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Wilder School Hosts German Planning Students

A visit to the James River Park Pipeline Walkway was among the stops made by students and professors from the University of Kaiserslautern in Germany during their stay in Richmond.
A visit to the James River Park Pipeline Walkway was among the stops made by students and professors from the University of Kaiserslautern in Germany during their stay in Richmond.

For the fourth year, students from the University of Kaiserslautern in Germany recently spent a week with their counterparts at the Wilder School learning about the American planning system.

The 2017 Trans-Atlantic Development Seminar brought nine students and two professors from their university’s urban and regional development master program in Germany to Richmond June 4-10 as the guests of the Wilder School’s Master of Urban and Regional Planning program.

The visitors toured Richmond and the surrounding area, including meeting with officials from local planning and park offices, the state Department of Conservation and Recreation, Richmond Region Tourism and the Virginia Department of Health. They also spent time getting to know their student counterparts in the Wilder School.

Wilder School Dean John Accordino, Ph.D., FAICP, professor of urban planning, and Sarin Adhikari, Ph.D., research associate, opened the week-long visit with a session, “Introduction to Regional Development and Planning, Healthy Cities/Regions and Open Space in Planning.”

“We established the Trans-Atlantic Development Seminar as one way to promote learning and understanding of how other societies address public policy and planning challenges that are similar to ours,” Accordino said. “As we learn how other societies do things, and explain to students from other countries how we do them, we become better scholars and practitioners, and we develop lasting international professional relationships.

The German students and professors say they enjoyed their visit to Richmond and the opportunity to learn about the similarities and differences of planning in another country.

“Like the years before, it was a great opportunity for the students to meet with practitioners and people from VCU to discuss current topics of urban and regional development in the U.S. and to reflect on current topics in Germany and the U.S.,” said Professor Kirsten Mangles.

Said Jakob Schackmar, a student, “As far as I’m concerned, you can only learn about overseas planning systems as far as books tell you, but you can only understand them when you go there and experience it first-hand.”