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Thread: Canada/US/UK/Australia universities - best for urban design and/or focus on Global South?

  1. #1
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    Canada/US/UK/Australia universities - best for urban design and/or focus on Global South?

    Hey hey,

    I have gone through all the threads twice and have not found any answering this question. My apologies if this has already been discussed - pls. bear with me your help is very very much appreciated.

    I have a backgound in Environmental Science and Public Policy. After working in NGO/ Govt desk job, I now want to pursue a more "hands-on" career- ie. less talk and paper-work. Thus my interest in Urban Design.

    I am 90% sure that I want to work in some part of Africa (I am from Kenya). Therefore need program that has focus on global south.

    Looking for schools in Canada / US / UK / Australia. But preference is Canada.

    Thank you so very very much in advance for taking the time to help a stranger out.

  2. #2
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    That's a great thread even though I'm sure it's been discussed. I'm also looking for schools with a strong focus in Urban Design in those countries.

    I'm going to suggest to throw in landscape architecture programs with good connections to an urban planing department. Too many master's in planning prepare you to just assist "real" designers. A strong LA should prepare you better for design work.

    I would suggest:

    US:
    Harvard - LA and planning
    MIT - planning
    UC Berkeley - everything
    University of Michigan - post grad MUD
    Upenn - planning and LA
    University of washington - planning and LA
    Cal Poly - planning (undergrad LA)

    UK:
    University College Dublin - Planning
    University College London - Planning
    University of Strathclyde, Glasgow - urban design

    Canada
    Mcgill - planning
    UBC - Landscape architecture
    University of Toronto - post grad MUD

    Australia
    University of Melbourne - postgraduate or grad program depending on background and program

    I'll let others comment on the quality and particularity of each program.

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    Thanks Jerome,

    It's difficult to really decipher which universities will prepare you to work in "developing" areas.

    A lot of "international" programs have a tendancy to stick to North American and European contexts- which can be really interesting and inspiring, but really its NOT going to teach you how to source public-private infrastructure financing in the "third world", or how to upgrade inner city slum settlements in narrow industrial corridors.

    Is there anybody here working in Urban Planning/Design in sub-Saharan Africa? Or anywhere in the third world? Your experiences? did your education prepare you for the work?

  4. #4
    Cyburbian
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    You might be talking about 2 different programs. I doubt a a school would prepare you for both design and international development in the same degree.

    Design is hard to teach yourself, you need a degree to be recognized. However volunteering and internships with organizations working in developing countries are better options than school work when it comes to learning about working in Africa and the like.

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    I think University College London (UCL) has some degrees that would be an excellent fit for your intrest.

    UCL has a specific unit (the Development Planning Unit - DPU) within the Bartlett School of Built Environment that focuses on urban planning in the global south. Out of the six masters degrees that the DPU offers, I think the MSc in Building & Urban Design in Development would be of the greatest interest to you.

    From the course website: "The course aims to present a holistic process of design for development in cities within this context. It combines an examination and analysis of economic, social, cultural and spatial elements in the production of urban form and building with the principles of designing for development, which include affordability, acceptability, sustainability, participation and responsiveness. In particular, it links the methods and practice of 'design' with the complementary 'developmental' processes of action area identification, client promotion, stakeholder participation and project implementation."

    Website: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/silva/dpu/cours...s/msc_building

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    Thank you both for the information. Have had a look at Bartlett and the program seems fantastic.

    With a background in international development, I'm really not interested in attending more lectures about "the plight of the global south"

    And also, as someone who has been working in NGOs (mostly in sub-Saharan Africa) I can tell you that they are full of people with no practical skills whatsover, simply talking about development, and spending money in the most unnecessary ways. I know this because I am one of them, and thats my primary motivation for studying planning/design - to be able to offer a practical skill to developing areas.

    I have another question about attending graduate school in East Africa- how do "western" countries regard degrees coming from the global south?

    I'll put this question in a new thread.

    Thanks again for your help

  7. #7
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by afrurbanist View post
    Thank you both for the information. Have had a look at Bartlett and the program seems fantastic.

    With a background in international development, I'm really not interested in attending more lectures about "the plight of the global south"

    And also, as someone who has been working in NGOs (mostly in sub-Saharan Africa) I can tell you that they are full of people with no practical skills whatsover, simply talking about development, and spending money in the most unnecessary ways. I know this because I am one of them, and thats my primary motivation for studying planning/design - to be able to offer a practical skill to developing areas.

    I have another question about attending graduate school in East Africa- how do "western" countries regard degrees coming from the global south?

    I'll put this question in a new thread.

    Thanks again for your help
    Have you considered an actual technical/professional degree in say architecture or civil engineering or landscape architecture? It would complement your undergraduate - unfortunately such technical degrees take longer time to complete.

    On a personal note, I understand what you feel. This is why I decided to do a technical degree for postgraduate rather than a MSc in Development.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally posted by afrurbanist View post
    Thank you both for the information. Have had a look at Bartlett and the program seems fantastic.

    With a background in international development, I'm really not interested in attending more lectures about "the plight of the global south"

    And also, as someone who has been working in NGOs (mostly in sub-Saharan Africa) I can tell you that they are full of people with no practical skills whatsover, simply talking about development, and spending money in the most unnecessary ways. I know this because I am one of them, and thats my primary motivation for studying planning/design - to be able to offer a practical skill to developing areas.

    I have another question about attending graduate school in East Africa- how do "western" countries regard degrees coming from the global south?

    I'll put this question in a new thread.

    Thanks again for your help
    Yeah, the Bartlett-DPU programs look good. I'll be attending their MSc in Urban Development Planning starting in September...I'll let you know how it goes!

    I also currently work in the NGO sector (ironically enough in rural development in Mozambique). I'm looking to refocus my career to urban development, which is more in line with my previous undergrad work and interests. I was also looking for a more technical degree, though not so technical to become completely pigeon-holed...I think urban planning/devlopment programs are good for that, and the MSc's through UCL-Bartlett-DPU seem have an excellent mix of theory and practice.

    I completed my undergrad in the "global south"...South Africa to be exact. I have had no trouble finding international development work with my degree, partly because I think those in this field are more aware of what are the strong programs and universities in the global south.

    I also considered doing my Urban Planning masters in South Africa (looked at University of Witwatersrand in particular). In the end though, I chose UCL. This is just my impression, but I think urban planning programs are often underfunded at most universities, and even more so at universities in the global south where they have other priorities. The fact that DPU offers 6 urban planning masters focused on the developing world seems to indicate to me that it has more broad support from the University than other similarly-themed urban planning programs at other universities, and I also liked the fact that it is situated in one of the strong built environment schools in the U.K.

  9. #9
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    joshww81: Thanks for your message. Yes, I have started to look into architecture and environmental engineering programs. .. but as you said, it does take a MUCH longer time to finish those programs, so I have some big decisions ahead of me
    (ie. I have no idea what to choose - architecture school for 4 years? or Urban Planning or 18 months???)

    Thanks again for your advice.

    Awkab: I would love to know how the Bartlett-DPU program goes... please do keep me posted when you start this October. What did you study and where did you complete your first degree?... all the best in your studies, and thanks for your message..

  10. #10

    Global South

    Yeah the Bartlett program is an interesting one. I recall Cornell having a similar program, though this is in the US...

    South Africa has some good profs.

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