Good evening All,
I enrolled in an Urban Studies program this Fall as a transfer student. Here is my story...
It all began about four years ago. I was searching for a career that I believed would be a "perfect" fit for myself. After two wonderful years studying online, I earned my Associate's Degree in Geographic Information Systems. I learned so much and such a wonderful staff and faculty. Very great learning opportunities for sure. (If anyone may be seeking for an online program in GIS, please respond to this thread and I would be glad to recommend you to the program that I completed my Associate's degree.)
During my time in those studies, I was privileged to apply some of my GIS skills in an internship. This experience made a major impact in my life. In fact, the next couple years couples with some of the biggest decisions in my life would come from these experiences as an intern.
Upon completing two years and some months with the Transportation Planning organization as an intern (and eventually hired as a full-time staff), I decided that I would like to commit to a Bachelor's degree with a focus in either Urban/Regional Planning, Urban Studies or Geography. As a result of spending my time researching universities around the United States, I decided that I would prefer to reside in the same town to study as the same town I had interned at. To find and potentially create opportunities to continue to network with those in the Planning industry was one of the major factors which helped me in the decision-making process.
Last year (2011) Fall, I learned of a program which is offered in Nashville. After sharing my personal academic and professional experience as well as my academic and career goals with several full-time faculty with Tennessee State University, I decided to enroll within their institution. Although I have only been in classes for couple weeks, I must say that I have enjoyed my time thus far and the content of which I have been exposed to already. The faculty and student body has proven to myself to challenge me in the engagement of being indulged in a challenging, yet a continuous positive atmosphere!
Because the Urban Studies program (offered only as a major) is housed within the School of Public Service and Urban Affairs, other majors include Sociology and Social Work. The Urban Studies major has existed for only three academic years, if I remember correctly. So absolutely a growing program and the addition to new faculty has taken place. They also offer one minor within the School and this is Nonprofit Management and Leadership. I have elected to minor in this content. Since I have a desire to be a Planner in a nonprofit environment, I do believe that this minor will prepare me. One of the most exciting realities about this program is that the University is currently in the process in developing course work which will support a concentration in Urban Planning!! Whoo-hoo!! I am excited about delving into these courses too!
All to say (through my personal testimony) Nashville, Tennessee has been and is continuing to position its communities for success, especially within the context of economic prosperity. Because this city has been preparing to expand its public transportation services to redeveloping its urban design and transportation systems, creating a learning environment within the midst of these positive changes sure boasts for its "city lab" experiences.
While Tennessee State University may not represent a top Urban Studies program with the United States, the enthusiasm and commitment, has most definitely reaffirmed in my mind that there is definitely preparation made and still being made for their Urban Studies program to prepare students to serve in capacities within the local communities of Music City. Thereby, the return-on-investment for the local business world will be seen in the years to come!