ISSUES2015 No.3
Editor’s Note: In China, urban planning education emerged in the early 20th century after modern urban planning was introduced from the West in the late 19th century, following the Western colonization in China, and then practiced through the construction of international concessions and leased territories in a number of Chinese cities. It became institutionalized in the 1950s, in order to meet the actual demand of the country’s socio-economic development. After a suspension in the mid-1960s due to the interruption of the Cultural Revolution, it was resumed in the late 1970s when China initiated the policy of reform and opening-up. Following a slow revitalization in the 1980s, it has seen a rapid development since the 1990s. Along with China’s rapid urbanization, the numbers of both planning schools and planning graduates of Bachelor degree increased considerably. In 2010, there were more than 200 schools in China offering some kind of education in urban planning. However, the quantitative development of planning schools did not necessarily lead to a high-level qualitative education. By the end of 2010, less than 1/6 of the total planning schools passed the national accreditation. Moreover, being firstly based in architecture schools, urban planning had been taught for a long time as a branch of architecture, with focus on the visual aesthetics and engineering technologies of space. Although geography and forestry schools started to offer urban planning programs respectively in the 1980s and 1990s, which accounted for an increasing percentage of the total planning schools in recent years, and the theories of geography, sociology, economics, management, environment, and ecology were gradually introduced to urban planning, which greatly expanded its academic scope, the status of urban planning as a branch of architecture was not touched till 2011. This to some extent hindered the due development of urban planning in China as a modern discipline. In view that China’s sustainable urbanization requires comprehensive and inter-disciplinary professional talents of urban-rural planning, the Academic Degrees Committee Office of China’s State Council upgraded urban planning into a first-level discipline parallel to architecture when restructuring China’s disciplinary system in 2011. This is an epoch-making point in the development of urban planning in China for potential transformations to deal with the new challenges of socio-economic transition, and also an opportunity to tackle the problems in China’s current urban planning education.

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