urban studies

Alumni Profile: David Pereira, MUrb

November 24, 2011
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When David Pereira returned to SFU to embark on his Master’s Degree in Urban Studies, he knew he wanted to make a positive difference in his community. Having worked previously for the City of Burnaby, David found that the best way to make an impact was through local and regional government. Passionate about issues of environmental conservation and livability, David’s research took him to realize the importance of strategic growth.

But it was his cross-interest in politics that made Urban Studies a great fit. “The Urban Studies Program gave me the flexibility to study an issue rooted in planning and policy, but also the freedom to reach into the nitty gritty of politics. That’s what makes this stuff exciting — planning doesn’t occur in a vacuum, it’s reactive to people, and politics — it’s all around us!”

His research project, titled “The Intersection of Town Centre planning and politics: Alternative development in an inner suburban municipality in the Metro Vancouver Region” was right up his alley, exploring strategic planning in Burnaby, a suburb to the east of Vancouver.

“At first, I felt uneasy studying a suburban issue in a program soaked with issues unique to major cities like Vancouver, but the faculty turned out to be very supportive,” David recalls. But he didn’t just receive academic encouragement — David was helped along by two financial awards, one from his program, and the other titled the Doug Drummond Fellowship, an award bestowed upon graduate students studying issues related to the city where the university’s main campus is located.

As it turns out, David’s research has received significant interest from others as well. Gordon Price, a former Vancouver city councillor, and currently Director of SFU’s City Program, invited David to participate in a Philosopher’s Café on Metrotown, an event that led to a presentation to TransLink and a live studio interview on CBC Radio’s Early Edition.

David mentions that he wouldn’t hesitate to do it all over again. Having also volunteered on the Senate Graduate Studies Committee, a body responsible for delegating on a wide range of university graduate affairs, David sees the experience as highly beneficial to his professional development. “Working with senior university administration was very gratifying, giving me a whole new appreciation for the complex decisions behind graduate education.”

David was particularly fond of his experience on the Appeals Subcommittee. “Looking at all aspects of a sensitive issue, and arriving at a decision regarding my peers with university faculty at my side, treating my voice as an equal, was a great opportunity.”

What does the future hold for David? “University trains you not to practice a specific profession, but to be a continuous learner, be adaptable, and make a real contribution to society. I want to find out what makes cities tick, and from that, find effective ways to enhance livability while preserving the natural environment for future generations.”

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