Field-Based Course Work and Research Abroad

In its teaching, DURP seeks not simply to introduce students to international and transnational planning issues but also to enhance experiential knowledge and learning by actively involving students in varied aspects of urban and regional development around the world. Hence, to enhance the global dimension of its curriculum it offers several outlets for students to study planning and planning-related issues in different cultural, political, and economic contexts. These range from participation in exchange programs where students spend a semester or a year at another institution overseas, to participation in short study abroad courses for periods ranging from a few weeks to a few months or a semester; to research based study at partner institutions through the NEURUS program. In most instances, the coursework and research undertaken through these outlets abroad fulfill DURP graduation requirements. In other words, participation does not extend the time needed to complete degree requirements.

Research based study abroad

NEURUS: Network for European-United States Regional & Urban Studies, is heavily focused on applied research as opposed to conventional student exchange. Participating DURP students are typically in their second year of the MUP program or a PhD candidate interested in investigating a specific comparative issue. NEURUS students will spend the fall semester executing a comparative research project at a participating European university. In addition to designing and executing a comparative research project, students have the option (but are not required) to take courses at their host university, including language courses. Students will also travel to and participate in a fall and spring seminar to receive feedback on their work from NEURUS faculty and other participating students. DURP students receive UIUC course credit for their research comparable to a full courseload in the semester while conducting research abroad. Students accepted into the NEURUS program are responsible for the cost of airfare, travel, and acoommodations during their semester abroad, and for the cost of travel to a program meeting in the United States upon their return. Students may incorporate other campus funding sources such as a FLAS Fellowship to support their study abroad. For more information, consult Professor Andrew Greenlee, DURP's NEURUS Program Coordinator or Professor Brian Deal, Landscape Architecture's NEURUS Program Coordinator. NEURUS universities outside the United States include:

  • Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany
  • University of Groningen, The Netherlands
  • Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration, Austria

Answers to UIUC-specific questions regarding admissions, academic requirements, funding and travel arrangements and experiences, as well as former UIUC NEURUS alumni reports are available at the Student Information Portal.

Universidad Autónoma de Sinaloa (UAS), Mexico: DURP students interested in conducting research in Mexico will have the opportunity to work with faculty at the Center for the Study of Globalization and Regional Development at the School of International Relations and Public Policy, Universidad Autonoma de Sinaloa located in Culiacan. DURP students will discuss their research interest with interested faculty here at DURP and with faculty at UAS. Once a research topic is agreed upon by the student and involved faculty at both institutions, DURP students can spend summer and/or winter breaks at UAS, and, with the help of UAS faculty, conduct field based research in Mexico, and receive independent study credit hours at UIUC. For financial support, students could apply to the Tinker Travel Grant and DURP International Travel Grant. From more information contact Professor Miraftab.

Short Study Abroad Courses

GLBL 298-Diversity and Inequality: South Africa (Summer Session I): DURP in conjuncture with LAS offers this study abroad course. In this course students will map memories and contemporary struggles against urban inequalities in post-apartheid Cape Town. After a brief historical survey of global and local forces producing uneven spatial and social inequalities in South Africa, students will visit the city of Cape Town to debate and map sites of past and contemporary struggles against urban inequalities. The course consists of six 3 hour pre-departure lectures on the historical relation between spatial planning practices and social inequalities in Cape Town, South Africa and a two-week field trip to Cape Town. The field trip will focus on debates and walking tours with survivors of forced removals now struggling to overcome new post-apartheid forms of social and spatial exclusion from the city. Student grades are assigned for a daily journal, reflective essays on assigned readings and production of an interactive map of sites of current struggles against persistent colonial, apartheid and neoliberal social inequalities. The course is directed by Ken Salo. Please contact Professor Salo for further information.


UP 428-International Planning Workshop: Collaborative Mapping of Inclusionary Zoning in Fortaleza, Brazil: For this workshop a group of graduate and undergraduate urban planning students of UIUC join urban planning students of UFC (Universidade Federal do Ceara) in Fortaleza, Brazil to collaborate with the residents of two favelas (informal settlements) in Fortaleza (Bom Jardim and Lagamar) and document the settlements and residents' demands. Through diverse mediums such as collaborative mapping and audiovisual recording students document the residents' urban challenges under the contentious implementation processes of the Right to the City provisions. These favelas, legally zoned to be of special social interest (ZEIS), face distinct urban challenges, such as lack of services, hazardous housing conditions and insecure tenure. The outcome of the workshop is of interest to the ongoing collaboration between UFC and the Municipal Planning agency (IPLANFOR) which has commissioned UFC to elaborate the Urban Plans for their local favelas. This workshop spans spring semester, when UFC and UIUC students collaborate virtually via on-line seminars, and two weeks in summer when they work together on site in Fortaleza. In 2019, the field component of this course was also supported by Lemann Institute for Brazilian Studies at UIUC. The course is directed by Ken Salo at UIUC and Clarissa Freitas at UFC. Please contact Professor Salo for further information.

 See archive of past international field-based courses offered.

Exchange Programs

UIUC has student exchange agreements with many universities around the world. DURP's active exchange programs are with universities in Europe and Korea (through NEURUS) catering to graduate students; with Mexico (through Universidad Autonoma de Sinaloa in Culiacan)  and Brazil (Universidade Federal do Ceara) catering to graduate and undergraduate students; and with British and Australian partners primarily catering to undergraduate students. DURP on a regular basis exchanges undergraduate students for a semester or a year with the following UK and Australian universities:

  • University of New South Wales, Australia
  • University of Queensland, Australia
  • University of Sheffield, United Kingdom
  • University of Manchester, United Kingdom

For more information consult the BAUP Study Abroad Opportunities webpage.

Other campus wide opportunities for study and research abroad

 In addition to the opportunities provided directly through DURP, students can participate in a range of study abroad and exchange programs facilitated through the Study Abroad Office on campus. Please see their website for more information.

To pursue study and research abroad, students are encouraged to search for other campus-wide opportunities through the International Studies Programs, area studies centers and programs and the Center for the Global Studies as well as Fulbright Program. See Campus Resources for International Programs and Activities.

Funding Opportunities

DURP International Travel Grant: Recognizing the educational value of field based research and work experience, yet the financial limitations students face to pursue this in contexts outside the United States, DURP has instituted an International Travel Grant. This fund provides up to $500 to one or two students who have identified exceptional opportunities for internship and/or research abroad to support their travel expenses. The competition for this grant is open to students in all degree programs at DURP but priority is given to students in the Transnational Planning Stream. For more information, contact Professor Miraftab. Students are encouraged to use this small grant with the funding they obtain through other sources, including the Graduate College Master's Project Travel Grant or other on- or off-campus.

Other on-campus funding opportunities include:


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