On Wednesday, October 21, 2020, more than 60 attendees gathered over livestream to hear Dr. Yingling Fan, a professor of urban and regional planning at the University of Minnesota, present on the topic, “Urbanization in the U.S. and China: What We Can Learn From Each Other.”

Dr. Fan began by comparing urbanization in the United States with the relatively recent and rapid urbanization that has taken place in China. Over the past 50 years, the proportion of China’s population living in urban areas has increased from 20% to 60%, a shift which occurred over the span of 100 years in the United States. Dr. Fan stressed that many of the issues facing Chinese cities today were seen in U.S. cities in the past. For example, whereas many Chinese cities today face issues with smog and air pollution, U.S. cities in the 1950s and 1960s dealt with similar environmental problems.

Next, Dr. Fan discussed challenges facing cities in the United States, including suburban sprawl, dependence on automobiles, gentrification, and the “dual city problem,” as the benefits of post-industrial development remain out of reach for some groups.

Finally, Dr. Fan discussed how China’s cities have adjusted to rapid urbanization, including the rise of megaregions, in which major cities are connected in an area of continuous development. Dr. Fan also shared lessons from her experience taking groups of American students to China, and shared insights from the students as they made sense of their observations and experiences.

In the Q-and-A session that followed, Dr. Fan answered questions on issues from the development of garden neighborhoods in China to how the COVID-19 pandemic may impact urban planning.

Associate Vice President and Dean of International Programs Meredith McQuaid delivered closing remarks, reflecting on the growth and change she has observed on her visits to China since the 1980s.

Watch a recording of the webinar


About the Speaker

Yingling FanDr. Yingling Fan is a professor of urban and regional planning at the University of Minnesota. Her research focuses on developing novel land use and transportation solutions to improve human health and social equity. Her interdisciplinary work has appeared in many leading academic journals across multiple fields. Fan’s recent work focuses on public transportation development, emotional well-being in cities, and community-engaged transportation equity research.