Urban Future Lab highlighted as a model of experiential learning.
(October 14, 2019) — Dr. Antonio Petrov, Associate Professor in the College of Architecture, Construction and Planning and Founder of the Urban Future Lab, is one of five faculty invited to serve on UTSA’s new Community-Based Research, Sustainable Partnerships, & Advocacy Task Force. As part of UTSA President Taylor Eighmy’s new Initiative on Westside Community Partnerships, the task force seeks to incubate advocacy and strategic community partnerships, collaborating with neighborhoods, community leaders, and UTSA faculty to provide scholarly expertise on community-based research and policy issues. Through this initiative, the university “aims to balance campus growth with the preservation of existing community assets—the heritage, artistic legacies, social movements, and strong neighborhood identity that shape San Antonio’s Westside,” said Eighmy.
Dr. Petrov’s invitation to serve on the new task force builds on his engagement in San Antonio’s communities, his previous service on UTSA’s Student Success Task Force, which is one of President Eighmy’s first Presidential Initiatives, and projects he and his students developed in the Urban Future Lab. Under the umbrella of transportation, infrastructure, urban design, and hybrid community engagement, culminating in what they term “creative public-interest engineering,” the spectrum of projects ranges from large-scale urban interventions like a vision for the SA airport 2068 and the implementation of a $250-million hybrid infrastructure and multi-modal transportation system along Broadway, to community-based research like the Southside Pilot. In focus, however, are the rapidly changing dynamics of urban futures and how to integrate them into a reciprocal dialogue, providing students and the community a platform to resolve challenges. Key is to find balance between the human and physical environments and how this leads to agency for students and community members, inspiring them to take leadership in shaping and safeguarding the environment. This translates into real-world projects, applied research, and engagement, fostering skills that have proven significant in preparing students for future jobs. This is due to the dedication of UTSA students but the lab has also been able to recruit multi-disciplinary visiting scholars from Cornell University, Universidad Autónoma de Tamaulipas, and Sunmoon University in Korea. As a result, the lab has been highlighted as a model of experiential learning, underscored by its advocacy and responsiveness in community-engagement and the exceptional research and hands-on learning opportunities this creates for students. It became a hub for collaborators of all disciplines, exemplifying the university’s push to create student-centric environments, though which the next generation engages in transformational experiences while impacting the lives of others. Most recently, the lab and the Southside Pilot were featured in UTSA Sombrilla Magazine’s “Experiential Learning” issue, in the article “Think & Do: Students translate community vision into value and aspiration in UTSA’s Urban Future Lab”.
Content retrieved from: http://cacp.utsa.edu/news/petrov-utsa-community-research-sustainable-partnerships-advocacy-taskforce.