Saul Levin, AB '17
Name, Graduation Year: Saul Levin, 2017
Current Role: Research Assistant and Master’s Student in Urban Planning and Design, Harvard Graduate School of Design
Location: Cambridge, MA
Social media: LinkedIn
Can you tell us a little about yourself and your current role?
I decided to pursue a Master’s in Urban Planning because I think that reconsidering the structures and organization of places will be the fastest way to make tangible progress towards a more sustainable future. Urban planning allows me to work on environmental issues, my main interest, while also thinking about other interesting and concerning problems like public health, environmental injustice, and mass incarceration. Beyond being a really strong program, Harvard’s MUP was of interest to me for a few reasons: it has links to and emphasis on places that interest me (e.g. Detroit and Brazil), it is located in a walkable place with transit, it has a strong culture of planning tied to activism and justice, and it emphasizes technical design skills that I got less experience with at UChicago.
What you have been doing since graduation?
After graduation, I drove across the country with my cousin, playing folk music on street corners as we made our way towards an Indian wedding. I did an Urban Planning internship with Wayne County that focused on housing and involved a lot of interesting field work and some GIS. Also in Detroit, I was the resident caretaker of Burnside Farm, an urban community farm focused on the intersection of art, community, and food. I spent one year working in PACE Administration, a type of energy financing that pays for efficiency and clean energy improvements up front so property owners can simply pay for upgrades with their savings. Finally, I spent a lot of time volunteering on a political campaign.
How PGE has helped you in your career?
The Calumet Quarter, organized by PGE, was definitely one of my best experiences at UChicago, because it got us more in touch with our local environment and local happenings in our field and also built up an academic environmental community that was really important for me and a lot of other folks for collaborating and figuring out what we wanted to do. The faculty involved in PGE during the Calumet Quarter and otherwise were amazing in helping me get the most out of my time in Chicago and beyond. The PGE also helped me find an internship I did at the Alliance for the Great Lakes, which exposed me to beach research and the joys of summer in Chicago.
A few hobbies/things you are interested in
I write and perform folk songs, so that is a big focus for me recently, which people can check out here on the off-chance they are interested. Another interest of mine is Latin America, I speak Spanish and Portuguese and head to the region whenever possible. Basketball is a passion of mine I will bring up because I would highly recommend anyone in Chicago who hoops to check out the Chicago Basketball League (CBL) at cbl.uchicago.edu, it is mighty fun.
What advice would you give undergraduate students interested in Environmental/Sustainability fields?
Don’t sell out! The notion that you can’t get a job or a well-paying job in meaningful environmental fields is a total fiction. We are fortunate to have exposure to the most important issue of our time, so let’s stick together and resist the pressure to just follow money so we can make real progress. If anyone is trying to figure out how to get into or stay in an environmental field, I would be more than happy to discuss or swap ideas. Lots of PGE alumni are doing amazing things, so there is a big pool of people who would probably enjoy helping students think through what to do.
Anything you would like to add?
Folks trying to fulfill their PGE field/internship requirement can reach out to me if they are interested in learning about a summer internship with Lean & Green Michigan based in Detroit, working on sustainable buildings.