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Planning Education: Made in China?

A high school field trip in China that is hard to imagine in the United States.
Lisa Feldstein | June 26, 2014, 5am PDT
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My 16 year old daughter is in China for three weeks, traveling with 14 classmates on a language and cultural exchange. Their first week was spent in Qingdao, where each student stayed with a family that included a high school aged "buddy." On the second day of their stay, while their Chinese companions were in school, they took their first major field trip: the Qingdao City Planning Museum. According to one of the students:

Inside the exhibition hall, there was a huge non-scale model of Qingdao’s bay and the surrounding districts. A video played above, and some of the English subtitles continually described Qingdao as 'the blue dream.'...In the exhibition hall, there was also a 360° panorama of Qingdao. It was very similar to a virtual roller coaster...[A]...surprising number of local people [were] at the exhibition hall.

I have difficulty imagining a well-attended city planning exhibition in the United States (OK, maybe in Chicago). I frequently encounter adults who have no idea what city planners do, let alone teenagers. I am encouraged to know that Qingdao has a city planning museum, and it is both a popular destination and a place visited by school groups from other countries. China sends increasing numbers of students to U.S. planning schools to learn about our approaches to planning; perhaps we can learn something from China about planning education for lay people.

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