Exploring the Community and Environmental Planning Major with Senior Jon Hansel

Jon smiles outside in on Glassboro Town Square.

Today we feature senior Jonathan Hansel (he/him) from Burlington County. Jon is majoring in Community and Environmental Planning and pursuing a master’s in Urban and Regional Planning through Rowan’s 4+1 program. Here, he discusses the importance of planning, his personal aspirations, and the opportunities he’s found in the program. Could you tell us a little […]

In Case You Missed It: Favorite Classes At Rowan

Tell us a little about what the class is. IMC goes over all the parts to an integrated marketing communications plan, such as advertising, public relations, direct marketing, digital/internet marketing, sales promotion and personal selling. You really get to work a lot of different muscles within the communications industry. Is there anything else that made […]

My Favorite Class: Fundamentals of Geographical Information Systems (GIS)

Khrissy inside Engineering building

This story is a part of the “My Favorite Class” series.

Khrissy Seay is a recent graduate and first-generation college student. While at Rowan, she was a Geographical Information Systems (GIS) major with minors in Geography and Planning. She is from Mays Landing (Atlantic County) and transferred from Atlantic Cape Community College.

What was the name of your favorite class at Rowan? 

This is not an easy question. I really like my major and narrowing it down to just one is very difficult. However, by a very small margin, Fundamentals of GIS.

What department was the class in? 

Department of Geography, Planning, and Sustainability (GPS)

Who taught the class when you took it?

Dr. Ashley York

Khrissy standing next to a tree outside on campus.

Tell us a little about what the class is.

Fundamentals is the next step up from the introductory course. This class allows the student a little more freedom to explore new tools and apply them to topics of choice.

Share with us a few details on why this class was interesting or special to you. 

I bonded with the professor and the students really well. I also worked on one of my favorite mapping projects during my time at Rowan.

What makes this professor great? 

Dr. York is very knowledgeable and she is always willing to help. I told her my idea for the project, and she helped me develop that idea. I also worked with her during my Senior Seminar project (taught by Dr. Meenar) because she is somewhat of an expert in the topic — sea ice/glaciers.

Khrissy inside the Engineering bridge.

How did this class help to support your academic or personal growth, or your professional goals? 

I learned a lot about myself and the topics that are really important to me. I also felt well prepared for the next class in the sequence – Applications of GIS.

What are your professional goals? 

I have recently secured a job as a GIS Analyst. I also want to pursue a master’s degree in Geography.

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Story by:
Caitlyn Dickinson, senior public relations and advertising major

Photos by:
Joe Gentempo, senior art major

TRANSFERmation Tuesday: Environmental and Sustainability Studies JoAnna Contarino

JoAnna standing in between a a tree.

Today we feature first-generation college student and recent December 2020 graduate JoAnna Contarino from Elk Township, NJ (Burlington County). JoAnna is a Environmental & Sustainability Studies major and transfer from Rowan College of South Jersey. She has minors in Ethics, Planning, Political Science and a Certificate of Undergraduate Study in Environmental Policy & Economics. Tell […]

Stop Amazon Priming, Start Planning

Wideshot of the front of bunch hall

It’s so easy to Amazon Prime your way into debt, especially as a new adult who may be living away from home for the first time, managing a credit card for the first time or spending to self-medicate to feel better about homesickness or a breakup. 

Stop Priming, start planning. Make sure your freshman chooses wisely how to spend that hard-earned cash — namely, by teaching them to understand the difference between wants and needs. 

Sit down with your Rowan student, ideally before they start their college career, and talk to them candidly about money. Grab a piece of paper — let’s do it old school, Mom and Dad — and create two columns: wants and needs. 

Whether you’re funding your freshman’s living situation or they’re paying their own way, these conversations are important. At the top of the page, make a note of how much money your student has to spend each month, from savings, a current job or a gift from you. On the left side of the paper, write in big ol’ capital letters: NEEDS. On the right, WANTS. 

You might want more paper…

That daily habit of a venti white chocolate mocha at Starbucks is over $30 a week. Everyone’s finances are different, so for your family this might be fine … or it might not be. Maybe your student’s budget is $50 per week and they’re perfectly happy to live in white chocolate mocha bliss and cut back in other ways (or maybe they think that you’re a softie and if they blow their budget on Starbucks you’ll bail them out).

Until it’s in black and white on that piece of paper and talked about with you, wants/needs and expectations may not truly be clear to your freshman. 

Have the candid conversation. Are you expecting your student to contribute to their cell phone bill? Car insurance? Their own Amazon purchases on your account? Will you cover the cost of gas for your commuter? E-ZPass for your student who lives 2+ hours away? Let there be no surprises. 

Now, back to NEEDS. Food. Shelter. Contact lenses and allergy pills. A laptop. Gas to go back-and-forth to school. Make your list that’s specific to your student. 

WANTS. Emphasize to your freshman that a lot of new students bond over entertainment and food. There WILL be late night Chinese takeout and pizza delivery in your student’s future. Now, if they’re blowing all their cash on Starbucks, they’re going to have to say, “Nah, I’m cool” when everyone is walking to Wawa for slushies at 11 p.m. (because college).

On top of the regular WANTS in the wants column — coffeehouse drinks, movies, dorm decorations — emphasize to your student that they should set aside a part of their WANTS budget for those spontaneous, unplanned adventures with friends. Who wouldn’t want to jump in the car on a warm September Saturday with new friends and head down the shore? 

Brandi Blanton standing in front of savitz
Brandi Blanton

Now back to the boring NEEDS. Outline your expectations. Will you cover emergencies, Mom and Dad? What exactly counts as an emergency? Do you expect that your student sets aside a part of their NEEDS budget every month for unexpected things, like replacing the car’s windshield wipers? New shoes for a job interview?

Again, nothing will be clear unless you make it clear, with your student, and have these candid discussions about WANTS and NEEDS. Mom and Dad, you do NOT want to be surprised with an Amazon Prime bill from your eager student who hit up Pinterest for dorm decorating ideas and expects you to foot the bill.

Like what you see? Come visit us!


Story By:
Brandi Blanton, financial literacy expert

Faculty PROFile: Dr. Mahbubur Meenar

Dr. Meenar and students sitting outside analyzing rocks and grass

Meet Dr. Mahbubur Meenar, Assistant Professor of Planning in the Department of Geography, Planning, and Sustainability & the Director of Community Planning and Visualization Lab at Rowan University. Dr. Meenar has a multi-disciplinary background in architecture (B.Arch.), urban planning (MUP), and geography (PhD). 

portrait of Dr. Meenar outside of Wilson Hall

What is your area of expertise?

My academic training comes from multiple disciplines. I studied architecture and practiced for a short period of time before I decided to get a masters degree in urban and regional planning and finally a PhD in geography and urban studies. Currently I am an assistant professor in the Department of Geography, Planning, and Sustainability within the School of Earth and Environment. I teach courses connected to three of our majors: Community and Environmental Planning, GIS, and Geography. If I had to pick a specific area of expertise, it would be environmental planning.

I am interested in the intersection of natural and built environments and how it overlaps with the social environment. My current research projects are focused on brownfield redevelopment, green stormwater infrastructure, civic engagement, geo-spatial technology and visualization, and community food systems. My research lab website offers more information: https://www.planviz.org/

Share with us one aspect of student engagement that you enjoy most, and why?

I try to engage students using various methods suitable for different courses. I incorporate my professional planning experience in my classes as much as possible. The assignments for my “Community Planning and Site Design” course, for example, are based on real world projects—either a small part of a big research project or a replica of a mid-size project. These projects have real life clients (e.g., nonprofit organizations, local municipalities). Students visit project locations (e.g., Glassboro, Camden), meet clients or community partners, and complete site observations. They utilize that experience in class and engage in a design charrette—one of my favorite student engagement activities. 

Dr. Meenar pointing to a camera outside with students

I create a replica of real-world design charrettes in class where students work in groups, with the help of a lot of prompts (e.g., maps, tracing papers, drawing supplies, cutouts of design ideas). Students brainstorm, debate on ideas and visions, and finally develop a design proposal. They present their group proposals in front of the class and students vote for the best proposal. We end the class with a group discussion reflecting on the process and outcomes.           

Dr. Meenar talking to students outside on the rocks near Wilson Hall

What is one thing you wish people knew about your academic discipline or research focus?

Urban and regional planning professionals need to have intensive education and training specific to the profession, but they cannot and should not create plans on their own. In the real world they need to work together with policy makers, media representatives, and relevant professionals (e.g., architects, engineers, GIS analysts, landscape architects, public health professionals) depending on the type of plan/project. More importantly, planners must work closely with the community organizations, residents, businesses, and other stakeholders living or working in the community. They need to actively and meaningfully engage the stakeholders in the plan development process. It is not the professionals but the locals who have a greater understanding of their community’s strengths and shortcomings. We need to listen to their stories and visions in the beginning stage of any project in order to make a meaningful connection to the whole project.

Dr. Meenar and students outside on a class trip looking up into the sky

Do you have a favorite Rowan memory?

It is difficult to pick just one because I have a collection of fond memories in my (almost) three years at Rowan. The success of our students—either in the classroom or in the professional field—define us in many ways. I have sweet memories attached to several class projects and students’ professional achievements.

I try to keep in touch with my students even after their graduation as the GPS department’s small size allows for meaningful connections between our students and staff to take place. In addition, I really enjoyed some field trips and community events that I organized with the help of my students. I am looking forward to make more memories here at Rowan.

Dr. Meenar pointing to a map inside a classroom with students and map on the board

Like what you see? Register for an open house to learn more about the School of Earth and Environment ! 


Photography by:
Vanessa Vause, senior public relations and theatre major

#PROFspective: Environmental and Sustainability Studies Major Katie Elliott

Katie standing outside of the Rec Center

Today, we speak with Katie Elliot, a senior environmental and sustainability studies major from Hopewell (Mercer County), NJ, who rents an apartment off campus. Katie will share her #PROFspective with us on what it’s like to be a Rowan University student and how she’s getting the most out of her college experience as a Rowan […]

#PROFspective: Geographic Information Systems Major Tim Lemon

Today we speak with Tim Lemon, a senior Geographic Information Systems major from Glendora (Camden County), NJ, who commutes. He will share his #PROFspective with us on what it’s like to be a Rowan University student and how he’s getting the most out of his college experience as a Rowan Prof. Your Name: Tim Lemon Your Major: Geographic […]