For the second consecutive year, the Graham School of Continuing Liberal and Professional Studies, in partnership with the Paulson Institute, organized the Urban Sustainability Fellowship Program, a seminar focused on urban sustainability issues tailored to Chinese leaders. This year’s group was composed of 17 mayors, vice-mayors, and other members of the China Association of Mayors from Guangdong, China’s largest province.
The weeklong curriculum in Chicago represented the core part of a three-week program that started at Tshinghua University in Beijing and continued with site visits in Miami. During its time, the Graham School brought together the University of Chicago’s rich intellectual resources and local industry experts and practitioners to provide an offering that combined some of the latest research findings and theories on sustainability with real-world experience.
University faculty presented data on the historical development and urbanization phases of Chicago’s metropolitan region, on the political and financial structure of the city and the state of Illinois, and on climate changes and accompanying policies in the region. Local experts from the Chicago Department of Housing and Economic Development, the Department of Aviation, the Nature Conservatory, and the Mayor’s Office also addressed policy challenges related to land management, housing and transportation, water and energy, and socioeconomic mobility that impact local and regional communities.
In addition to participating in classroom seminars, the Chinese guests visited local institutions such as the Field Museum of Natural History, the Chicago Botanic Garden, as well as Motorola and Underwriters Laboratories, both corporations headquartered in the greater Chicagoland area. The multidisciplinary program exposed the participants to many facets of sustainable urbanization. It also created opportunities for the Chinese leaders to network with local economists, policy and corporate social responsibility experts, and other practitioners deeply involved in sustainability efforts. “The Graham School is dedicated to extending the University’s impact through facilitating global engagement. Programs such as this and partners such as the Paulson Institute are essential to making the University an intellectual destination,” stated Mark Nemec, Dean of the Graham School, during his address to the group.
Courses were offered on the Hyde Park campus, in the newly inaugurated Saieh Hall for Economics, and at the Gleacher Center in downtown Chicago. The program was sponsored by the Hyatt Corporation, the Energy Foundation, and Motorola. The Graham School intends to continue the collaboration with the Paulson Institute in the coming years and looks forward to welcoming similar groups to Chicago in the future.