by Robin Heffler
A recently signed agreement between UCLA, an Indian university, and governmental officials in India will enable the School of Public Affairs’ urban planning students to work as summer interns and participate in hands-on projects at India’s leading architecture and urban planning university. Some UCLA faculty will present lectures and workshops there as well.
On January 10, Urban Planning Chair Brian Taylor and School of Public Affairs Associate Dean Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris signed a memorandum of understanding in which their department and the UCLA Institute of Transportation Studies will share knowledge and learning opportunities with the Center for Environmental Planning and Technology (CEPT) university, located in the Indian city of Ahmedabad, in the State of Gujarat.
“There has been quite a hunger from School of Public Affairs students to be exposed to the contexts, issues, and problems experienced in other parts of the world,” said Loukaitou-Sideris. “Like similar collaborations we have with the China Academy of Urban Planning, this agreement will give them that exposure as well as experience with housing, transportation, and infrastructure projects.”
For Gujarat’s leaders, the agreement is a way to gain expertise they need to establish centers of excellence in these and other areas of urban planning. CEPT students will be able to take urban-planning classes at UCLA for a quarter or two, while Gujarat public officials may participate in UCLA urban-planning training workshops.
Taylor pointed out that “India has 16 percent of the world’s population and is rapidly urbanizing. One example of our mutual interests is the research I’ve done on bus rapid-transit systems, while Indian planners from CEPT have also developed applications for such transportation. This common interest could result in one of many joint research programs with faculty from both universities that look at comparative issues.”
Taylor and Loukaitou-Sideris were among representatives of 80 institutions worldwide who signed collaborative agreements with academic bodies in Gujarat, the most prosperous state in India. The signings were part of the International Roundtable of Academic Institutions, held in conjunction with the Vibrant Gujarat 2011 Summit, an annual economic-development conference.