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Students Explore Place-based Sustainability in the Tokyo Megaregion

The Pacific Cities Sustainability course in the Urban & Regional Planning program explores the unprecedented urban development trends in East Asia and the Pacific Rim.  Students explore one fundamental question: How are urban planning strategies seeking to harness the unprecedented scale of urban megaregions to produce long-term sustainable outcomes?


This summer’s course was co-taught by Prof. Jordan Sand (History, East Asian Studies) and Prof. Uwe Brandes (Urban & Regional Planning) and designed around a field visit to the world’s largest city, Tokyo, Japan in collaboration with the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and Kokugakuin University.  Students conducted field study, documented their field research and presented  findings to our hosts in Japan. 


“Thrown into a completely new urban environment, students gamely and creatively handled their independent fieldwork projects, working in small teams with students from Kokugakuin University. Their final presentations at Kokugakuin made a huge impression on Japanese students and faculty.” commented Prof. Jordan Sand.


The megaregion of Tokyo faces several systemic challenges, including that of a rapidly aging population. Urban challenges include job creation, high cost of housing and sea-level rise.  At the same time, the city is globally recognized for its ability to deliver new social, civic and community development outcomes, especially in the area of low-carbon development and the development of metropolitan infrastructure.


This course is designed to help students develop  the ability to conduct urban research in a non-U.S. context through field-based observation of urban planning challenges.  Students gain exposure to globally unprecedented rates of urbanization and achieve familiarity with an East Asian megacity.  Previous field visits have been made to Manilla, Shanghai, Wuhan and Beijing.  


"For many of our students who are deeply interested in urban systems -- especially mobility systems -- having the opportunity to experience daily life in Tokyo and meet with professional leaders in the urban planning community was such a unique learning opportunity." commented Prof. Uwe Brandes. 

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