UEP/Friedman Student Tessa Salzman Reflects on Geography 2050 Conference

I attended the Geography 2050 Conference of the American Geographical Society on Thursday and Friday November 19th and 20th in New York City as an attendee ready to learn and be exposed to more new material than I initially expected. Through the lens of geography I expanded my understanding of how planning extends into the international scope. Some of the most compelling sessions for me were related to immigration and demographic trends. Ms. Nisha Agarwall, the commissioner of NYC Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs described their work to improve the quality of life and protection of all immigrants. Their innovative programs work to de-stigmatize certain support mechanisms, such as free municipal ID cards, by making it appeal to all residents whether or not they’re foreign-born. Another concept that was new to me and presented by Ms. Claudia Juech of the Rockefeller Foundation was work to improve poverty and economic marginalization through remote work and online education. They proposed these technologies would create a virtual geography by 2050 internationally and nationally, and the zip code may begin to be less implicative in quality of life. The conference provided a globally-based perspective on planning, in contrast to the classes I have been in that are very much focused locally in community organizing and city-level politics. Overall, it lifted planning up as an even broader field than I had imagined before.