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IGERT Trainees Participate in The Game Changers for "The Future City” project with the President of the Dominican Republic


During the Fall of 2011 the faculty and trainees of the Solving Urbanization Challenges By Design IGERT of the Columbia University participated in “The Game Changers for The Future City” project an effort spearheaded by the President of the Dominican Republic, Dr. Leonel Fernandez, designed to create a roadmap for the development and economic enhancement of the city and region of Puerto Plata.

IGERT students and faculty worked collaboratively with Funglode, Global Foundation for Democracy and Development, the first think tank established in the Dominican Republic by President Fernandez. Funglode is a private nonprofit organization dedicated to improving public policy and programming to promote sustainable development of the Dominican Republic and facilitate the creation and promotion of national development and artistic and cultural activities within the country. Through the Game Changers Project IGERT Trainees worked in teams with students from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation to develop unique design approaches to short and long term development for Puerto Plata. Students worked in teams to design examples of techniques that can be applied to address issues of urban systems presently impacting the city such as economic development, energy, transportation, and waste management.

The President of the Dominican Republic, Dr. Leonel Fernandez, invited the faculty, staff and trainees of the Urbanization IGERT to visit the Dominican Republic to work with Funglode’s staff to assess the country’s existing needs and plans for future development. Students met with government officials, architects, investors etc and local planners and engineers.

Student proposals were facilitated through the Ecology Studio, an IGERT course that is structured to enable students to the work collaboratively in a group consisting of architecture, engineering and urban planning students and professionals on an integrative design project along with project resources provided by the Urban Design Lab of the Earth Institute at Columbia University. The goal of the studio is to provide IGERT trainees with integrative research applications to compliment the tools and approaches that are introduced in the shared coursework. Through the studio experience and integrative courses, IGERT Trainees begin to form, and consolidate, interdisciplinary PhD dissertation topics that are both novel and relevant to urban stakeholders.