The initial attraction to UC Berkeley is the CED’s prestigious reputation in the design world. However, what made the Masters in Urban Design program unique was the selective cohort size. With only eleven of us, from widely diverse cultural, social, and professional backgrounds, we formed close bonds with each other and the faculty of the program. As a result, we are a mix of architects, landscape architects, and planners with a common goal of seeking to expand our expertise within our design field to the larger urban context.
Beyond our cohort family, we recognized that the mission and values of the CED program provided a fertile foundation, where we could each sow our design competencies, and grow those skills to serve the greater community. This program went beyond design skills and pushed us to consider our role as urban designers in current global issues; from climate change and rising sea levels to social equity and cultural integration. Our cohort, rich in global identities and experiences in Asia, Africa, Europe, Latin America, and the United States, offered valuable perspectives on ways such issues could be addressed.
Now more than ever, we understand that with every global concern, there is the ability to learn and prosper. While we, along with the university, have adapted to the personal, social, and academic challenges that have accompanied COVID-19, we have recognized this challenge as an opportunity to consider urban design from a pandemic perspective. Beyond current physical distancing, the COVID-19 pandemic will certainly change the way we interact with others, our community, and the built environment. As future urban designers, we must rise to the challenges we are presented with through groundbreaking designs for communities and the built environment, particularly for vulnerable communities who have been most affected.
As this semester comes to a close, we honor Berkeley graduates who are celebrating from afar, and we look forward to our final semester. With the coming months, we will all experience new adjustments. As COVID-19 orders release, we will re-enter a new social climate and at the same time finalize our theses and urban design projects. This has been an undeniably challenging year, in a number of ways we could have never predicted. Despite the limitations of this new virtual experience, we have been watered and fertilized with new perspectives which will continue to strengthen our ideas and skills. The MUD cohort, along with the entire CED, continues to see opportunity in adversity and will adapt design ideas and strategies to better serve communities in this new and ever-changing world.