Approaching the Human City - September 2015

Approaching the Human City is the Beijing-based studio for International Urbanization, a collaboration between Stanford University and Tsinghua University.

A rapidly urbanizing world calls for both humanistic and technological approaches to the twenty-first century city.  In September 2015, Stanford University Urban Studies instructors Deland Chan and Kevin Hsu will lead an interdisciplinary workshop in Beijing with the theme, Approaching the Human City, where U.S. and Chinese students will examine sustainable urban development at a human scale. This workshop is open to undergraduate and graduate students. Chan and Hsu developed the curriculum in collaboration with faculty in the School of Civil Engineering and Academy of Art and Design at Tsinghua University. 

Workshop participants will support Beijing-based community partners in their existing efforts to enhance quality of life in urban environments. They will learn from local communities, meet with sustainability experts, and collaborate with multi-sector stakeholders to understand people’s behaviors and interactions with the city. Multinational teams will explore sustainability topics such as urban mobility, air quality, and cultural preservation while honing their observation, empathy, and prototyping skills in urban spaces. Through a series of interactive labs, each team will devise creative metrics to describe urban phenomena, learn about the human needs of diverse user groups, and produce a variety of media to describe life in Beijing. Students will also practice ethical approaches to sustainable community development, using frameworks that are inclusive, participatory, and strive to benefit human communities.

The Beijing workshop will culminate in a final presentation and guided exhibition at Tsinghua University on September 19. After the workshop, students will continue their involvement by enrolling in the International Urbanization Seminar in the Fall, a 10-week course taught by Chan and Hsu where urban sustainability projects will be developed with community partners based in Beijing. Now offered in its fourth year, the course is cross-listed with Civil and Environmental Engineering, Earth Systems, and International Policy Studies and draws students from across the Stanford campus. The class will culminate in the Human Cities  Expo at Stanford in December 2015.

For more information, visit:


Clean Air Asia
China Sustainable Transportation Center
Cinnovate / Intel China
The Courtyard Institute
Energy Foundation
Natural Resources Defense Council