The course sequence involves a close partnership between Kota Kita, Professor Beard, and participating students. Kota Kita engages with students pre-departure, accompanies them on a two-week study trip in Solo as they carry out fieldwork, and continues to offer input and support after they return. While the overall purpose of the workshop, in Professor Beard’s words, is “to expose students to the complexity as well as the nuances of planning with poor communities in the global South,” the workshop primarily focuses on riverbank communities in Solo.
Due to the continued expansion of informal settlements in Indonesia and the consequent dependence of many of their residents on local waterways for water and sanitation, this focus on riverbank communities helps students develop tools necessary to understand urban issues facing poor communities in numerous contexts. The recent planning process in Solo, undertaken by the then-mayor, now President of Indonesia Joko Widodo, makes the city a particularly interesting and rich place to study urbanization and planning.
Past workshops have resulted in tangible deliverables such as exhibitions, memos communicating findings to the Indonesian stakeholders, and an Advocacy Planning Handbook. This handbook, created in collaboration with Kota Kita, shares pro-poor and advocacy planning experiences with Indonesian activists working for underprivileged and underrepresented communities. Given the dynamic nature of the ongoing partnership of the course, the outcomes of each year are different as students appreciate firsthand how planners can work for social transformation through two-way exchanges of knowledge, people, and experiences.