Prosperity, Civic Values and Diversity in a Gentrifying City: The Case of Central Square, Cambridge

In Cambridge, as in other rapidly gentrifying cities, change is constant.  Brought on by the city’s burgeoning innovation economy, and its deeply held values of inclusion, diversity and openness, Cambridge continues to attract both wealth and poverty.  In the middle of all the ebbs and flows, Central Square appears as one of the city’s prized civic places that residents, businesses, public and cultural institutions hold dear. This practice-based seminar will try to understand the interactions between prosperity, diversity, and values through the lens of community development in Cambridge, and through the eyes of local residents in Central Square.  It will focus on anti-gentrification strategies that are complimentary to the standing of Cambridge as a hotbed for innovation. Together with local actors, students will explore possibilities of building Central Square’s resilience in this ever-changing city, which must continue to attract writers, thinkers, entrepreneurs, artists, and people from all walks of life.

Student projects will range from planning, urban design, and community wealth and ownership strategies to retain and enhance Central Square’s presence as a cultural district in a city under enormous growth pressures.