March 29, 2000
Director of Media Relations

AMHERST, Mass.-Michael J. Ward, a senior at Amherst College, has been awarded a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship and will travel next year to Brazil to study the city of Curitiba. Ward is a resident of Wayland, Mass.

A sociology major, Ward will consider the sociological impact of some widely praised new ideas in urban studies. The city of Curitiba, Ward says, has "found innovative solutions to problems of mass transit, traffic, hunger, the spread of disease in the slums, flood damage, as well as such seemingly trivial problems as the high cost of park management." Ward says city planners consider Curtiba is a model of environmental planning.

But what is like to live there? Ward asks, "How have Curitiba's innovative programs affected the daily lives of its inhabitants?" He hopes that by living among the people of Curitiba and interviewing residents from all walks of life he will better understand the idea of the perfect city-although he admits, "I now know enough to understand that Curitiba will not be the utopia I am seeking."

Ward plans a career in public policy, perhaps as a journalist, politician or professor. At Amherst, he has been the opinion editor of The Student, the college newspaper.

The Thomas J. Watson Fellowships provide 60 exceptional college graduates, from 49 of America's leading liberal arts colleges, with the freedom to engage in a year of independent study and travel abroad. The program was begun in 1968 by the family of Thomas J. Watson, Sr., the founder of IBM, to honor their parents' interest in education and world affairs. More than 2,200 Watson Fellows have studied all over the world with the support of Watson Fellowships.