Columbus State’s Amanda Rees Selected to Study Urban Development in India

Prof. Amanda ReesA Columbus State University professor preparing to study urban development in India plans to share the new insight with students next fall, as well as broaden her perspective for a Columbus city government initiative.

Amanda Rees, an associate professor of geography in CSU’s Department of History and Geography, will participate in “The Historical and Cultural Development of Modern India," a summer institute in Delhi sponsored by the National Endowment of the Humanities .

According to the NEH, Rees was “selected from a highly competitive national applicant pool” for the July 4-29 program.

She intends to explore New Delhi – “to focus on the urban development of modern India," she said. "I'm also interested in popular cultural representations of cities, and I'm excited to be meeting a Bollywood director and finding out more about the role of urban spaces in Indian cinema.”
Rees said film representations of city life “can be a very powerful tool to convey challenging urban problems” for the senior-graduate-level course she teaches at CSU, “especially when we can’t just drop in to do a field trip.”

Undergraduates taking her world regional geography course also will get added insight. “I do my best work when I can see, touch, smell, taste, and hear the places I teach about,” she said. “To be fully immersed in that place allows me to weave relevant personal experiences, with lectures and case studies.”

In addition to teaching, Rees said her India trip also stands to strengthen her role as chairperson for CSU’s International Learning Community, part of the Center for International Education. The ILC involves faculty from across the university teaching international-oriented courses and developing extracurricular activities to support those courses.

Off campus, Rees will look to apply her experience to Columbus’ Neighborhood Stabilization and Improvement Commission. She recently accepted Mayor Teresa Tomlinson's invitation to serve on the commission, which formed earlier this year with a mission to develop “innovative policies, practices or procedures that fight blight, sustain property values, create safe environments and otherwise stabilize and improve existing neighborhoods.” Rees said India may reveal some helpful clues. “There are always interesting strategies that people are applying to urban development all over the world,” she said. "Borrowing and sharing those ideas can be very productive.”

Rees knows this well, as she recently returned from a semester at the University of Oxford, where she took part in the Said School of Business’s “The Future of Cities” seminar.  She also gave a talk to the university’s new Urban Sustainable Development master’s program, which was filled with students from around the world, including India.

“Delhi is a powerful example of a mega city. With about 14 million people, it is becoming one of the top five global mega cities in terms of its population.” said Rees. “It’s an amazing opportunity to understand a ‘developing world’ city, and how people make a life in such densely populated and challenging conditions.”

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