Javier Otero Peña is a student of the PhD program in Environmental Psychology at the CUNY Graduate Center. Originally from Caracas, Venezuela, he studied a “Licenciatura” (5-year-degree) in Interpreting and Translation at the Universidad Central de Venezuela. In 2003, parallel to his studies, he founded and directed an NGO called PlazaFest, with the purpose of organizing free concerts in plazas to encourage the use and maintenance of public spaces in the city.
His interest in tapping the potential of PlazaFest to tackle the social, economic and cultural problems of the city led him to study a Diploma in Urban Planning and Management, and in 2010 he moved to Paris to study a Master in Environmental Policies and Sustainable Development at the Paris Catholic University. His Master’s dissertation was a study on the relationship between Public Spaces and Quality of Life in Caracas. He also did a course on Sustainable Urban Mobility in Developing countries.
He worked for the United Nations Environment Programme (Now UN Environment) from 2011 – 2014 coordinating energy efficiency actions and climate change project funding. For three years, he taught a class about Sustainable Development in Latin America and the Caribbean at the Paris Catholic University.
In 2016 Javier became a Graduate Center Digital Fellow, supporting GC students and faculty in using digital technologies in their research projects. He is also a research associate in the Public Space Research Group.
Javier is currently studying the politicization of public spaces through murals in East Harlem.
Research interests: public space, Latin America and the Caribbean, arts, culture, sustainable development, climate change, participatory action, citizen behavior & identity, quality of life, children and youth, reducing inequalities, disadvantaged communities, slums and favelas, sustainable urban mobility.