Theses Master's

School Streets: A Path to Environmental Stewardship and Climate Awareness in Washington Heights Schools

Padilla-Chicas, Emily Samantha

In response to the pressing environmental and educational challenges intensified by climate change, especially in densely populated urban settings such as Washington Heights in New York City, this capstone investigates the collaborative efforts of the nonprofit Open Plans with schools to implement the School Streets initiative.

Though the Department of Transportation directly manages School Streets, Open Plans plays a crucial role in supporting schools through the application and implementation process. The initiative repurposes urban spaces adjacent to schools into car-free zones dedicated to educational activities and community engagement, aiming to foster environmental stewardship and enhance climate change awareness among students.

This study utilizes qualitative research methods, including discussions with involved schools and observational analyses of School Streets activities, to evaluate the initiative's effectiveness in increasing student engagement and environmental consciousness. The findings highlight the potential of integrating educational and environmental goals through community-led urban planning. By fostering collaborative efforts among educators, students, community members, and planners, School Streets serve as dynamic educational platforms that encourage sustainable practices and active participation in addressing urban environmental challenges.


This item is currently under embargo. It will be available starting 2026-06-01.

More About This Work

Academic Units
Urban Planning
Thesis Advisors
Sarmiento, Hugo
M.S., Columbia University
Published Here
June 5, 2024