Carlos Balsas

Assistant Professor

Department of Geography & Planning

What are you currently working on in the area of public engagement?
I am working with Ms. Hilary Papineau, a faculty adjunct, on growing enrollments in the Urban Studies and Planning major. I am working on getting future MRP Program capstone studios scheduled and funded. I have been engaged and have participated in meetings of the Pine Hills Neighborhood Improvement Group (PHNIG) and Pine Hills Neighborhood Association (PHNA). I have given a public outreach invited talk entitled ‘Town-Gown as Variegated Schmoozing’ to the former, and just this evening I attended a meeting of the latter. In addition, I have participated in meetings of the Rezone Albany project at the Palace and at the Capital South Campus Center (CSCC), both in Albany.


How did you get involved in this work?
I was invited to talk to the Pine Hills Improvement Group and voluntarily participated in the Rezone Albany meetings. The meeting at the Palace was an opportunity to know more about the project’s goals and technical options as well as the major changes it will bring to the city’s revised zoning code. The meeting at CSCC was an opportunity to listen to the consultant responsible for the South End neighborhood urban design charrette and to answer an illustrated design survey, while ranking the most desirable visual preferences and development options for the South End neighborhood.


What is the greatest reward in your publicly engaged work?
To share the passion for great cities and great urban spaces. Usually, I establish symbiotic relationships with many of the community stakeholders I work with and the common results are then visible in specific actions, either the implementation of a new bicycle lane, the completion of a neighborhood revitalization plan, the hosting of a guest speaker, or the coordination of an interest group, or even a new brown bag lunch series to accomplish a specific goal. These goals range from obtaining new insights on ongoing community efforts to establishing collaborative partnerships or new research projects.


What impact has this work had on you? ...on your students? ...on community members?
It has made me a better person. In my classes I am able to bring in specific examples from my own community outreach and research projects and to keep students motivated in the tasks at hand. I am relatively new to the Capital Region and as such I cannot yet assess the impact of my efforts on the community. If needed I could perhaps ask a couple of people who have invited me since my arrival to provide you with their impressions of my impact on their community oriented projects and even on their own academic paths. Visual portrait added below.


What are your future plans for your publicly engaged work?
To find additional public outreach opportunities and to let others know how urban and regional planning can help to make cities and towns simultaneously more livable and viable in the future.



List of topics covered by the students in Urban Community Development:


Selected list of topics covered by the students in Planning Processes, Plans and the Design of Communities:


List of topics covered by the students in Rethinking Global Urbanism and Culture:

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