Student Q&A: Jonathan Goldman (MUP ’15)

Jonathan GoldmanHometown New York City

Undergraduate school/major Yale / Psychology

What was your work experience/background before coming to the GSD?

2 years at the Times Square Alliance business improvement district.

1 year of assorted urbanist jobs in urban agriculture, parks management research, and real estate research.

1 year at a real estate technology startup.

Why did you decide to pursue planning as a career?

I knew that I would never be bored or uninterested as long as I was working to better understand cities, and to build cities that better serve people’s needs. I like the combination of public-good mission with a tangible physical impact.

What made you decide to come to the GSD?

The high level of intellectual discourse at the open house, both from professors and prospective students, and an excellent financial aid package.

What are your main interests in planning and concentration area?

Climate change planning, information and communication technologies, economic development, and affordable housing, in that order.  My concentration is environmental planning.

What was your impression of Harvard and the GSD before you came?

That there was a strong design approach, and that the planning program was on a positive trajectory, improving in faculty and reputation over the past decade.

Are you involved in any student groups? What have you gained from the experience?

The Community Development Project was a great forum for meeting Kennedy School students and work with a real community outside the Boston area. The MUP Student Recruitment Committee has been a great way to help guide prospective students through the difficult grad school application/decision process.

What has been your favorite class or project? Why?

I loved parts of second semester studio, like getting to hold a community meeting with churchgoers and soup kitchen guests in Chelsea, and elaborating our economic development strategy. I also loved Land Use and Environmental Law class, which was a fun and stimulating foundation for so much of what planners do, and the Spatial Models for Social and Environmental Policy class, in which I delved deep into GIS and spatial statistics to explore relationships between social vulnerability and flood risk.

What did you do over the summer? How did that add to your education and goals?

I worked in the Waterfront Division at the NYC Department of City Planning. It allowed me to apply my mapping, visualization, and policy analysis to a real-world problem, at a professional level. I also had time to teach myself new skills and research a tremendous amount related to sea level rise and flood risk in NYC. I also got to experience what the employees and work are like within the department, and I was very impressed. Importantly, I made many connections that will hopefully be useful after graduation.

What are your career ambitions?

Whatever I do, I want to constantly challenge myself, and constantly work to build neighborhoods and cities that allow people to be safe, healthy, productive, and happy. I hope to begin my post-GSD career working on climate change planning, probably coastal flood resilience, with an eye towards equity.