Transportation Equity Research Assistant

Project Description:

Transportation equity is not a new concept. From activist Jane Jacobs to community stakeholders throughout America, there have always been fierce debates about the fairness of transportation project planning, decision-making, and implementation. Today, however, there is renewed recognition of the challenges of building a robust, efficient transportation system against the backdrop of historically uneven power dynamics, and there is governmental inertia to enact law and policy to improve fairness. With focus now shifting towards improving public input systems, creative infrastructure design and implementation, and sensitizing transportation decision-makers to the cumulative effect of their actions on underserved communities, there is a need to build a record of past decision-making and its harmful impacts, and to examine present efforts undertaken by current federal, state, and local governments to correct past mistakes and to forecast future challenges. The complexities of this issue are significant and require a comprehensive survey of available public records and direct engagement with community members and government leaders. It is hoped that, from this work, clear recommendations can be made to improve future transportation project implementation at all levels of government.

Tasks and Deliverables:
  • Conduct background and desk research on past governmental actions, laws, policies, and/or procedures that led to deepening inequities in the construction of U.S. transportation infrastructure. The template developed will become a model for ongoing data collection.
  • Provide substantial support in drafting the text, creating data visualizations, and other graphics to inform a written study.
  • Support and participate in interviews, focus groups, and formal hearings with government and community leaders to solicit and incorporate their feedback on what issues deserve the most urgent attention and on recommendations flowing from this workstream.


Desired Qualifications and Experience:
  • Strong communication skills, both oral and written.
  • Comfort with ambiguity and a willingness to analyze with rigor and practical judgment a broad array of approaches to addressing transportation equity.
  • Strong organizational and project management skills
  • Flexible schedule, ability to manage multiple tasks efficiently; good time-management. skills.
  • Experience or familiarity with federal, state, and/or local transportation planning, decision-making, or implementation.
  • Ability to work well independently and as a member of a team.
  • Persistent work ethic and self-discipline to stay on task preferred.

Eligibility: Harvard graduate or master’s degree students are eligible to apply.

Duration: 2023-2024 academic year (approximately)

Anticipated time commitment: 10-20 hours per week

Compensation: $21/hour (graduate students), $16-$19/hour (undergraduate students)

Apply here.

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