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Urban planning as a tool for social change

Receiving the Oram-Stott-Schlusche scholarship enabled Sadiyah Sabree (MSc Regional Urban Planning Studies 2018) to achieve her academic and professional dreams. She shares what her LSE education meant to her, and what she’s gone on to achieve since graduating.

I am from Philadelphia, the oldest of four children in a single-parent home. Although my mum worked throughout my childhood, it was hard for her to support four children on one income. My university education would not have been a possibility for me without scholarships, loans and any additional income I made from working part-time.

The circumstances of my upbringing gave me the determination to succeed – I saw educational achievement as the best way to help my mom and younger siblings finally gain a sense of safety and financial security. At the end of my undergraduate studies, I knew I wanted to pursue a postgraduate degree, but I didn’t have the financial means to follow my dream.

I would not have been able to study at LSE without receiving the Oram-Stott-Schlusche scholarship. I am so incredibly grateful for this opportunity – it has been such a life-changer!

My time at LSE provided me with a global perspective on urban planning issues and effective problem-solving skills that have been invaluable to my career so far. I am immensely grateful for my time at the School and all the opportunities I’ve had because of my LSE education.

After graduating from the Regional Urban Planning Studies programme in 2018, I moved back to my hometown of Philadelphia to take up a role in community and economic development. I currently work for a non-profit as a commercial corridor manager for the 52nd Street Commercial Corridor in West Philadelphia.

Commercial corridor management sits at the intersection of urban planning, real-estate and economic development, community organising and advocacy. My role is aimed at improving the streetscape of commercial areas by implementing ideas for programmes, services, physical improvements, and site activations that focus on place-making and community building.

Sadiyah with mural created on 52nd street by Nile Livingston, a Philadelphia-based muralist


Historically, 52nd Street was a hub for arts and culture for the African American and immigrant community in Philadelphia. One of my professional goals is to return to the legacy of 52nd Street as a place for thriving minority-owned businesses, and a destination for arts and culture opportunities for Philadelphians and visitors alike.

I am determined to become a change-agent for populations that are typically left out of planning conversations, such as those living in public housing or in areas slated for re-development.

I want to create sustainable communities within underserved neighbourhoods and improve the quality of life in low-income areas. I believe that urban planning should be of and for the people.

Sadiyah Sabree (MSc Regional Urban Planning Studies 2018)