I was lucky to be a Visiting Scholar at U.C. Berkeley’s Institute for Urban and Regional Development (IURD) from January to June of 2018 and wanted to share some of my great experiences there. I am an assistant professor in the Department of Health Sciences at DePaul University in Chicago, and was looking for somewhere to spend part of my sabbatical year that would compliment my interests in global health and urban development. IURD immediately appealed to me because of their interdisciplinary approach, their commitment to urban equity, and their Center for Globally Healthy Cities directed by Jason Coburn.
As a Visiting Scholar I had access to U.C. Berkeley’s amazing library collection, including individual libraries for almost every discipline at the University. I was also able to audit any class I was interested in during the Spring semester I was there. I decided to audit a course offered in the School of Public Health about the history of the FDA and drug development. This course, which was taught by a researcher at the FDA and included visiting lectures almost every week from the biotech industry in the San Francisco Bay Area, provided accessible, in-depth insight into a complicated field.
The Institute itself provides room for all visiting scholars to conduct research, as well as an instant community of researchers with overlapping scholarly interests. Lunch seminars, informal meetings and the general warmth and congeniality of the Institute created a fantastic working environment. That camaraderie coupled with Berkeley’s café culture occasionally made it hard to focus work itself!
However, I was able to use the time at the Institute to finish working on a project I had been researching on participatory democracy and health in Brazil, as well as to make new contacts that will help me begin new work on comparative health outcomes in some of Brazil’s cities poorer neighborhoods. I highly recommend IURD for any interested scholars, and feel lucky myself to have been a part of its community.
- Jessica Jerome