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Urban Ecology LEAP Guide: Suggested Research Topics

Suggested Research Topics

Professor Silva has suggested the following topics for your term paper:


1.         SALT LAKE CITY and SOCIAL IDENTITY: What general social identity might come from living in Salt Lake City? Compare and contrast Salt Lake City with other cities the same size in terms of social identity. Who are the local players in the future of Salt Lake City? What changes will the city need to implement in order to sustain itself into the mid 21st century and beyond?


2.         SMALL TOWN UTAH: What social identity is created by living in a small town? If you were born and raised in a small town, what social identity have you adopted? If you moved during your youth to a larger city, what effect did that have on you as an individual? What are the forces shaping small towns of Utah? How does that compare with other small towns across the country? What is the future of small town Utah? What is the future of your small town hometown? Would you go back there to raise your family and why or why not?


3.         CAMPUS LIFE: Does the University of Utah campus function like a city in terms of livability and social development? What are those things the campus has in common with the small and large cities? Can you apply the principles from Lynch to the campus? What are the major paths, nodes, edges, districts and landmarks on campus? Do students generally feel “at home” on campus? 


4.         UNIVERSITY OF UTAH CAMPUS AND CONNECTED NEIGHBORHOODS: How do the neighborhoods directly attached to the campus function so close to campus? How could they function better? What can the campus do to increase the feeling of community between campus and neighborhood? What are the connecting paths, nodes and so on between these neighborhoods and campus?


5.         SALT LAKE CITY DOWNTOWN: Does Salt Lake City’s downtown function well? What are the major paths, nodes, edges, districts and landmarks and how do they function in the city. How well is the city used by pedestrians? How could that be improved. Compare Salt Lake’s downtown with other cities around the valley. What can the application of Lynch tell us about Salt Lake’s present condition and what might be done to improve the downtown?


6.         SUBURBS: What impact has suburbanization had on the Salt Lake valley? How do suburbs effect social identity on those who live in them? How well have new suburbs such as Daybreak succeeded so far? Are Daybreak and future planned communities like it a good thing for the valley?


7.         COMMERCIAL DEVELOPMENT IN THE SALT LAKE VALLEY OR ALONG THE WASATCH FRONT: What is the role of major shopping centers in the Salt Lake valley toward the existing quality of life in the valley? How does that compare nationally? What can be done about this? Is it desirable to bring more focus to the downtown area? How can that be done? What is being done in that regard?


8.         NEIGHBORHOODS: How well do Salt Lake Valley neighborhoods such as Rose Park, Bountiful, North Salt Lake, South Salt Lake, Harvard/Yale, 9th & 9th, Sugar House, Sandy, Draper, West Valley, South Jordan and so on function? How could they function better? How is the development of social identity different between Salt Lake City neighborhoods? What would an analysis of these cities using Lynch yield in terms of making our living environment in the valley better? How can all these neighborhoods be made better? What is being done at the community council level around Salt Lake City for residents? What changes in planning and zoning ordinances do you foresee in order to make our neighborhoods work/function better than they already do?


9.         TRANSPORTATION: What impact has light rail had on the Salt Lake Valley? Where is it going next? What impact will future growth of light rail have? What is the future of highways in Utah and in the Salt Lake Valley? Is the construction of the Legacy Highway a wise thing? If so, why? If not, why? What is the future of bedroom communities like Roy, Layton, Centerville, Toole, Farmington, Draper, Riverton, Harriman and so on? How should they be connected? How will they be connected? What are future transportation plans for Northern Utah’s communities? What is the future of the car and fossil fuels in Utah?


10.       CITY CREEK CENTER: What is City Creek Center and what are its goals? Who lives there? How well do you think it functions? How have like minded center city developments across the country worked so far? Is Salt Lake anything like Denver? What is happening right now in Denver’s redevelopment that is like City Creek Center? What kinds of projects being done there (or in any other city) could we do here in Salt Lake City?


11.       MIXED USE DEVELOPMENT: What is being done with the development principle of mixed use in the Salt Lake Valley? How could that be done and where? What is the future of mixed use in Salt Lake? What is being done with mixed use across the country? What is being done in other western cities like Phoenix, Denver, Boise, Las Vegas, St. George?


12.       GROWTH & UTAH VITAL SIGNS: How much growth can the Wasatch Front (between say Ogden and Provo) tolerate? How much water is generated each year by the Wasatch water shed? How much do humans use each year? What level of pollution can we continue to tolerate in the valley? If more people come to the valley, where will they live? How will they live? How should they live?


13.       URBAN AND SUBURBAN UTAH SUSTAINABLITY: What are the implications of growth overall in Utah? Will Utah be able to sustain the current level of growth? Would Utah be able to sustain itself when the oil runs out? What is happening in the Utah renewable energy arena? Do we have enough land in the state of Utah to raise the food necessary to sustain Utah cities? How will that land need to be treated? Is that different that how it is currently being treated? What alternate sources of energy are viable for Utah’s future? Wind power? Nuclear energy? Coal? Geothermal energy? Another future dam on the upper Colorado River?


14.       END OF SUBURBIA, PEAK OIL IN UTAH: What are the implications of the end of cheap oil in Utah? Who will live here and how? Will Utah continue to enjoy the financial rewards of tourism in the northern mountains and in Southern Utah? What are the implications to cities like Park City, Heber, Logan, Provo, Moab, St. George, Kanab?


15.       BIOPHILIC CITIES: How will the natural environment be integrated into future urban design and planning projects. Current biophilic city design in the United States and around the world. The psychological, sociological and behavioral implications of green cities where nature is fully integrated into their urban cores. Could Salt Lake City be a biophilic city, and if so, how?


16.       THE ECONOMICS OF CLIMATE CHANGE: Is it possible to create viable green technologies? What are the business possibilities in developing green technologies such as renewable energy resources, building more efficient urban centers, more efficient urban housing, public and private transportation, non-fossil fuels, carbon zero buildings, clean and efficient food production that is fossil fuel free production, and other future environmentally friendly business possibilities?


17.       SPECIAL TOPIC: You are encouraged to develop a topic of your own, based on essential urban planning topics covered in class during the semester, or a topic influenced by materials discussed during the semester. This must be reviewed with and approved by Professor Silva during the first month of classes.

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