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Emily Paul

MCRP ’21

What got you interested in planning?

I received my undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia in Urban and Environmental Planning and Spanish. UVA’s urban planning major is housed within the School of Architecture; I chose it because I was interested in how the built environment impacts so much of our lives. Coming from a small rural area in Ohio that doesn’t have planning like metropolitan areas do, I realized that this was a fascinating field to create healthier and happier communities. After graduation, I ended up working for a healthcare consulting firm in DC. Through that work and pro bono consulting in the community, I realized that I wanted to further explore how city and regional planning can shape the social determinants of health through the built and natural environments – that’s why I came to UNC for the dual degree.

What’s your favorite project that you’ve worked on?

I greatly enjoyed the Site Planning project from Professor Andrew Whittemore‘s class. It’s the first project that has a really cohesive view of planning from so many different aspects; it was also a wonderful opportunity to be creative and try out new skills. It also gives you an appreciation for planning at a local and site-specific scale.

What future goals do you have for your specialization?

I hope that our specialization will pivot toward a greater emphasis on environmental planning, mitigating climate change, and environmental justice. Land use planning has a long tradition within planning but one that is fraught with injustice. Our specialization needs to recognize the historical harms and work toward combating climate change in new and innovative ways.