Instructor Comments

by Hazel A. Morrow-Jones (OSU)

for the international City and Regional Planning exchange courses
between the Ohio State University and the Technical University at Dresden
in the H-Urban Teaching Center Syllabus Archive

Sustainable Urban Development
International Exchange Courses between the Ohio State University and the Technical University at Dresden

The Ohio State University (OSU) and the Technical University at Dresden, Germany (TUD) have an ongoing series of international exchange classes under the over-arching theme of “Sustainable Urban Development”. While the syllabus for each class is available, we thought it would be useful to provide a general overview of the course.

Each year the OSU and TUD faculty determine a class theme and six group topics within the context of sustainable urban development. During the spring term each university holds a seminar for its students using this structure. There are approximately 12 students in each of the two seminars, so two students from each country work on each group topic. The students work together via e-mail until the two classes hold the first of several all-class video conferences. All exchanges are conducted in English.

These are the themes of the course over its first six years (each theme name is a link to the syllabus for that class):

For a complete look at the images, posters, and updates that accompany the syllabi for this course, see the OSU web site at:

The first of the video conferences focuses on introducing everyone and discussing questions such as: What differentiates U.S. and European cities from each other? Later conferences combine lectures by the faculty or guest speakers and discussion.

Once students have been introduced to the video conferencing technology in the whole-class setting, they have access to the equipment for small group conferences any time they wish. The level of communication improves tremendously at this point – even the e-mail exchanges are improved by the video conference experience.

In June, the OSU class travels to Dresden to work with the TUD class. By this time the student groups have produced background papers (one for each country) on their topics. In Germany we take field trips together but each of the six groups also has a field project on their topic to complete in the two weeks of the trip. At the end the groups make presentations at a workshop at the Institute of Ecological and Regional Research (IOER) in Dresden. The workshop attendees include public officials, faculty, other students and many of the people the students have worked with during their time in Dresden. Each group also produces a poster for the workshop and for display in both countries. In August, the TUD class travels to Columbus for two weeks to repeat the process on the western side of the Atlantic.

After all of the traveling and research, the student groups produce final papers on their topics incorporating the background information, the two field studies, and a comparison of the results for the two countries. These papers are available as a working paper series at the IOER (web site or contact information would be good here).

Prepared 6 January 2003; updated 14 October 2004.