The global urban world is more interconnected than ever before. At UC Berkeley, international delegations visit the campus on a daily basis, and the percentage of international students in the Berkeley student body has grown over time. The College of Environmental Design has one of the highest shares of international students at the undergraduate level, and we train a sizable number of international students at the graduate level as well.
Recently, we decided to extend our global reach by launching two new educational programs for undergraduate students and professionals from outside the United States. Our Global Access Program (GAP) is designed for undergraduate students from international universities who wish to be immersed in CED – and get a sense of what a top US environmental design program is like – for a semester. These carefully screened environmental design students enroll in pre-selected undergraduate courses that have open seats, in one of three tracks: Architecture, Landscape Architecture, or City Planning/Urban Studies. Architecture- and Landscape Architecture-track students complete an upper division integrated studio, while City Planning/Urban Studies-track students take a client project-based workshop. In addition, students studying another major can gain intellectual breadth by spending a semester at CED focused on the history and social dynamics of environmental design.
We welcomed our first five GAP students for the 2017 spring semester at CED. All from top-tier environmental design programs in Asia, they have had a rich and exciting educational experience – plus lectures, career events, field trips, baseball games, and much more. According to this small cohort, their CED experience, with its emphasis on critical thinking and creative process, is quite different from that offered by their home institutions, which focus more on practical skills. We anticipate at least 15 GAP students will join us at CED this coming fall term.
Also this semester, we are offering our first Global Leadership Institute program for international mid-career professionals. Increasingly, senior public officials in the developing world are interested in having their high-level staff learn from, and interact with, faculty, researchers, and professionals associated with top US universities. In collaboration with the Goldman School of Public Policy, which has an extraordinarily successful program for public policy professionals from abroad, we will provide a 2-week course on Affordable Housing for 20 housing officials from the State of Maharashtra, India.
Led by Ophelia Basgal, regional administrator of the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Region IX (Pacific/Hawaii) from 2010-2016, the program will include faculty lectures on affordable housing policy and finance, the history of social housing, pre-fabricated construction technologies, sustainable design, and public-private partnerships, as well as field study trips. Participants will also visit significant Bay Area affordable housing and development projects, the San Francisco Federal Reserve, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab’s FLEXLAB for testing the energy efficiency of building components and systems, and a major off-site housing construction factory (Factory_OS). We look forward to mounting the second program in September, and more – and on other topics – in the years to come.
Our goal is to provide high caliber programs of critical value to international students, public officials, and professionals. Given our wealth of faculty talent, and the dynamic environment of the San Francisco Bay Area, we are confident that we will deliver on that goal!