SPPD Sends Four Interns to the Chinese Academy of Urban Planning and Development
By Cristy Lytal
This summer, four SPPD students – master of public administration student Ana Artiga, master of planning students Jeanelyn “Joy” Kwong and Brendan Keeler, and progressive master of planning student Sen Sugano – are applying their expertise to some of the complex challenges faced by China, a country with approximately 100 cities with populations over a million.
The students are participating in three-month internships hosted by the Chinese Academy of Urban Planning and Development (CAUPD), China’s leading urban planning agency. The goal of the internships is to foster a long and productive relationship between the professional and academic planning communities of the U.S. and China.
The SPPD students are excited to be exposed to the Chinese approach to the field.
“As China has become a bigger player on the world stage in the last decade, it has increasingly moved up on my short list of countries that I would like to learn more about,” Artiga said.
Artiga — who also participated in the international lab in Hong Kong and Foshan, China — is researching how to best organize business investments and encourage tourism in Beichuan City, which was devastated by the 2008 Sichuan Province earthquake.
Keeler – who is working on a master plan to improve tourism in downtown Sanya, a city often referred to as the “Hawaii of the Orient” – shares this fascination with the rapidly industrializing nation.
“As urban planning students, we hear about examples from China everywhere — in the news, class readings, class discussions,” he said. “China is urbanizing at such a fast rate – in positive and negative ways – that it provides an interesting angle for studying the planning process.”
For Kwong, an intern at the International Research Studio, going to China is personal as well as professional.
“Earlier this year, I realized that, as much as I value being cross-cultural, it’s important for me to understand my Chinese history, culture, and background,” she said. “And I wanted to learn more about how planning is done in China with its long history, as well as offer some best practices from the West.”
Her main research project involves community-based planning in urbanized cities, particularly in preparation for Shenzhen’s Master Plan 2040.
Sugano is researching case studies, mostly in the post-socialist nations of Eastern Europe, that might prove relevant in improving housing conditions in China.
“I first became interested in international urban planning from having had such a diverse group of friends from around the world as an undergrad at USC. I think one of the best things USC and SPPD have to offer is their strong commitment to international studies and truly becoming a global institution of higher education,” said Sugano, who also participated in SPPD’s Berlin planning studio.
Like all of the CAUPD interns, Sugano enjoys putting his knowledge to work.
“In SPPD, we’re taught the fundamentals of planning and development,” he said, “and then we’re given opportunities like the CAUPD internship, labs, and studios to really put theory into practice, both locally and internationally.”