ICT-Enabled Cross-Cultural Education in Sustainable Urbanization


(2017) ICT-Enabled Cross-Cultural Education in Sustainable Urbanization


Li, Nan, Deland Chan, Kevin Hsu, Zhiyong Fu, and Quan Mao. "ICT-Enabled Cross-Cultural Education in Sustainable Urbanization." In Computing in Civil Engineering 2017, pp. 43-50.


ABSTRACT — Cities cover three percent of the world’s land, yet are responsible for up to eighty percent of global greenhouse gas emissions and seventy-five percent of natural resource consumption. They impact air and water quality, alter resource consumption patterns, and pose unique challenges for the environment, energy, and infrastructure. Addressing these challenges requires understanding the city as the nexus of environmental context, built infrastructure, and human communities, which can only be achieved by close collaboration among educated professionals from a wide range of related domains. This paper describes the experiences of a university course that was developed to prepare students from diverse academic backgrounds to understand the nature of and learn the required skills to address sustainable urbanization challenges. The course, which was partially online enabled by the latest information and communications technology (ICT), was jointly offered by three academic departments at Tsinghua University and Stanford University. The course used Beijing and the Bay Area as two case studies, which offered students a unique cross-cultural and cross-disciplinary educational experience. Within the context of this course, students formed multinational teams, collaborated remotely, and explored sustainability topics such as air quality, urban mobility and transport, and cultural heritage buildings. The teams developed creative solutions to their chosen topics, presented them in the Human Cities Expo at Stanford University, and tested their validity in the case cities in consultation with local experts, scholars, and non-government organizations community partners. Lessons learned during this teaching experience, in terms of the role of ICT infrastructure in supporting online teaching, the management of cross-disciplinary in-class collaboration, and the value of conducting cross-cultural comparative studies, are discussed at the end of the paper.

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