2nd-year MCRP students partner with CEPT planning students in India

Second-year MCRP students traveled to India recently to take on two studio projects with students from the Center for Environmental and Planning Technology (CEPT) University. Georgia Tech and CEPT students worked for two intense weeks gathering data and learning about Ahmedabad, a city of western India that is growing quickly in population and geographic area.

The students looked at two different issues in the city. One group focused on the history of Mahatma Ghandi, his impact on the city, and how that piece of history might be commemorated and kept alive through preservation of Ghandi’s Salt March that occurred in 1930. On the southwest periphery of the city, students observed political pressure to redevelop a slum settlement surrounding Thaltej lake into a recreational destination. Both groups reviewed plans and conducted interviews pertaining to their study areas. This semester the students will use their experience and data to undertake studio projects to result in short- and long-term planning for the two sites.

The trip and program was organized by Georgia Tech Professor of the Practice Michael Dobbins and by CEPT University Professor Madhu Barti. Reflecting on the program, Michael Dobbins shares, “Our students must be offered the opportunity to experience the dynamism of India, a nation grappling with tumultuous change and a crying need for planning and development policies and practices to guide its advances.”

In late January, the participating students presented on their experiences in India as travelers and as students of urban planning, highlighting observations on land use, transportation, urban design, housing, economic development, and the environment. They also reviewed examples of planning efforts, including the Town Planning Scheme process and Lavasa – a new, resort-like town built from scratch.  Their discussion of preliminary data findings for the studio on the Salt March path and the Thaltej settlement revealed complex planning challenges arising from the pressures of a growing, modernizing city set on older settlements and traditions.

Students enjoyed traveling before and after the two-week program in Ahmedabad and benefited especially from the personal relationships and cultural exchange with the CEPT students. MCRP student Eugene McGuinness (MCRP class of ’12) said, “I was intrigued that the students were a very cosmopolitan group. There were many students from different states and backgrounds, much like Georgia Tech students. It was also refreshing to spend time with other university students who shared our rather nuanced range of interests.”

John Kent (MCRP class of ’12) reflected on his exchanges with CEPT students and shared, “Surprisingly, we had more culturally in common with the Indian students than we did academically. We found ourselves laughing at the same Southpark jokes while disagreeing on planning theory.”

A presentation at the conclusion of the semester will show students' recommendations moving forward for the two project areas.

The students’ presentation can be downloaded here.

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Professor Michael Dobbins