Student Star: Terence Milstead

He hopes his research work in Lithuania will allow him to observe the social, political, and economic context in which urban development is occurring.

Name: Terence Milstead

Terence Milstead has received the prestigious Fulbright Grant, which he is using to travel to Vilnius, Lithuania, to conduct research for his dissertation, “Housing and Urban Re-Development in a Post-Soviet City: A Case Study of Vilnius, Lithuania.”

Lithuania, the first former Soviet republic to become a member of the European Union, has been changing rapidly. Terence says that housing in Lithuania was previously state-owned and controlled, but today housing in Vilnius is about 95% privately owned. The Old Town section of Vilnius (the largest preserved Old Town in Eastern Europe) was recently declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Terence says, “There’s a lot happening in terms of changes in the urban growth patterns, especially as foreign direct investment begins to pour in.”

Terence wants to see how home ownership is influencing those patterns. Because of the rapid process of privatization, he says, “Vilnius presents itself as a unique opportunity for a case study on the various factors that shape a city.” He will examine how privatization of state-owned housing has influenced how its residents feel about, and take care of, their housing environment, and how this response to the built environment is mediated or modified by factors such as residents’ ethnicity and neighborhood conditions.

He says, “I expect that this experience will inform my broader knowledge base of urban development patterns, not only in cities across Europe and the former Soviet Union, but also elsewhere around the globe.”

Terence has been involved with housing issues and community development for years. After graduating from the University of West Florida with a bachelor’s degree in English, he worked for the West Florida Regional Planning Council in Pensacola, coordinating citizens’ groups that provided input on the city planning processes. In 1999, he joined the Peace Corps as a community development volunteer and spent two years working in municipal development in Bulgaria. He has either lived or traveled in more than a dozen countries.

He says, “These experiences overseas shaped my research interests and also provided me with a perspective from which to advise FSU students who signed up for the Peace Corps during my tenure as the Corps’ representative on campus.”