"Get to Know the GoBo"
Special Planner Profile Series
Weiping Wu is Professor and Director of the Urban Planning Program in the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation at Columbia University. She is internationally known for her research on global urbanization with specific expertise in migration, housing, and infrastructure of Chinese cities. Author and editor of seven books, most recently of The Chinese City (Routledge 2012), which offers a critical understanding of China’s urbanization and explores how the complexity of Chinese cities conforms to and defies conventional urban theories and experience of cities elsewhere.
Currently Wu is the President of ACSP. She also has been a Public Intellectuals fellow of the National Committee on US–China Relations and a consultant to the Ford Foundation, Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, and World Bank. Before joining Columbia University in 2016, she held faculty positions at Tufts University and Virginia Commonwealth University.
Q: How long have you been a member of ACSP?
A: 25 years
Q: Are you involved on the ACSP Board or ACSP Committee?
A: Currently I serve as the President of ACSP, after two years as the Vice President and President Elect. My first interaction with the ACSP Governing Board actually started when I became a JPER editor in 2008, which made me an ex-officio member of the board. At various times, I served on the ACSP Review and Appraisal Committee, ACSP Distinguished Planning Educator Award committee, Search Committee for JPER Editors, Diversity Committee, Gill-Chin Lim Student Travel Award Committee, and Task Force on Global Education in Planning, as well as a co-chair of Global Planning Educators’ Interest Group (GPEIG).
Q: Have you won any awards?
A: I am a Provost Leadership Fellow at Columbia University, and was a Neubauer Faculty Fellow at Tufts University.
Q: What’s your favorite project that you’ve worked on?
A: In 1998, I took a research leave from my then academic post and joined the writing team for the 1999/2000 World Development Report. Just about every morning a half dozen of us would gather to brainstorm about development challenges faced by different world regions and countries. Then we wrote numerous drafts for the report: white cover, yellow cover, and so on, in a matter of weeks. It was the most intense, yet exciting experience.
Q: What future goals do you have in your field?
A: I would like to reiterate the three agenda items for my ACSP presidency:
- Globalizing and diversifying to an inclusive planning academy.
- Enlarging public engagement and presence, to become the intellectual source for grappling with serious practical issues.
- Educating planners for emerging roles, to prepare them as change agents with new knowledge bases and skills.
Q: What did you want to be when growing up?
A: College professor – I often joke with colleagues and students that I have never left school.
Q: How many cities have you lived in and which was your favorite?
A: Quite a few, maybe about ten. The Big Apple is definitely my favorite American city, while my hometown Shanghai is my favorite Chinese city. Density, diversity, public transport, good food, love them all.
Q: If you could travel anywhere in the word, where would you go and why?
A: Rome, for now. I was totally surprised by how much I enjoyed my first visit to Rome last spring. A city where the past and present co-exist so beautifully. The Pantheon right in the middle of bustling downtown, and the Colosseum with the amazing ancient concrete technology that we still cannot figure out today.
Q: What was the title of the last book you read? What did you learn from it?
A: Fear City: New York’s Fiscal Crisis and the Rise of Austerity Politics, by Kim Phillips-Fein. It pinpoints the perils of our federal-state-local relations that continue to plague many American inner cities.
Q: What’s your favorite color and how would you creatively incorporate it into a planning project?
A: Over time, this has changed, from blue to purple to black now. I am exploring the different shades of black of late, and try to build them into the various documents for the planning program I direct. It’s like going back to the minimalist aesthetics of the modern era (smile).
Read more from the ACSP Planner Profile series on our website.