require reading in different fields in order to understand. While this is challenging, it is something that I am enjoying about my topic selection.
Thanks for your post, Anna! I'm curious how you'll connect with the Marshallese diaspora as part of your engagement with these important questions!
What a timely project--I look forward to learning more!
Can't wait to learn about your results, Joachim!
Your description of your project is really accessible--even to non NLP experts. Well done!
This is such an exciting project, Joanne, and I appreciate how you present both theory and practice in the area of philosophy of education.