October 19, 2018

SCS Urban and Regional Planning Program Signs MOU with Wuhan University to Promote Educational Exchange

Uwe Brandes, associate professor of the practice and faculty director of the Urban and Regional Planning Program at Georgetown’s School of Continuing Studies (SCS), signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Wuhan University’s School of Urban Design to foster academic exchange.

View of Wuhan, China, from a building under construction
View of Wuhan, China, from a building under construction

Located in Wuhan, midpoint along the Yangzte River and the capital city of Hubei province, Wuhan University is one of China’s officially designated top-tier universities. 

“This MOU opens the door to a sustained dialogue between our two universities on themes related to urban development in the Unites States and in China,” said Brandes. “By coordinating visits, classes, research projects, and semesters abroad, we hope to cultivate new insight into the best practices of urban planning in each of our countries.”

Urbanization in China

With a population of over 10 million people, Wuhan ranks among China’s fastest growing metropolitan areas. Due in part to government efforts to innovate urban environments nationwide, the city has undergone intense development in recent years. 

“Across China, a series of global gateway mega-regions have emerged around Beijing, around Shanghai, and in the shared mega-region of Guangzhou, Shenzen, and Hong Kong. Wuhan, located at the midpoint of the Yangtze River, has been identified by the central government as being China’s next global gateway.”

According to Brandes, the city is being planned to double in size over the next 20 years, making it an opportune place for students to witness the urban development process firsthand and the administrative and investment practices to make it happen.

“The investments being made in Wuhan are simply at a scale and pace for which we have few contemporary precedents in the United States,” said Brandes. “Located at the crossroads of the national high-speed rail network, you can travel to Beijing, Shanghai, or Guangzhou, all within five hours or less. That puts about 20% of the world’s population within easy reach.”

Researching Cities

Chandler Pace (G‘19), pursuing his master of professional studies (MPS) in real estate, traveled to Wuhan with Brandes and other Georgetown graduate students this past summer. The group met with students and faculty at Wuhan University, as well as with city planning officials.

“Prior to the trip, the only insight I had on the Chinese real estate market was through articles and publications,” said Pace. “My travels allowed me to develop my own appreciation and understanding of the Chinese market through first-hand interactions and exchanges. I was amazed to learn how much the Chinese real estate industry differed from ours.”

The trip also took students to Beijing and Shanghai, where they studied historic districts, toured China’s largest skyscraper, and shared stories with Georgetown alumni over dinner."

The experience helped me to understand the diversity of China’s cities and the role urban planning has in making cities more functional and liveable for its residents,” said Tatiana Smith (G’20), a student in the Urban and Regional Planning Program.

MPS in Urban and Regional Planning

Unlike typical urban planning programs, Georgetown’s program is not housed within a school of architecture, allowing greater flexibility in the types of disciplines incorporated into the curriculum.

“We have collaborative projects going on simultaneously with the Law School, the Business School, and the History Department—we are not constrained by a preconceived notion of what urban planning is,” said Brandes. “When we say we’re interdisciplinary, we mean it.” Smith remarked,

​I chose to study urban and regional planning at Georgetown University as the course has a positive reputation and offered studying urban planning within a global context. 

“Georgetown’s location in Washington, D.C., allows me to have a unique networking and program experience unlike any other urban planning program available.”