Name Raven Anderson
Hometown, New York, New York
Undergraduate school/major Tufts University/English & Spanish
What was your work experience/background before coming to the GSD?
I worked in the communications departments of the Atlantic Philanthropies and the Arthur Ashe Learning Center before taking an AmeriCorps position with the New York City Housing Authority as a resident environmental coordinator. Before enrolling at the GSD I moved to Brazil to work with the Rio de Janeiro state government, coordinating urban environmental initiatives and presentations in the run up to the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainability.
Why did you decide to pursue planning as a career?
I have always been interested in public policy and how it affects the relationship between individuals and their community. I was particularly drawn to situations where this relationship had soured, leading to economic, political, and social disenfranchisement. Ultimately, because of my love for city life and the issues created by widespread urbanization throughout the world, I decided I could have the most meaningful impact by studying urban planning and its potential to improve the lives of urban residents.
What made you decide to come to the GSD?
The GSD’s focus on the intersection of policy and design as it relates to the built environment was very appealing to me. The resources available also impressed me here and through the wider Harvard community.
What are your main interests in planning and concentration area?
I am interested in Housing and International Development planning. Specifically, given the rate of worldwide urban growth, how do we provide adequate living spaces for millions of new urban residents without perpetuating or worsening existing inequalities?
What was your impression of Harvard and the GSD before you came?
Tufts is very close (geographically speaking) to Harvard so I may have come here with a preconception or two. I remember thinking the GSD was a strange looking building. However, countless hours spent in the trays (and my burgeoning architectural sophistication) have made me come to like it very much.
How has your impression changed since coming to the GSD?
I appreciate the exposure to the different disciplines studied at the GSD. Though my own work is more policy focused, seeing the work the architects, landscape architects, and urban designers are involved with has really made me appreciate the impact that design can have.
What has been the most surprising aspect of the GSD?
I am most surprised by how much time I spent at my desk in Gund. Still, the fact that everyone (including professors) spends so much time in the trays creates a really engaging, collaborative atmosphere.
What has been your favorite class or project? Why?
I really enjoyed Markets and Market Failures since it helped me develop an economic framework for evaluating urban policies and interventions. I also took a January Term class called (Re)Mapping Health that opened my eyes to the potential that mapping and spatial analysis techniques have to frame and advance debates about urban issues.
What are your career ambitions?
My goal is to work on housing issues in the developing world. I think the international development community is realizing the importance of dealing with widespread urbanization and addressing the issues of housing, public health, and economic development that this creates. I hope to work for a multilateral development agency, government, NGO, or design firm, whichever allows me to best address this complex and pressing issue.