Getting people moving

Grad profile: Nick Shaw, Faculty of Architecture and Planning

- May 22, 2013

Nick Shaw. (Danny Abriel photo)
Nick Shaw. (Danny Abriel photo)

Every spring and fall, we profile just a few of our amazing graduates in our convocation handout. We proudly feature these stories here on Dal News. Congrats to all our new graduates!

Hailing from Hamilton, Ont., Nick Shaw started his undergraduate degree in environmental science and international development at Dal because of his attraction to the city. “Halifax is an interesting, colonial, fortress city,” he says. For a future urban planner, the atmosphere and layout of the city helped make his decision an easy one.

Shaw’s interest in planning emerged during his undergraduate degree, after studying issues of space and the implications of the urban environment. “I wanted to approach the bigger problems we have in society, including anonymity between neighbours [and] self-serving individualism. The ultimate goal is to design communities and spaces that encourage you to know your neighbours, to eliminate the silos and build solidarity and community pride.” A master’s degree in planning proved to be a meaningful way to approach these issues and explore his passion for sustainable transportation and planning.

His independent master’s research project, “Factors Affecting Elderly Mobility Issues and Their Residential Location Choice,” was presented at the North American Meeting of the Regional Science Association International in Ottawa. His experiences also included an international transportation conference in Washington, D.C., where he presented his co-authored paper about the integration of a bike-sharing program.

Shaw draws planning inspiration and best practices from the Netherlands and Sweden, where there is considerable public participation in transportation and planning. “I am infatuated with Sweden. They have an amazing governance policy on transportation and a high quality of public discourse.”

He’s very interested in studying how people move and encourages others to consider alternative and more sustainable forms of transportation. “The less reliant we are on cars the more opportunity we have to reimagine streets to be a place of interaction and not just vehicular flow. If we can reprioritize how we use the streets and place cars near the bottom, then natural urban design will emerge.”

While he’s exploring a few options for what to do following graduation, Shaw admits, “If I could do anything, I’d love to work as a transportation planner for a transportation and design firm in Copenhagen.”


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