Exploring urban growth 

Notable faculty: Professor Yingling Fan, Humphrey School of Public Affairs

International focus: Fan developed a study-abroad course to give students a first-hand look at how cities in China are managing rapid population growth. Fan, a native of China whose expertise is in urban planning, has led the two-week May class for the last two years. Students visit four cities in China, including Beijing and Hong Kong, to experience alternative ways of urban planning and urban life. 

Why China? Fan says China is on course to have 1 billion people living in urban areas by 2030. In Shenzhen, for example, the city’s population has exploded over the last 40 years—from a fishing town of 30,000 residents to the fourth largest city in China with a population approaching 20 million. That rapid growth puts tremendous pressure on housing, education, and other public services, Fan says.

What students learned: “Here in the United States we sometimes don't think about other options, like having trains that can recharge in their stations so they need less infrastructure,” says Jackie Nowak, who went on the trip in 2018 shortly before graduating with her master’s in urban and regional planning. “Sometimes you have to see something else in action to see if it will work.”

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