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Meet the Mayoral Candidates: What I Learned in College

Posted by Joanna Weiss  August 23, 2013 02:20 PM

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As Boston's mayoral primary approaches, we've been polling the candidates on issues that face the city. But we want to get to know them as people, as well. So we asked them to name the college course that influenced them most.

Let us know if you're as intrigued by the answers as we were -- and tell us what college course was most influential to you, by adding to the comments or tweeting at #BosMayor. As a bonus, see if you can guess where Mike Ross's car is stopped in his video below. We'll eventually post the answer in the comments.


Bill Walczak, @BillforBoston
Community leader

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for BillWalczak.jpgI thoroughly enjoyed a course I took at Harvard Ed School, taught by Gary Orfield: "Racial Change, Inequality and the 21st Century Metropolis." Orfield, who now runs the Civil Rights Project at UCLA, is a gifted lecturer, who presented information which explained the roots of current inequality in the US, and the history of how it has been continued through the decades via decisions by government, business, and housing developers. I love history, especially history which explains current conditions which are often misinterpreted in today's world.


John Barros, @JohnFBarros
Former school committee member

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for johnbarros.jpgDuring the time that I was at Dartmouth College I remember the impact of the course "Poverty and Public Policy in America." While in college, I participated in INROADS, whose mission is to develop and place youth in business and industry and prepare them for corporate leadership. INROADS gave me hands-on skills training in the business sector, while my academic study at Dartmouth provided a framework for how the economy works. This relationship between theory and practice (praxis) was further solidified by the work that I’ve been privileged to lead at the Dudley St. Neighborhood Initiative – in developing a local economy, linking residents to regional employment opportunities, creating permanently affordable housing, and transit-oriented development--enhanced by my graduate level study at Tufts University’s Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning program, including courses on “Economics for Policy & Planning” and “Community Economic Development.”


Dan Conley, @DanFConley
Suffolk District Attorney

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for DanConley.jpgI was the first in my family to go to college, and so many of my classes opened my eyes to new and interesting subjects. Although I majored in Economics and enjoyed all of my classes, my freshman year Intro to Philosophy course at Stonehill College was especially influential. The course was taught by Dr. Fred Petti, a particularly dynamic professor. Great teachers matter, and Dr. Petti introduced us to the ideas of thinkers as diverse as Plato, Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas, Henry David Thoreau, Gandhi, and Martin Luther King Jr. and made them interesting and relevant to college freshman. I was 18 at the time, but the enduring truths and ideas of these great philosophers continue to influence me to this very day.
That class also helped me realize how important a college education can be for a young person trying to make their way in the world. College isn't for everyone, but I'd like every young person to have the same opportunity to find their own special course that captures their imagination, just as I did


Mike Ross, @MikeForBoston
Boston City Councilor


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weiss.jpegBoston.comment is an exchange for ideas about Boston and beyond, brought to you by the Boston Globe editorial page and edited by Globe columnist Joanna Weiss. We're the sponsor of Boston.com's #LabDebates and the creator of the Choose Your Own Adventure mayoral game.

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