After over 30 years of teaching at UEP as a part-time faculty member, Christine Cousineau will transition to full-time lecturer in the fall of 2021. In a recent conversation, Christine reflected on her time at UEP and expressed excitement about adding more student-mentoring activities to her already-full teaching schedule in the newly expanded role.
Christine first joined the UEP department to teach a class on urban design, which has evolved into the Green Urban Design class that she still teaches today. “As often happens, it was almost serendipity. Ken Geiser was teaching at UEP at the time, and I had been a TA for one of his classes at MIT. We had the same vision for what urban planning and design were all about.” When UEP put out an ad to replace Ken for a semester, Christine applied and got the job, teaching her first class at UEP in the fall semester of 1982. After his sabbatical, Ken shifted to research, and Christine continued to teach his original course.
While continuing to teach the urban design class at UEP, Christine was engaged in the urban planning field. Over her career, Christine worked at the City of Boston’s Department of Neighborhood Development (DND), the state’s capital planning agency (DCAMM), architectural and planning firms, in campus planning, and in building affordable housing. Throughout it all, she continued teaching the urban design course at Tufts. “It’s wonderful and reenergizing to look at the bigger picture and to see students learn these things for the first time,” Christine said. “Whether it was examining the historical context of design or a broader topic in planning, teaching brought me more perspective and calm at work, and in turn allowed me to bring practice experience to the classroom.”
Christine is a wealth of deep knowledge and lived experience in almost any aspect of this field. She’s done everything and has read everything.”Andrew Schloss (MA, ’21)
Christine currently teaches four classes at UEP: Green Urban Design, Urban Design and the Changing Suburbs, Field Projects, and Community Engagement. Students in these classes experience the benefits of having a professor with extensive professional planning experience and a passion for history and learning. Second-year MA student Andrew Schloss said, “Christine gives deep, highly-detailed, and very helpful feedback. She spends hours looking at every word and every detail of assignments and won’t return her comments until she is satisfied that she has given you her all.”
Bella Kiser, who is now Christine’s TA for Urban Design and the Changing Suburbs, provided an example of Christine’s thorough feedback on an essay she wrote for Green Urban Design: “I wrote an essay about a path I walked every day in Paris when studying abroad. Christine commented on every detail of the paper. I mentioned how I watched countless stilettos fall victim to the cobble stone court in front of the Église de Saint-Germain-des-Prés and Christine provided me with a detailed graphic on the types of shoes that are most common in different European regions (perhaps something to consider when planning!).”
“Christine puts so much effort into to supporting you as a student, providing statistics, links, resources, and more in her feedback on your projects,” said Becky Eidelman, a second year MA student. Becky has taken three classes with Christine and is now working with her as a TA for this year’s Field Projects course. “Compared with other classes where you think abstractly about what could work, Christine’s classes allow you to think about what on-the-ground interventions would actually look like.” Schloss shared a reflection on working with Christine on his Field Project. “We would chat for hours about our project, all with fun and helpful anecdotes of her experience working as a young architect and hilarious stories about dealing with different stakeholders.” Students cite Christine’s warm demeanor to be just as important to their learning as her technical expertise.
Her knowledge is endless and her passion for urban planning and design is contagious.Bella Kiser (BS/BFA, ’21)
While Christine has held multiple roles at Tufts, including advocating for Tufts’ Part-Time Lecturers’ union, working for the Office of Campus Planning, and for Faculty Affairs in the Arts & Sciences Dean’s office, she’s excited for the new projects and challenges she’ll take on as a full-time faculty member this fall. With an unprecedented number of admitted students in the entering class, Christine will add to UEP faculty’s capacity to support the student advising and the admissions processes. After many years teaching in the department, Christine is set to contribute even further during a time of major growth for UEP.
Image courtesy of Christine Cousineau.