11.S945 Urbanizing China: A Reflective Dialogue

Bios of Class Members

Elena V. Korotkova, Russia

Elena is an urban economist from Moscow, Russia. She worked for the GIPROGOR urban planning institute, specializing in land taxation and valuation, land use planning, and socio-economic forecast, as well as managing urban and regional planning teams. She has also developed affordable public housing and infrastructure PPP policies for the Russian government. Elena’s Ph.D. dissertation at the Plekhanov’s Economic Academy explored the Russian land evaluation system and municipal finance. At MIT, she will focus on land management, municipal budgeting, and the interface of residential and infrastructure development.

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Saul Wilson
I'm a fourth year undergraduate majoring in Mathematics and Asian Studies, with a particular interest in China (and, oddly enough, rural politics and society in China).  Although I have no formal background in urban planning or studies, I spent about a decade involved in transportation planning politics in my hometown, Baltimore, and transportation planning and the associated urban issues remain something of a passion for me.  My interest in this class thus comes both from my academic focus on China and my past involvement in transportation issues, but it also comes from having spent almost six months of the past year and half in Chinese cities--Beijing, Tianjin, and Kunming, along with trips to others.  There I've been struck not only by the astounding similarities across cities--and their impressively high level of development--but also by the oftentimes puzzlingly inconvenient, sometimes even suburban, design of roads and the transportation network.

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David Cohen-Tanugi

I am a Ph.D. candidate in materials science & engineering at MIT. My research focuses on clean water technology using computational modeling. I am especially interested in the design of next-generation Reverse Osmosis membranes for affordable and efficient water desalination. Prior to joining MIT, I worked for NRDC, an environmental organization. My job revolved around China-U.S. climate change and energy policy, and I used to travel back and forth between Washington DC and Beijing. Some of my work at NRDC actually focused on urban planning and transportation policy in Beijing, and I've retained a deep interest in the topic of urbanizing China. In 2007, I was a volunteer educator for the Rural China Education Foundation (RCEF).  spent two weeks in Yinjialin, right outside Jinan, leading children through Mandarin-language creative classes and activities. The experience taught me a lot about countryside population in transition!

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Xiao Wang  Xiao is an Economist at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Specializing in public finance and regulatory policies, he conducts reviews for cities and national governments. He co-authored the 2013 OECD Economic Survey of China and the working paper “The System of Revenue Sharing and Fiscal Transfers in China”. He holds dual master’s degrees in Economics and Public Policy from the National University of Singapore and Sciences Po in Paris, where he became fluent in French. At MIT, he intends to deepen his knowledge of land and transport policies to better understand urban expansion and new cities development. Specifically at the Urbanizing China class, he hopes to broaden his knowledge of these issues through learning the urban design and planning knowledge.

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Mengmeng Zhou I am a master student at the department of Urban and Environmental Planning& Policy, Tufts University. Before I come here. I was an undergrad student at Harbin Institute of Technology. I have done some internships at Ministry of Housing and Urban-rural department of People’s Republic of China(2013); the RTKL international, Shanghai(2012); Harbin Institute of Technology Urban Planning and Design(2011); Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development (MOHURD) Jilin Province(2011); the Changchun Institute of Urban Planning and Design(2010) and Harbin Win Design Company (2010). As an urban planer intern, I have joined projects from small scale urban design, such as street urban design and redevelopment plan, to larger scale regional planning, like Changji (Changchun City and Jilin City) Metropolitan Spatial & Strategic Plan – 30,000 sq.km regional planning. Now I am interested in policy making by the governments and urban economics, especially in the context of new urbanization level of China.

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Jie Yin is currently a deputy chief planner of Shanghai Total Architectural Design & Urban Planning Co., Ltd. Before that, he had worked as a principle planner at Shanghai Tongji Urban Planning & Design Institute for three years. As a Certified Planner and Certified Engineer in China, he has led or participated in a number of projects on land use planning, urban design, and rural planning. Meanwhile, he has had successful experiences in several national and international design competitions. His prior researches mainly focused on Eco-city theories and practices, while he also developed interest in environmental policy and planning, as well as rural development in China. Jie holds a Master of Engineering in Urban Planning and Design from Tongji University (2010) and a Bachelor of Engineering in Urban Planning from Central South University (2006). I am hoping to better understand China’s urbanization from a big-picture perspective and to learn the methodology and analytical skills through case study and discussion on several burning issues in this process.

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ChengHe Guan’s research interest is on rapid urbanization process that shapes future cities. Built on the experience based urban planning strategy, he proposes a quantitative approach to aid the decision making process in the era of Big Data. Through spatial simulation, urban modeling, remote sensing, and accessibility analysis at city as well as regional levels, he is building a multidisciplinary methodology to study urban network and ecological network. The application of the research includes policy evaluation & recommendation, sensitivity analysis, and suitability study etc. ChengHe is a consultant for the World Bank Urban Development Sector, a research fellow for Professor Rowe, and a registered Architect in California. He is a frequent speaker and moderator at Harvard University, Tsinghua University, Tongji Univerity, renowned research institutes, and international conferences. He holds a Bachelor in Architecture from Southeast University, a Master in Architecture from Washington University in St. Louis and Master in Design Study from Harvard University.

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, Harvard GSD
+ Master in Urban Planning 2014

+ Background: Healthcare Actuarial (3 years) Transportation Consultant (5 years) Clients
- King County Metro
- Phoenix RPTA
- New Orleans RTA
- North County (San Diego) TD - Orange County TA

+ Interests
: Transportation + Land Use
Transit Planning
Social Equity
Sustainabile Transportation Policy East Asia + China

+ Skills
: ArcGIS
SQL + Database
Adobe Creative Suite (Illustrator, Photoshop, InDesign, et al) SketchUp

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Zak Accuardi

I'm a second year student in the Technology and Policy Program, researching urban metabolism with a focus on policy for urban sustainability transitions. Before coming to MIT, my background was in environmental engineering (BS from Columbia), and I worked for a year at a small energy efficiency consulting firm in New York City. For my masters thesis I plan to explore historical resource consumption in cities that have undergone rapid development, likely including Singapore and at least a few in China. From the course, I hope to gain an improved understanding about the Chinese development context, policy environment, and cultural perspective -- through both the course materials and interactions with students/speakers who bring their expertise in the area to the classroom. 

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Zelin Li comes from China. She just got her bachelor's degree in Urban Planning as well as Economics from Peking University. Interested in urban transportation issues, she wants to explore travel behavior and public transportation planning in MIT. Not having much work experience, Urbanizing China provides a great chance to look at the problems in China's urbanization process more deeply


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Boyu Zhang

I am a second-year graduate student at Master of City Planning Program at Boston University. I am originally from Huozhou, Shanxi. I am interested in transportation planning and applied GIS. In this course, I have three expectation: 

1. have a deep understanding  of which problems China has been solving and  which achievement China has been making during the urbanization; 2. By contrast with US, which challenge and opportunity China had/ will have in the global background; 3. try to explore: how to make my career plan and how I can connect "what I learn in US" to "what I can contribute in China".

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Zhen (Albee) Li, I grew up in a coastal city in the southeast of China. As an undergraduate, I majored in Public Administration and minored in Finance. After interning at a consulting firm in Beijing and at a local government institution of Fujian Province, I gained more practical knowledge and experiences about the private and public sector in China. I am always curious about everything happening in cities, and I am always seeking and appreciating ways that make cities more livable and urban life more sustainable. So I went to Boston University in the fall of 2011, beginning my master’s study in Urban Affairs. During the past two years, I got the chance to explore new areas like transportation, GIS, and urban economic issues. I love to link all the new things I learn together, and they are always linked! I got my degree this May and said goodbye to my college life. owever, I am lucky to join this class at MIT to have an in-depth look at the urbanization of China. I am especially interested in the topics of land use and policy responses.


Yanjie Li

I'm a BU graduate student, enrolled in Master of City Planning program, and this is my last semester. Kind interested in urban transportation, urban land use planning and real estate development/Redevelopment. I'm looking forward to see what can i get from this terrific and open-mined seminar. so far, I like it very much.

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Wenfei Xu

I am a second year in the Masters of Architecture program at MIT, though I studied economics in undergrad at the University of Chicago.  I am in interested in learning about the larger issues that are important or relevant in China right now personally, and my expectation in the class to get a nuanced and detailed overview of each topic.


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Liu Liu mainly focuses on bridging physical outcomes with a positive influence on multi-disciplinary value systems behind them. He is particularly interested in how to apply diverse approaches in helping cities evolve
 through dynamic background such as technical revolution, human behaviors changes, and spatial restructure, especially for the cities from Third World. Recently he is quite interested in data-mining for cities in China.


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My name is Diego Laserna and I grew up in Bogota Colombia. I did my undergrad in Political Science and Economics at Columbia University and then went back to South America where I have worked with local and national governments and several political campaigns. I had the opportunity to spend 10 months in Beijing in 2010 and am looking forward to learning more about China


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Latha Chhetri is a Chief Urban Planner with the Ministry of Works & Human Settlement in Bhutan. She heads the Urban Planning and Development sector, which oversees the planning and design process for municipal development projects across the country, including coordinating government agencies and private stakeholders. Her office also provides technical support and advice to the local government for implementation. She holds a masters degree in urban design and development from the university of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. At MIT, she is attending a non- degree SPURS/ Humphrey program for professional enhancement. She will focus on the challenges of rapid rural-urban migration and explore municipal reforms for a balanced and sustainable development.

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Corinna Li

“Made” in China, “assembled” in Canada, and “fine-tuned” in America, I am a global nomad with an immense passion for sustainable urban transportation and international development.  I am currently a first year MCP student at DUSP.  I received my Bachelors degree in Ethics, Politics & Economics from Yale University in 2011, with my senior thesis focusing on sustainable urban transportation planning in Shenzhen, China.  I have since worked as a corporate sustainability consultant in New York City, helping Fortune 500 companies implement their sustainability strategies. I have also worked on the governmental and academic side, such as my year-long work experience at the Chinese Ministry of Transport’s Planning & Research Institute and the Urban China Initiative in Beijing. I am hugely interested in transportation and sustainability, and want to devote my life to answering one big question: how can we plan urban transportation ecosystems in the Global South to induce sustainable lifestyles, while fulfilling the economic and individual welfare needs of developing societies? I think the answer lies at the nexus of technological innovation, behavior change, and new infrastructure financing structure. If you have any insights on this question, I’d love to hear and discuss them with you!

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Philip Kreycik I am a first year MST/MCP student who will be working with John Heywood to quantify the potential impact of various policies to reduce transportation emissions. I would like to work on policy after I graduate, trying to shift development patterns in rapidly growing parts of the world to make cities more sustainable, healthy, and equitable. I have limited background in transportation, having taken only a few courses recently and having worked as a research assistant for a small part of an Urban China Initiative project on transit oriented development. As an undergraduate I studied earth sciences, with a focus on climate change, and I worked in a lab that used geochemical techniques to reconstruct past climate. My professional background is in energy efficiency and sustainability initiatives, which required learning skills in institutional change management and community-based social marketing. I am a Certified Energy Manager and a former LEED Accredited Professional. In my most recent position at Harvard, as an Energy Analyst, I focused on energy procurement, financial modeling, and data analysis. I am interested in the course because I think that, due to their large scale and rapid pace of urbanization, China and other developing countries have the best hope of employing land use and transportation policies that will make a significant difference in global emissions and pollution in the long run, and I would like to learn how they can optimize their chances for success.

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Rebecca Heywood

I am a first year student in the Master of Science in Transportation program.  I graduated from MIT in 2012 with an undergraduate degree in civil engineering and spent the past year working in India and Brazil.  In India, I worked with a transportation think tank doing research on the demographics and motivations of motorcycle users in urban India, and in Brazil I worked with a transportation engineering firm.  I am interested in the social and economic implications of transportation projects, as well as the opportunities afforded by transportation access.   In particular, I am interested in these issues as they relate to transportation systems and access in developing countries.  I have worked, lived and studied in places ranging from India and Brazil, to South Africa, Vietnam, Uganda and Mexico, among others. I am a listener in this course, and am doing so because I want to learn more about China.  While I have a variety of experience from around the word, I know very little about China.  I anticipate that throughout my career I will be working on projects in China, as well as working with people from China.  I would like to learn more about the country and its unique systems and institutions. 

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Barry Beagen

I am from Indonesia, currently a third year Masters of Architecture program, previously was an engineer with B.S. Civil and Environmental Engineering from Cornell University. I am currently involved in the Urban Risk Lab which looks at the intersection of planning, policy, design and urbanism for disaster resiliency. as well as the research on low cost housing in India under the Tata Center for Technology and Design. My interest and expectation in this class is to come away with the nuances of various mega-urbanism India, China, Indonesia, etc. and its relationship to the landscape - how technical, political and ideological systems are superimposed on ecological systems in the process of urbanization.

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Luxi Lin

Growing up in urban China neighborhoods, I am a witness of urbanizing China. Later on, I got my undergraduate degree in Urban Planning and Economics from Peking University and have worked as an intern in a municipal planning institute and a non-profit organization for migrant community. Studying in DUSP, I would love to bring changes in community planning and public participation back. Taking Urbanizing China, I would love to learn the approaches different scholars take to examine China issues.


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Cristián Navas Duk, Chile

Cristián is a transportation planner focused on public transport and non- motorized modes. He worked in the office of the Chilean Undersecretary of Transportation for five years, where he established the Sustainable Transport Unit. As the Principal of this unit, he developed a national program to encourage walking and bicycle use among children commuting to school. He studied Civil Engineering with an ongoing specialization in Transport Planning at Universidad de Chile. At MIT, he will explore how transportation systems and urban planning influence each other, and how this interaction could contribute to the sustainable development of the city.



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My name is Xinyue Wang, I had my undergrads study in Montreal, major in finance. Working in unrelated area as an executive assistant for 2 years and company consulting product and coach and keynote speaker importer in my current company, I handle a lot of translation job. Translation has smoothly transited from a job to be my interest and focus. I am strengthening myself to be a simultaneous interpreter. Any knowledge could be an asset in my upcoming assignment, it’s never too much. “Urbanizing China” completely suits my needs to broaden my vision by learning the true and updated comparison given by our dedicated professor, TA and guest speakers. Sentimentally, as a grown-up, it helps me to love my country from knowing it objectively.

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Auyelbek Patullayev, Studying at Boston University Metropolitan College for Master of City Planning. Bachelor of Architecture (city planning, urban design) from Kazakh Academy of Architecture and Civil Engineering, Almaty, Kazakhstan. Interested in land use planning and transportation infrastructure. Have work experience in a couple of architectural organizations in and near my hometown of Talgar as an technician architect and architect-designer. I am a holder of governmental scholarship “Bolashak” from the government of Kazakhstan.


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Jingwei Zhang


I am a second year graduate student in the Master of City Planning program at BU. I went to University of Toronto for an undergraduate degree, majoring in both Environmental Science and Psychology. I came into planning with the aim to explore how planning could help foster sustainable behaviors and a better integrated society. Recently I got interested in the idea of “place-making”. I am in the Urbanizing China class because I am interested to learn problems that are embedded in Chinese urbanizing processes, which I personally think could present as warnings to the redevelopment processes in cities in the rest of the world.




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TA: Liyan Xu is a third-year doctoral student at the Department of Urban Studies and Planning of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). His research interests include urbanization and regional development in China, and the related land use and public finance issues. Before coming to MIT, Liyan had worked as a planner and project manager in Beijing, with experiences of 20+ projects on regional, urban, and land use planning. Liyan graduated from the Yuanpei Pilot Program in Science in Peking University and was awarded a Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering, and then obtained his Master Degree in Economic Geography from the College of Urban and Environmental Sciences in Peking University.

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Guest Speaker: Yuan Xiao is a doctoral candidate at the Department of Urban Studies and Planning of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Her research interests include property rights theories and practices, urbanization, land markets as well as urban and regional economics. Yuan Xiao's dissertation studies the latest land policy innovation in China, the land quota markets which have de-spatialized land transfers and have important social and economic implications for Chinese urbanization. Prior to coming to MIT, she worked for three years with the World Bank Institute in Washington D.C., focusing on capacity building and training programs in the field of urban management and planning for developing countries. Yuan obtained her master's degree in Political Science from University of Toronto, Canada. She was awarded a Bachelor’s Degree in International Politics and a concurrent Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from Peking (Beijing) University, China.

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Instructor: Jinhua Zhao is the Edward H. and Joyce Linde Career Development Assistnat Professor of urban planning at DUSP. He holds Master of Science, Master of City Planning and Ph.D. degrees from MIT and a Bachelor's degree from Tongji University. He studies travel behavior and transportation policy, public transit management, and China’s urbanization and mobility. He sees transportation as a language, to describe a person, to characterize a city, and to understand an institution. His current project examines the interaction between policy making by the governments and behavioral response from the public in the context of China’s urban development. He very much enjoys working with students. He is opening a new course at DUSP: Urbanizing China: A Reflective Dialogue.