Saturday, January 09, 2010

City may play nursery for urban practitioners

City may play nursery for urban practitioners

Bangalore may soon sport a university exclusively dedicated to urbanisation and settlement studies, Vaishalli Chandra reports

Vaishalli Chandra

Think about this — India's urban population is expected to increase from 300 million to 800 million over the next 50 years. This means there is immense pressure on cityscapes to transform into quality living spaces.
Most of the urban population, however, is unaware of the complexities involved in running a city. Whether it is roads or public transport or housing or civic issues or environment, governance is handled by a select few.
As the numbers escalate, we will need a comprehensive troop of urban planners who ensure the smooth functioning of a city.
On Friday, the Indian Institute of Human Settlements (IIHS) announced its plans to establish a first-of-its kind university, in India as well as globally, that focuses on urbanisation and settlement issues. The objective is to produce problem solvers, innovators and entrepreneurs to streamline sustainability of urban spaces.
The IIHS is looking at setting up campuses in various parts of the country and is in talks with various state governments. IIHS plans to open its "mother" campus in the city, and other campuses is Mumbai, Delhi and Hyderabad.
The focus may be urban spaces, but it is committed to a policy of inclusion and equality of educational opportunities. It has a multi-curriculum that will reach non-English speaking learners. In fact, their website can be accessed in 12 languages, including two foreign languages.
While the new crop of graduates will take sometime to help in urban governance, IIHS's e-learning outreach programmes will facilitate mid-career participants, benefiting those already involved in urban planning. IIHS is collaborating with several top universities worldover like MIT School of Architecture + Planning and University College of London.
The academic programme is expected to commence in 2011. Urbanisation consultant Aromar Revi, who is also the director of IIHS, will be the first executive head of the new university and its allied institutions.
"Currently, departments are working in their own silos. These courses will bring out an individual who can relate and interlink different disciplines," said Revi, adding that with growing cities there is need for more integrated effort for smooth functioning, and graduates of these courses can find employment in private sectors — urban and infrastructure development, real estate, finance companies; public sector organisations such as state and central government; and, civil society institutions working on community issues.


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