12 December 2011

Research update

The first semester of grad school is complete! Two papers were produced, one on participatory budgeting in Peru, and the other on the economy of my hometown and whether it is truly dependent on the huge military presence there. I was really pleased with the latter paper (as was my prof :) ) and am hoping to submit it to a journal.

So, now that all of that has passed, I am beginning to think more about the urban related topics that I want to dive into deeper than I already have for an actual thesis topic. I am regularly being asked, "What is your research interest?" or "Oh, what area are you focusing on?" My usual answer is something along the lines of where public transit and community cross paths. So, the social aspect of public transit. Still, that is too broad of a research topic.

So, having said that, I am soliciting ideas. I am always writing things down when talking with someone about this. I have a list of potential ideas, and the more I read news, the more I think to myself, "Oh THIS would be neat to look at in a different angle!"

These are potential ideas that I might explore further:
  • Social interactions on public transit in rural vs. urban settings. Less frequent rural transit would mean riders would most likely see each other at the same times on their commutes as opposed to urban riders who have many schedule options and more frequent transit. Does this make for more relationship building? Something along those lines...
  • Do different modes of transit (rail, bus, etc) promote more social interactions?
  • How do varying transit stations or stops build community? What levels of the different types of  interactions (primary, secondary, tertiary) are promoted at different transit stations and stops? How can deeper social interactions be encouraged, producing more 'community'?
  • Look at some cases (if any) where more social interaction/community was created as a result of transit coming in. 
  • I read this article today about sleeping on the subways in New York. VERY fascinating. I think there is possibly something else in this that could be expanded...
I realize all of these are extremely broad areas and anything that I was to write a thesis on would have to be incredibly refined and narrowed. I also fully recognize that 'community' is something that is difficult to measure or quantify. But I am simply in the exploring stage, so any direction would be much appreciated!

Here's a Christmas related photo for inspiration:

Christmas Tree Bicycle 03

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