Overview I am working in Iloilo, Philippines this summer through a partnership (click through for story) between the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service (UACS) of Little Rock, and the Canadian Urban Institute (CUI) of Toronto.
It is through this partnership that I became the first American to intern with CUI’s international program in its twenty-year history, an honor which could not have been done without the great work of the leaders in both institutions and some random luck on my end. At the beginning of my first year at UACS I wanted to do a project for school in Canada since there are so many world-leading projects in the field of environmental urban planning there and would also be a pragmatic place for me to build my professional network. I applied to about ten different organizations in Canada and for a long time either never heard back from them or just didn’t really click with their proposed projects. About talking with several of my classmates who were in their second year in the program, however, I decided that I would really grow a lot from working in a developing nation, and it was just when I decided to look at different projects outside of North America that I heard back from CUI. I somehow never realized they had an international component until they had sent me potential projects that would place me all over the globe. After reading through a stack of project proposals I felt that I really connected what was going on with their partnership in Iloilo. Then after an extensive application process they offered me to join – and the rest is history!!
So now, this summer I will be working along side many fantastic people in pursuit of constructing a sustainable urban development plan for the Iloilo-Guimaras Bioregion, consisting of Metro Iloilo-Guimaras and the Tigum-Aganum Watershed (a bioregion is a recently establish concept that considers the overlap of metropolitan areas and ecological regions, e.g. watersheds, ecosystems, to provide a comprehensive approach to regional planning and policy for both urban and natural areas). I will be working with the Tigum-Aganum Watershed Management Board in collecting secondary data from municipal, civic, private, academic groups on the physical, economic, social, and cultural frameworks for a State of the Watershed Report, creating a thematic maps on areas at risk of flooding, geo-hazards, riparian and flood zones along the Tiugm and Aganum Rivers, land uses, livelihood projects sponsored by government and non-governmental agencies and institutions, and other pertinent data. I will also facilitate focus groups with residents of the Bioregion to gauge public perceptions on the state of the watershed and bioregional issues .
The Clinton School is a six-year old program that offers the first Master’s of Public Service degree in the States, emphasizing heavily on applied learning in the field. This program is is similiar to a public policy-conscious, public administration program but looks beyond ways of doing things most efficiently and looks at how to do things in a new way that will enable institutions to become agents of social change. This project abroad is the second of three projects required for this program.
The Canadian Urban Institute is the leading applied urban planning nonprofit in Canada and was formerly a government program founded in 1990. The organization is “an innovator and catalyst engaged in research, networking, leadership development, planning and policy solutions to improve the quality of life in urban regions in Canada and around the world.”