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Department of Urban & Regional Planning hosts virtual Dale Prize Colloquium

By Elizabeth Casillas, Mar. 9,2021

The Department of Urban & Regional Planning at Cal Poly Pomona hosted the yearly Dale Prize event on March 2 to recognize planning excellence. The 2021 Dale Prize theme was public planning in a pandemic and how public health and urban planning can strengthen the collaboration between health professionals and planners during the pandemic.

The event was attended by 226 participants, and both awardees presented their work and research virtually including CPP urban & regional planning students.

Department Chair Gwen Urey hopes this event allowed students to interact with members of the industry who have field experience.

“The colloquium provides an opportunity for engagement around emerging topics in planning, emphasizing interactions among scholars and practitioners,” said Urey. “The rest of the Dale Prize program brings our awardees into our classes affording opportunities for interaction between tonight’s speakers and urban and regional planning students.”

This year’s Dale Prize had two awards which were a $5,000 award to a Dale Prize scholar and $5,000 to a Dale Prize practitioner.

The practitioner award went to Miguel Angel Vazquez, an urban regional planner at the Riverside University Health System.

Vazquez has worked in planning and public health for the past decades in the private, public and military sectors. He emphasizes environmental justice by organizing trash abatement community events and kickstarting environmental justice policies.

“I was brought in to work on a grant funded by the California Endowment and one of the areas was Eastern Coachella Valley, and they have significant environmental health issues, and many other issues,” said Vazquez. “That is how I really got to be involved in a cross-sectional work with different communities and organizations including those that specifically work on environmental justice.”

Much of Vazquez’ current work revolves around social determinants for health, promoting diversity in planning leadership roles and developing an equity policy guide for the American Psychological Association.

“What I’m working on right now is on devising a score for individuals to see how much they understand, how much they agree with and how much they advocate for in terms of equity in urban planning,” said Vazquez. “I don’t know if you’ve taken those personality tests, but it would be similar to that.”

Nisha Botcheway, associate dean of academic programs and associate professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology, received this year’s Scholar Award. Botcheway holds two graduate degrees in planning and public health, reflecting the theme of the 2021 Dale Prize.

“I am honored to be the recipient of the Dale Prize, and perhaps most importantly because it brings attention to this area of planning in the pandemic around social justice and health,” said Botcheway.

She co-authored “Health Impact Assessment in the United States,” along with numerous articles ranging from topics of public health to planning as well as been a keynote at public health and planning conferences. Her research involves health and the environment, community engagement and health equity.

“Planning is about collective decision making,” said Botcheway. “What this means is that planning is intended to understand and include the collective in the decisions that are made and thus the outcomes that are realized.”

The colloquium was held virtually this year, but Urey hopes next years’ event is in person, providing more interaction between students and awardees.

Interim Dean of the College of Environmental Design Lauren Weiss Bricker highlighted how important the interaction between speakers and students were during these times.

“It’s so important that we could hear these ideas, that our students heard from both (speakers),” said Bricker. “It was a positive way of looking at things. Solution-based approaches are so important particularly now when we are so burdened by the loss of dear ones.”

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