Megacities and the Challenge of Urbanizing 250 Million Chinese

One focus of the 10th Annual Beijing Forum was China’s urbanization, both the profound challenges raised by China’s megacities such as Beijing and Shanghai, whose populations number more than 20 million residents, as well as the government’s national policy of rapid urbanization. China plans to move 250 million people from rural to urban locations by 2025; this means moving about 20 million farmers per year. Many of these locations will be newly constructed towns and cities that require the establishment of an infrastructure of schools, hospitals, roads, and public transportation, as well as jobs for incoming migrants.

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By Lily M. Hoffman

Lily M. Hoffman is an associate professor and director of the MA program in sociology at the Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership and faculty member at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Her research interests include urban redevelopment and comparative urban policy focusing on the U.S. and post-communist Eastern Europe. Hoffman, who chaired the urban and community section of the American Sociological Association and who is coeditor of Cities and Visitors: Regulating People, Markets and City Space, was invited to present her current work this fall at the 10th Annual Beijing Forum. The forum, entitled “The Harmony of Civilizations and Prosperity for All—Retrospect and Prospect,” brought together scholars, public officials, and experts from more than 40 countries. While in Beijing, Hoffman reflected on some of the many issues facing megacities:

During my week in Beijing, I experienced two relatively smog-less blue-sky days, when minimal numbers of residents wore protective masks and when the air was less acrid than usual. I was there for the 10th Beijing Forum, cosponsored by Peking University, the city of Beijing, and the Korea Foundation, and held at the Diaoyutai State Guest House, where Nixon “met” China during his historic 1972 visit.

One focus of the forum was China’s urbanization, both the profound challenges raised by China’s megacities such as Beijing and Shanghai, whose populations number more than 20 million residents, as well as the government’s national policy of rapid urbanization. China plans to move 250 million people from rural to urban locations by 2025; this means moving about 20 million farmers per year. Many of these locations will be newly constructed towns and cities that require the establishment of an infrastructure of schools, hospitals, roads, and public transportation, as well as jobs for incoming migrants. Continue reading “Megacities and the Challenge of Urbanizing 250 Million Chinese”

My Mandela Moments

In that airport lounge I remembered Nelson Mandela as I saw him on June 21, 1990. I had been privileged to be invited to a town meeting at City College. I can still feel the incredible excitement that took over when he walked, smiling and waving, onto the stage. But one of the moments I remember best was his exasperation at a question regarding his visits to Yasser Arafat, Fidel Castro and Muammar Gaddafi. “They support our struggle to the hilt,” he sternly responded. And added, as the room erupted in applause, “any man who changes his principles according to whom he is dealing with that is not a man who can lead a nation.” And a nation, he did lead, on a path that only he could imagine.

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by Sylviane A. Diouf, Curator of Digital Collections, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture (Excerpted with permission from original post on NYPL’s Africa and the African Diaspora blog)

[ED: Nelson Mandela passed away December 5. With his death, a number of in memoriams and reflection pieces have been published across the webisphere, including this piece by Sylviane A. Diouf, Curator of Digital Collections at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. She reflects on seeing Mandela at a town meeting at City College of New York in 1990. Read an excerpt of her piece below and visit the New York Public Library’s website to read it in its entirety.]

I learned of Nelson Mandela’s passing while waiting for my delayed flight at Atlanta Airport. I thought how much his painful and extraordinary life had exposed the terrible danger that faced those who fought for the rights, the dignity and the freedom of people of African origin or descent. That despairing reality was made all the more vivid because I was coming back to New York after several days spent with Kathleen Cleaver, immersed in documents and photographs from the Black Power Movement Continue reading “My Mandela Moments”

What do we mean by ‘Human Rights’?

There were a couple points of resonance that emerged in discussions as we began to organize the Human Rights forum. First, we agreed that regardless of whether our disciplines were more “humanistic” or “scientific,” so much of our engagement as administrators, advisors, faculty, staff, and professionals involves human rights. Second, we realized we must first raise an elementary question: “What do we mean by human rights?”

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Updated 11/15: View a webcast of the first Human Right forum event here.

By Alessandra Benedicty, assistant professor of literature; director of Masters program in the Study of the Americas at the Division of Interdisciplinary Studies, Center for Worker Education, City College of New York

The “Human Rights: A Yearlong Forum at City College of New York” series is, first and foremost, an invitation, and then, as most invitations are, a gesture. The invitation is to all those who are in our City College community—faculty, students, advisors, staff, alumni, community member, or just a visitor passing through—to partake in this yearlong forum. The gesture is offering a space for all to listen, learn, and exchange within the CUNY system, but also with and alongside specialists and friends of our larger extended community. Continue reading “What do we mean by ‘Human Rights’?”