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City Centered

Can European urban developers learn anything from San Diego's experience?
A city street in La Spezia, Italy
A city street in La Spezia, Italy
A quick glance at the image above tells you you’re not in San Diego anymore—or anywhere else remotely close to home. (In fact, you’re in La Spezia, Italy).

Given the intrinsic differences between American and European cityscapes, can urban development officials in Italy or Finland learn anything from San Diego’s track record of community revitalization? Possibly so.

In August, SDSU will host more than 10 European university faculty members as they tour San Diego neighborhoods, meet government and civic leaders, talk to community members and gather data on commercial centers and tools for urban regeneration.

A few months later, Ph.D. students from four universities in Italy, Finland and the United Kingdom will visit for up to six months to conduct targeted research in the School of Public Affairs. The results will inform their future work on the redevelopment of European urban centers.

SDSU faculty have asked city managers in the San Diego region to submit redevelopment projects for teams of SDSU and European students to pursue.

“This initiative advances SDSU’s efforts to grow as a global university while still serving our local community,” said Mounah Abdel-Samad, assistant professor and director of SDSU’s Institute of Public and Urban Affairs.

“We think the European students will bring a fresh perspective to the projects as they learn from their American partners.”

The visiting European faculty and students are supported by a three-year Marie Curie Excellence Grant from the European Commission, designed to support European research teams working on cutting-edge and interdisciplinary research. The two American institutions involved—SDSU and Northeastern University—will lead the grant’s steering committee.

“The advantages San Diego brings to the table are our proximity to the Mexican border and our extremely diverse nature as a kind of resettlement center for many different peoples,” said Abdel-Samad.

The European universities participating are the Aalto University in Finland, the University of Salford Manchester in England, and the universities of Reggio Calabria and Rome in Italy.
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