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Senior Theses and Projects

2016/17 Senior Thesis Deadlines, Requirements, Expectations, and Past Projects

Seniors who plan to complete a thesis or project in Urban Studies need to enroll in a one-unit course (URBS 300a and 301b) spread over two semesters. Although the thesis or project is optional for majors, completion is required to be considered for program honors at graduation. Listed below are the deadlines for major components of the thesis or project. In addition, you will find the guidelines and procedures associated with each step of the thesis process. Also note that previous theses and projects are available for view in the library collection (after signing in to the library system). 

Note: All materials are due at 1:00pm on the dates below. Except for the official thesis proposal–which requires signatures on the title page and thus should be submitted by hand to our program office in OLB 210–submit all materials by e-mail to our administrative assistant, Alison Mateer,, with documents attached as .doc or .pdf files, saved as last name and due date, such as:  Smith_09-19-12. Students should take the initiative in contacting thesis/project advisors and scheduling meetings for personal feedback. Deadlines are monitored by the URBS steering committee and failure to meet them will affect the grade.

I. Thesis and Project Deadlines

Monday, August 29, 2016
One-page description of the thesis or project topic, including a brief note on how it is relevant to your major URBS interests.

Monday, Sept. 12, 2016
Welcoming reception for majors, correlates and thesis graders with pizza and refreshments to discuss the URBS major, majors committee, upcoming events, and the senior thesis or project.

Monday, Sept. 26, 2016
Official thesis or project proposal due, signed by two advisers – normally at least one should be a participating faculty member of Urban Studies (see list on the last page). Leave the original signed copy in OLB 211 and e-mail an electronic copy to Alison Mateer at almateer@vassar.

Monday, Oct. 24, 2016
One thesis chapter and outline (or the equivalent for a project) are due; advisers should return comments and be available for discussion by the end of classes.

Monday, Jan. 30, 2017
Please submit another chapter to your adviser.

Friday, March 10, 2017
First draft of thesis or project is due; advisers should return comments and be available for discussion before Spring Break.

Friday, April 28, 2017
Final version of thesis or project due; e-mail your work as an attachment to

Thursday, May 11, 2017 Thesis and project presentations, 10 a.m. to 1 pm. Given time constraints, your presentation may last no more than 10 minutes – focus narrowly on your main question or hypothesis, the most important empirical evidence, your primary argument or interpretation, and the final conclusions you can draw. Time goes surprisingly fast, so practice your timing beforehand!

2016 Theses & Projects

  • Huong Dinh.  “Synergistic Space: Re-investigating Main Street, Poughkeepsie at Street Level”
  • Jonathan Hong. “The 421-a Tax Abatement Program: Affordable Housing Policy and its Effect on characterizing Brooklyn Communities”
  • Destin McMurry. “Hands on the Street:  The Rise of Creative Placemaking and Everyday Tactics in Poughkeepsie, NY”
  • Christian Phelps. “Public Parks From Where And For Whom?  Settler Colonialism and the “Progressive” Erasure of Native Spaces in Madison, WI” 
  • Niccolo Porcello. “Affective Masculinites and Suburban Identities: Nu-Metal as Reflexive Art”
  • Jonah Williams. “Planning, Policy and the Use of Bike Share Programs in Montréal and New York City”

2015 Theses & Projects

  • Emma Bird.  "Grand Illusion:  A Critical Appraisal of Paris’s Divisive Makeover"
  • Kiran Chapman. "Urban Growth and the Slum:  Analyzing Redevelopment Through Tri-Sector Networks"
  • Peter Eccles.  "Can You Get There From Here?  Creating a User-Friendly Mobility Experience for Dutchess County"
  • Emma Foley.  "From Emergency Shelters to Housing First:  Rethinking Solutions to Urban Homelessness"
  • Simon Hardt.  "Paradise Is Not a Dream:  The Evolution Of The New Urbanism In Florida"
  • Susie Martinez.  "Home Base:  Race and Identity in a Gentrifying South Bronx"
  • Brett Merriam.  "A World in Itself:  The University, the College Center, and the Fantasy Aesthetic of Heterotopia"
  • Kevin Ritter. "Performing the Great Queer Hope"
  • Jiajing Sun.  "Chinese Historic Preservation:  Historic districts under contemporary redevelopment"
  • Uriel Walker.  "Down the shore everything’s all right: Cultural restructurings in greater New York’s coastal leisure sites"

2014 Theses & Projects

  • Emma Carter. “Perennial Tensions in NYC Community Gardens: An Analysis of New York City’s Greenthumb Program”
  • Isabel Deixel. “Shifting Gears: Approaches to Bicycle Activism in New York City”
  • Lauren Stamm. “Deconstructing the Dual City: Preservation and Tourism in La Habana Vieja”
  • Isaac Lindy. “It’s Not Little Senegal”: The Tactical Redefinition of the Senegalese Ethnic Enclave In Gentrified Harlem, New York” 
  • Andrea Sherman. “Uniting Discourses of Sustainability and the Social Environment: Modeling Connections Between Seemingly Disparate Fields”
  • Katharine George. “Living with Historic Preservation: A Study of the Past as it is Remembered in the Present by Three Case Studies in the City of Poughkeepsie, New York”
  • Edyth Jostol. “The Enduring Change of Temporary Use: The Effect of Creative Placemaking in Cleveland”
  • Julia Maltby. “Conceptions of Race in Higher Education: How Colleges and Universities’ Injurious Relations with Predominantly Black Localities Exacerbate White Students’ Racial Biases”
  • Carlos Hernandez Tellez. “Harvesting Resilience: Developing the design of a food hub through the adaptive reuse of the abandoned Poughkeepsie Underwear Factory building”
  • Philip Durniak. “Which Time Is It?  Multi-Temporality and the Illegibility of the Vassar Campus”
  • Riley Gold. “The Figure of the Artist in Creative Class Urbanism”
  • Ian Leidner. “The Brooklyn Waterfront: Building for a Resilient and Sustainable Future”
  • Claire Summers. “Policy Transfer and the Global City Dilemma”
  • Elizabeth Tepler. “Healing Architecture: Unraveling the Spatial Problematic of the Emergency Room Waiting Area through Tactical Urbanistic Intervention”
  • Logan Woodruff. “Tactical Urban Interventions in the Neoliberal City”

2013 Theses & Projects

  • Celia Castellan. “In the Business of Change: Food Hubs, Entrepreneurialism, and the Politics of Devolution”
  • Michelle Dingsun. “A Field Guide to Urbanism: Portland, Oregon Edition”
  • Devin Griffin. “Move It Along: The Social-Spatial Imaginaries of Urban Spaces and the Exclusion of Homeless Populations”
  • Nicholas Korody. “Drifting through Occupied Architectures: Confining Necessity and Apophenic Resistance”
  • Matthew Kramer. “Night Light: 1000 Luminary Balloons in Sunset Lake”
  • Julia McGill. “Sue Terre”
  • Marissa Reilly. “Ecological Atonement in Fresh Kills: From Landfill to Landscapes”
  • Mariesa Samba. “The Great Divergence in the Suburbs: Suburban Poverty and Second-Class Citizenship”
  • Priscilla Sevilla. “Towards an Understanding of Marginality: Race and Class Relations in the Villas Miserias of Buenos Aires" 
  • Noah Zaccaglini. “Architecture as Instruction: Paradigmatic Interventions in the Favelas of Rio de Janeiro”

2012 Theses & Projects

  • Nicholas Burrell. “The Future is your Choice: Art, Urbanism, and Activism in the (Post)Industrial City”
  • Emily Dunuwila. “No School Left Behind: The Power of School-Community Partnership”
  • Cassie Hackel. “Take Me to the River: An Examination of Two Hudson Valley riverfront parks in the context of urban revitalization”
  • Assefash Makonnen. “A Womanist Approach to Urban Development on 125th Street: Making the Case for the Unmarked”
  • William Mann. “The Landscape of Industrial Spectacle: Reviving Public Interest in Production”
  • Sam Stolman-Smouha. “What does sustainability mean in Hunts Point, the Bronx?”
  • Allison Tilden. “On the Beat: A survey of surveillance in Brooklyn, NY”
  • Pamela Vogel. “Exploring Indentity Zones: A Case Study in Urban After-School Space and Black Masculinity”
  • Amanda Wigen. “Route 9 Urbanism: Animating the Architecture of Consumption”
  • Zachary Zeilman. “Reimagining the Industrial Landscape through Adaptive Reuse: Comparative Case Studies from New York and the Ruhr Valley”