As director of the Program on Chinese Cities, an initiative within UNC-Chapel Hill’s Center for Urban and Regional Studies and Department of City and Regional Planning to study urbanization in China, Yan Song has seen how the evolution of networks has impacted city design as well as the natural environment. Song’s work with smart, sustainable cities and land development and management have helped her understand the importance of networks on physical, social, societal and developmental levels. She founded the program in 2008 to provide Chinese scholars the opportunity to observe and study these kinds of networks at UNC-Chapel Hill.
“Half the (Chinese) population is living in cities now,” she says. “That number is projected to grow to 70 percent in the next twenty years.”
Many things happen behind the scenes of urbanization. City development struggles to meet the needs of the people, not simply in terms of population growth, but with regard to resources and health. The program’s mission is to document these phenomena through research and observation, analyze the date with respect to current issues and policies, and use its findings to influence urban development policies and practices in China.
Song expresses concerns about the global implications of China’s rapid metropolitan development, which led her to expand the program. Over the course of ten years, the program’s urban planning research has grown to encompass other disciplines including environmental science, regional science, urban economics, transportation and ecologic planning.
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The Center for Urban and Regional Studies conducts and supports research on urban and regional affairs—research that helps to build healthy, sustainable communities across the country and around the world.
Created in 1957, the Center for Urban and Regional Studies is one of the oldest university-based research centers of its kind. The Center’s mission is to promote and support, within The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, high-quality basic and applied research on urban, regional and rural planning and policy issues.
The Center seeks to generate new knowledge of urban and regional processes and problems and ultimately to improve living conditions in our communities. This is done by involving the University’s faculty and graduate students in large, multidisciplinary research projects and smaller, more narrowly focused projects. The Center’s mission also includes promoting the use of the research it facilitates.