Cohort of New Students Joins BUCPUA at Virtual Spring Orientation

(Boston, MA 1/21/21) Incoming BUCPUA program graduate students come together for a class picture over Zoom. (Photo by Dr. Madhu Dutta-Koehler)

On Thursday, January 21st, BUCPUA hosted its second fully virtual orientation session in program history. At the hour-long event, Director Dr. Madhu Dutta-Koehler and Program Manager Andrea Ciminelli were joined by a small cohort of new graduate students via Zoom for an official introduction to the CPUA community and its resources.

The Spring 2021 orientation session mirrored the format of the Fall 2020 session, which was also held on Zoom to accommodate COVID-19 safety protocols. “Congratulations and welcome to the program,” Dr. Dutta-Koehler told the group at the start of the event. “We are absolutely delighted to have all of you.” 

Dr. Dutta-Koehler then moved on to a broad overview of the CPUA program and its history. The program was started in 1976 and is now home to about 100 students, with international students making up one quarter of the student body. Housed at the BU Metropolitan College, the CPUA program offers two graduate degrees, a Masters in City Planning and a Masters in Urban Affairs. It also offers a Bachelor of Science in Urban Affairs, as well as two graduate certificates in Urban Policy & Planning and Applied Sustainability. 

One of BUCPUA’s biggest strengths is its people, according to Dr. Dutta-Koehler. “Really the backbone shall we say of our program is our extraordinary community,” Dr. Dutta-Koehler said, adding that program faculty are “so well-connected” and alumni are scattered across the globe. “We really pride ourselves on being a community first and being able to connect with each other with great ease.”

The application of knowledge gained in the classroom is another key facet of the CPUA community. “In our program, we are very much about ‘why does this learning matter?’” Dr. Dutta-Koehler said. “We really privilege practice and application and innovation above all else.”

Program Manager Andrea Ciminelli followed Dr. Dutta-Koehler’s introduction with a review of BU’s COVID-19 testing protocols for students visiting campus and the Learn from Anywhere system, which provides students with flexible options for attending class both in-person and remotely. Ciminelli also introduced the professional development opportunities available to students, including a website with job search tips. 

Dr. Dutta-Koehler wrapped up the logistics portion of the orientation session by reminding the group of important communications channels and academic advising resources.

Next, two current CPUA student representatives introduced the Urban Planning Association, a student-led organization that offers advice on classes, hosts discussions about relevant city planning topics, and holds monthly meetings and celebratory events.

The orientation session concluded with show-and-tell introductions. Each virtual attendee, including program leadership and faculty, took turns introducing themselves to the group and sharing a meaningful everyday object in their possession. At a time of physical and social separation, “we would love to get a glimpse into your world and your environment,” Dr. Dutta-Koehler said at the start of the day’s events. 

Before they parted ways, the attendees shared a diverse selection of objects, including plants, bicycles, and a camera.

Like Fall 2020, the Spring 2021 semester will undoubtedly present unique challenges and opportunities for overcoming them. The BUCPUA community is excited to welcome its new cohort of students and looks forward to everything they will accomplish in the months ahead.

Emanne Khan, CAS ’23