March 20, 2023

Harvard MIT UBC Urban China Conference 2023


Harvard MIT UBC Urban China Conference 2023: 

Has planning guided China's urbanization?

Where: Harvard University Campus, Cambridge, MA

China’s rapid urbanization has come with a stunning assortment of plans: urban plans, land plans, economic plans, demographic planning, and so forth.  At the same time, China’s urbanization has also been characterized by a large amount of activity outside of these plans: informal construction, widespread migration, informal land uses, among others.  This conference aims to put research across various aspects of Chinese urbanization into dialogue around a unifying question: To what extent has planning guided China’s urbanization? Have plans driven urban development or have the cities we observe today developed in contravention to—or in compromise with—planning?

This conference brings together scholars conducting cutting-edge research on urban China to learn from and improve one another’s work. The one-day event will feature several themed panels, each including original research presentations, comments from a discussant, and time for engagement with other conference participants. Thanks to the generous support of the MIT Sustainable Urbanization Lab, the School of Community and Regional Planning at UBC and the Harvard Fairbank Center, we are able to offer several modest travel awards (300 USD), competitively selected by the conference organizing committee.

The conference will be held in person on March 20th, 2023 at the Harvard University Campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts. We invite the submission of abstracts by all interested.  Please upload an extended abstract (500 words) by December 15th via this form: While participants will present one paper each, individuals are welcome to submit multiple abstracts for consideration.  Submissions will be screened for quality and completeness. To facilitate in-depth discussion, please note that we require a full draft manuscript by March 1st, 2023. 

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to SCARP Assistant Professor Julia Harten at julia(dot)harten(at)

Important Dates

  • Abstract Submission                 December 15th, 2022
  • Abstract Decisions                    Mid-January, 2023
  • Full Paper Submission             March 1st, 2023

Confirmed Discussants

  • HOU Li, Tongji University
  • Meg Rithmire, Harvard Business School
  • Nick Smith, Barnard College, Columbia University
  • ZHENG Siqi, MIT Center for Real Estate and MIT Sustainable Urbanization Lab

Organizing Committee

  • Julia Harten
  • Nie Xuanyi
  • Saul Wilson
  • Zhang Guanchi

Date & Time

Mon, March 20

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