Summer internship: Pudong Planning and Design Institute, Shanghai, China.
Thanks to a generous Stassen Fellowship from the Humphrey School, I spent the summer of 2016 in Shanghai, China, learning first-hand about the challenges of urban planning in the world’s biggest city.
Tell us about your experience.
I interned at the Pudong Planning and Design Institute, whose work focuses on land-use planning in Shanghai’s largest district, Pudong. Home to the city’s iconic financial center, Pudong also includes a sprawling rural area of fast-growing satellite towns. I worked on background research for the planning of Zhangjiang Science City, an area of Pudong that the city hopes to turn into the next Silicon Valley. I also worked on the Institute’s public engagement initiatives, processing citizen input for the district’s 2040 comprehensive plan.
At the end of the internship, I remained in Shanghai to attend the International Summer School at Tongji University’s College Architecture and Urban Planning. With other planning, architecture, and landscape architecture students from around the world, I worked on a proposal to update four city blocks of traditional shikumen housing to make them more vital and inclusive.
What in particular made the internship rewarding?
Not only did I have the chance to work with some really wonderful people, I also got an up-close look at how Shanghai is meeting the challenge of providing transportation, housing, and other infrastructure for its 24 million people. Planners in China confront many of the same difficulties they face in the U.S.: how to balance new development with historic preservation, how to manage rising housing costs, and how to build walkable, livable communities at a human scale.
How will this experience shape your studies at the Humphrey School, and how will it affect your plan to advance the common good after graduation?
Traveling to Shanghai, and learning about its urban planning strategies, was an immensely valuable experience. Beyond concrete professional skills, the internship and the summer school offered me a fascinating window onto China’s urbanization—and even more importantly, they spurred my desire to learn more. I hope to return to China after I graduate in May, possibly to work in an international design and planning firm. Given how quickly China is changing, sound urban planning is vital for ensuring that its cities grow in an inclusive and sustainable fashion.