I am currently in my second year, studying Urban Studies and Equity Studies at the University of Toronto, and am considering pursuing a career in Urban Studies. I am not too sure whether this is the right sort of area for me though. Although as a child - elementary/middle school - I was facinated with maps and city planning (from Sim City), I lost interest in High School, so its interesting how its gone full circle, now that I am reconsidering this area. The reason I went into Urban Studies was because of my interest and concern in urban issues like homelessness, urban poverty, and environmental racism. Another reason is my politics, I subscribe to anarchism, specifically some of the ideas produced by Murray Bookchin (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murray_Bookchin). A major conflict within in Anarchist thought is whether anarchism could exist under urban spatial circumstances; Bookchin argues that it could, as long as cities are decentralized institutionally, more straight forward, and physically, a bit more difficult. He does not provide specific details on physical decentralization however, and that is why I took up Urban Studies, to hopefully apply anarchist thought to urban theory/planning. I don't want to go straight into teaching however, and would like to actually work in the area of planning, at least at first. My goals as a planner would be to a) short term - make the city a kinder, healthier, more friendly place (I know that sounds pretty vague), b) long term - contribute to reorganizing our phyiscal space to prepare for transition to an anarchist society. The question is, could I apply equity with urban planning, and help people with this profession? I was speaking to a friend of mine who shares similar politics, and she expressed dismay about how conservative this profession is; is this true? Does anyone know anything about Colin Ward or Clyde Weaver? They are anarchist planners, but I haven't been able to obtain any of their books on planning.
Also, as an INFP (Meyers Brigg's Typology), I guess I am pretty good with conflict resolution, dealing with people (as long as they don't step past my boundaries), and also speak Cantonese and Mandarin (I grew up in Hong Kong), but I am not too good with math. I don't have too much experience with GIS and other technical Urban Planning skills either, as my background is not geography. Is urban planning math intensive? Any other advice you guys would give me?
Sorry about all these questions. Thanks.
I also forgot to ask, would my politics hurt my job prospects? I already turned down a nomination for appointment as International Secretary of an Ontario-base anarchist organization I work with, because of time and possible impact on jobs (I will continue to work, just don't want a high-profile position). I want to either work in public-sector or non-profit. Some people think its hypocritical to work for the government, but as Noam Chomsky said, using a Brazilian rural workers' movement analogy, "they say that they must expand the floor of the cage, until the point when they can break the bars. At times, that even requires defense of the cage against even worse predators outside". I don't see anything wrong with the state and trying to work within it to further decentralize power and to reshape society towards a more equitable form, while recognizing its inherent flaws.
Ok, I've gone a bit off topic. I've expressed this concern with Career Counselors at school, but I don't think they understand. They just assume I mean the NDP or something.