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 ! 

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

Roommates Reflect: Enzo Ronchi & Adam Goskowsky [VIDEO]

two roommates inside playing chess

Meet roommates Enzo Ronchi, junior public relations major from Ventnor, NJ (Atlantic County) and Adam Goskowsky, sophomore advertising major from Brick, NJ (Ocean County.) Get a look into the Rowan Boulevard Apartments …

Video by: Bianca Torres, sophomore music industry major & Edris Forde, junior radio, TV, film major
Music by: Bianca Torres, sophomore music industry major

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Prof Style: Michael Buck

Michael outside with pretty pink flowers behind him at Rowan
Michael outside in nature in front of bikes and pretty tree

“One time a friend said my style is ‘athleisure’ (athletic leisure). I am ready to go to a movement class at any time.”

Michael Buck, sophomore theatre major (acting/directing & musical theatre track), from Red Bank (Monmouth County), NJ.

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Story and photography by:
Vanessa Vause, senior public relations and theatre major

TRANSFERmation Tuesday: Austin Gilliss

Austin out front of the Rec center holding frisbees up outside

Meet Austin Gilliss, a junior health and physical education major from Merchantville, NJ (Camden County) who is a Blackwood Eagle Scout & Alpha Phi Delta fraternity brother who transferred from Camden County College.

Austin out front of the Rec center holding up frisbees

“Transferring from a community college to a university can be challenging. You’re trying to figure out where you fit in and how to fit in. I am a brother of a new fraternity here on campus, Alpha Phi Delta, and I’m starting up a frisbee golf club with a bunch of guys who share similar interests with me,” says Austin.

“We’re working together to form a frisbee golf team that will launch this coming fall semester. Come out and see what we’re about! It’s great that I have the opportunity to propose a new club to the Rec Center here at Rowan. Everyone is welcome to join, contact me if you’re interested!”

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TRANSFER NOW

Story and photography by:
Vanessa Vause, senior public relations and theatre major

Exploratory Studies Student: Allison Cespedes

student Allison outside of cherry blossom tree in Rowan hoodie

Meet Allison Cespedes who started off her Rowan experience as an exploratory studies major and discovered her interest in pre-med.

Allison sitting outside in a Rowan hoodie

“Hello! I’m Allison Cespedes, a first generation college student who is a senior psychology major on a pre-med track with an honors concentration. I am from Bridgewater, NJ (Somerset County) and have lived on campus all four years.

I’ve been a resident assistant and a student admissions ambassador for the past two years now and currently I am a resident assistant for the Whitney Center. I began my college career as an exploratory studies major after I took a career course during the summer, before coming into the fall semester. Starting off as this major gave me a good idea as to what I wanted to study for the rest of my time at Rowan.”

Allison wearing Rowan hoodie sitting on bench outside of Bunce

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

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