SPPD Signs MOU With State of Gujarat

Global Reach:

SPPD Signs MOU With State of Gujarat

By Ben Dimapindan

SPPD Faculty in Gujarat, India From left: Prof. Eric Heikkila; Prof. Tridib Banerjee; Narendra Modi, chief minister, State of Gujarat; and Deepak Bahl, program director at USC Center for Economic Development

The USC School of Policy, Planning, and Development (SPPD) signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the State of Gujarat and the Center for Environmental Planning and Technology University in India to establish a long-term institutional partnership in education and research.

The main objectives of this ternary collaboration are to promote engagement and exchanges between faculty, staff and students, to explore joint research programs, and to share expertise and experiences.

The partnership also aims to enhance the technological, social and cultural relations of both regions.

According to the agreement, SPPD will be linked to two new centers – the Center for Excellence in Energy and Environment, and the Center for Excellence in Infrastructure – funded by the government of Gujarat and housed in the Center for Environmental Planning and Technology University.

Professor Eric Heikkila, director of international initiatives at SPPD, noted that Gujarat is rapidly emerging as an important business hub.

“Gujarat has a significant industrial and corporate presence,” said Heikkila, who signed the agreement on behalf of Jack H. Knott, the C. Erwin and Ione L. Piper Dean of SPPD.

He added, “This endeavor serves as a unique opportunity to accomplish research, professional training and policy initiatives that could only have been possible through this kind of wide-ranging institutional collaboration. The State of Gujarat has shown itself to be highly innovative in this regard, with an impressive degree of integration between their government, the private sector and institutions of higher education.”

The agreement outlines several areas of cooperation: USC faculty visits to Gujarat; USC student internships to work on research or applied projects in Gujarat; establishing a research affiliates program for Gujarat postgraduate fellows to attend USC; initiating a Gujarat visiting student affiliates program; hosting training workshops at USC for Gujarat policymakers and urban planning professionals; and cooperative research projects.

SPPD already has been actively engaged in Gujarat.

Under professor Tridib Banerjee, director of graduate programs in planning and development at SPPD, graduate students recently completed a two-week planning studio in Ahmedabad, Gujarat’s largest city, in collaboration with the Center for Environmental Planning.

The studio focused on developing a local area plan for a neighborhood that includes the famous ashram where Mahatma Gandhi lived and launched some of his famous freedom movement initiatives.