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Meet Professor Naomi Adiv
Meet Professor Naomi Adiv

Assistant Professor, Urban Studies and Planning

Naomi Adiv asks “who belongs?” in public space

PhD, 2014, Earth and Environmental Sciences, Geography track, City University of New York Graduate Center, New York City.
MS, 2008, Community Development, University of California at Davis
BA, 2002, Peace and Conflict Studies, University of California at Berkeley

AT PSU SINCE: 2014

CURRENT ROLES:
  • Professor of Urban Studies and Planning
  • Committee on Diversity and Recruitment
  • Committee on Undergraduate Exec

RESEARCH AREAS:
Public Space, Play, Water in Cities, Marginal Spaces

CLASSES:
  • UNST 220: Understanding Communities (SINQ)
  • USP 301: Introduction to Community Development
  • USP 413/513: Public Space

DISSERTATION:

The Amphibious Public: A historical geography of municipal swimming and bathing, New York City, 1870 – 2013

LINKS:

CONTACT INFORMATION:

Office: Urban Center 370 Q
Email: nadiv@pdx.edu 
Phone: (503) 725-5171

My research focuses on urban public spaces, particularly the history of their social and political functions in cities over time. In my dissertation research, I studied the public swimming pools in New York City, and the bath houses that preceded them. In the course of this research, I thought and wrote about how public spaces are tied up with competing ideas about what counts as a healthy body, and who is entitled to public spaces in the city. 

In my classes, I’m interested in motivating students to think about what we use the word “community” – which we hear every day in the news and other media – to connote. What qualities do communities have, and which would we like to promote for the future? What do we mean by “sense of community” or “loss of community”? Which kinds of communities are we describing and how do they work? 

My classes generally involve a fair bit of writing, and a lot of group discussion. Becoming a better writer requires a lot of practice. This involves, first, regular writing about what we read and, second, opportunities to work on a piece and then revise in a pretty serious way. My students report coming out much stronger and more confident in both their reading and their writing; these skills are fundamentally interconnected. Small group discussion is a way to rehearse our ideas – to try ideas out and get them wrong. I think getting things wrong, or working one’s way out of confusion, are really important to a genuine learning process, so there has to be some space for that in a course, even if the quarter is short.

What Professor Adiv has to say...


UNIQUENESS OF THE TOULAN SCHOOL:
Students here are not only encouraged, but required to work on projects outside of the academy. From the start, they deal with a world that is messy and complicated and use it to inform their conceptual frame.

VISION FOR THE TOULAN SCHOOL:
The Toulan School has incredibly permeable boundaries. Faculty and students are involved in a tremendous array of projects and agencies around the city. I would love to see this quality grow even more.

HOW I FIT INTO THAT VISION:
I look forward to getting involved with local projects, partnering with arts and media organizations to open up scholarly conversations, and to help students disseminate research.

ON TEACHING IN PORTLAND:
The students at Portland State have incredibly varied backgrounds! They work a lot to support themselves outside of school, and they bring that experience with them into the classroom, which leads to rich discussions of how our social lives are structured beyond the university. 

WHAT STUDENTS SHOULD TAKE AWAY:
I hope that students are able to walk out of their university education with a degree of intellectual autonomy and curiosity they may not have had before. I hope that they grow curious about people and experiences unlike their own, and that they continue to read and listen to perspectives that differ from those in their places of origin. I hope that they are able to see the city as a dynamic place with points of access to power in which they may be involved.

ADVICE FOR PROSPECTIVE STUDENTS:
Go to everything! Get student tickets for every cultural event, sit in on every lecture you hear about, go to all your professors’ office hours at least once a term, take a bus to the end of the line and walk around there, take a dance or PE class. Drink lots of water and get plenty of sleep. Turn off your computer entirely at least one day a week.

FAVORITE URBAN PLACES:
In Portland: the bike paths over the bridges, really any outdoor place to sit and drink coffee, the picture windows of the Franz bread factory, the Oaks Amusement Roller Skating Rink. Does Forest Park count as urban? I love it there. In New York: Fort Greene Park, the Brooklyn Bridge, McCarren Park pool, the front steps of the Brooklyn main library, the sidewalks of the West Village. In other cities: the Berkeley Marina, the plaza in front of the Modern Art Museum in Barcelona, Alamo Square in San Francisco, the beach in Rio, the Tel Aviv boardwalk, the Diag in downtown Ann Arbor, the Algiers ferry in New Orleans.

FAVORITE NON-URBAN PLACES:
I am an Oregon beginner, so I am excited about the first sight of Mount Hood on a clear day, or a short drive into the Columbia River Gorge. I just went to the coast for the first time! I also love the Catskills, and am happy pretty much anyplace there is a swimming hole or a warm beach. 

INFLUENTIAL BOOKS/ARTICLES:
The Politics of Public Space (Low and Smith, Eds.), Last Night on Earth (Bill T. Jones), The Human Condition (Hannah Arendt), The Great Transformation (Karl Polanyi), City of Flows (Maria Kaika), Good City Form (Kevin Lynch), Wanderlust (Rebecca Solnit), Design for Ecological Democracy (Randy Hester).

HOPE TO MEET SOMEDAY:
Rachel Maddow, Elizabeth Warren, Bill DeBlasio, Zadie Smith, Antonio Villaraigosa, Ira Glass.