The Municipal Land Use Center (MLUC), which provides technical assistance and facilitates access to state, federal and non-governmental resources, has officially begun working with the School of Culture and Society, according to Susan Albertine, dean of the School of Culture and Society.
Although MLUC has been informally involved with the College since 2004, as students have been interning there since then to help MLUC put land in five Central Jersey counties to better use, this is the first time MLUC has formally announced an affiliation with any part of the College, according to the MLUC Web site.
Many might wonder why the School of Culture and Society has been chosen to help with land development.
“I like to tell our new students when we first meet that Culture and Society is deeply interested in what it means to be human and to live in a social world,” Albertine said.
“Much of what we study in the school relates to real-world experience and practice; how people live socially on the earth, in communities, is a compelling question for many faculty and students in the school.”
For example, one of MLUC’s upcoming projects with the School of Culture and Society involves finding a solution to the traffic problem near Exit 8A on the New Jersey Turnpike, Albertine said.
“Over the past decade, (Exit 8A) has become the center for large warehouses and distribution centers,” Albertine said.
“Due to the lack of coordination across municipal boundaries, there are now concerns about future growth in the area and the traffic congestion it is likely to cause. MLUC will be working closely with the municipalities to see what policy recommendations might change the course of future development.”
Albertine said she hopes many students will get involved with MLUC. Currently, a team of 13 students from the College’s department of psychology is studying obesity in Trenton with MLUC, Albertine said.
Many other majors in the School of Culture and Society have programs that could similarly correspond with the goals of MLUC.
Diane Bates, assistant professor of sociology, is currently teaching a course that focuses on the sociology of land development and use and the academic issues that result.
“The affiliation will open up possibilities in many directions for students, faculty and staff,” Albertine said.
Definite plans for the future include four workshops. One of these workshops, “Planning Land Use and Transportation for Transit,” will take place at the College.
Other plans include an electronic library regarding the important issues of MLUC, Albertine said.
Students had a range of reactions to MLUC’s involvement with coursework in the School of Culture and Society, “Personally, I feel that by using resources such as the student body here at the College, MLUC should somehow reflect positively upon our lives as well,” Alexander Seise, freshman journalism/professional writing major, said. “Any smart land use is a good thing and should be welcomed here at (the College).”
Danielle Paterno, freshman psychology major, said she has several questions about the College and MLUC’s relationship.
“I want to know what they plan to do together to better educate us about the local culture and society and how that will help us in future endeavors since we will most likely not be dealing with the municipality of Ewing,” she said.
Paterno said she wants to see the union better publicized “so the students know what they could gain from it.”