The IPUG Advantages

  • Focused Objectives
  • With the increasing population residing in cities, the challenge of improving urban settings is so immense that the current urban governance practice needs innovative ways of understanding the workings of cities and taking actions accordingly. The mission of the International Program on Urban Governance at National Taipei University is to enhance our understanding of how cities work, how cities should work, how plans and decisions are made, and how plans and decisions should be made by viewing cities as a complex whole including both physical and non-physical components in which agents interact through information. Appropriate actions are analyzed in order to regulate, plan, and govern cities to improve human settlement by addressing the ultimate question of making rational choice in complex systems. Given the framework of the urban governance discipline, IPUG is to train students with both the sufficient understanding of how cities work and effective analytical tools that can help the students to cope with urban problems that emerge from the urban development process. Put differently, the objective of teaching and research in the discipline of urban governance in general, and the IPUG at National Taipei University in particular, is thus to pursue advanced management science scholarship, and apply research results to solving the real world problems resulting from the workings of cities in order to foster professionals and academics to promote research and practice in urban governance.

  • Coherent Curriculum Design
  • The curriculum of IPUG is designed to equip students with the cutting-edge knowledge of urban governance from Chinese perspectives. After the completion of the curriculum, the students will be able to understand how cities work and what we can do about their development. More specifically, the objective of the curriculum design at the master’s level of IPUG is to provide the students with sufficient advanced theoretical training and professional knowledge to practice after graduation the urban governance skills in local governments, non-profit organizations, private consulting firms, and other institutes that the professionals find themselves. For those students who plan to continue to work on their Ph. D. degrees in and outside the discipline, the curriculum should enable and prepare them in such scholarly pursuit.

    Given the disciplinary framework of urban governance as depicted in Program Design, there are two main research domains in the International Program on Urban Governance at National Taipei University: cities and governance. In the first domain, IPUG will view cities as large complex systems, and attempt to understand the workings of cities based on the emerging science of complexity. Complex systems are composed of many components interacting with each other and self-organizing in patterns, and cities are no doubt one type of complex systems. Applying the notion of complex systems to explaining how cities work will cut across the traditional social, economic, and physical boundaries to look at cities as a whole.

    In the second domain, IPUG will focus on plans, regulations, and governance as management tools in order to improve human settlements. Different from management of small systems, such as business administration, urban governance emphasizes on managing large complex systems; therefore, the management tools of the small and the large are distinct. In particular, plans look at the making, arrangement, and coordination of decisions; regulations focus on the constraining, expansion, and distribution of rights; and governance emphasizes on collective choices and actions. IPUG attempts to strike a balance in teaching and research among the three approaches to urban governance, without ignoring any one of them.

    IPUG also focuses on explanations of how cities work both in descriptive and normative ways. The former explores how cities do work, whereas the latter how cities should work. Besides related teaching and research on regulations and governance, for plans IPUG will look into how plans are made both in descriptive and normative ways, i.e., how people do and should make plans.

    The courses offered for the first year of the Master’s program provide a coherent set of advanced, fundamental, and theoretical approaches to looking at how cities work and how to manage them through regulations, plans, and governance. The courses offered for the second year of the Master’s program provide a variety of specific issues concerning urban problems as the urban development takes place and discusses ways of how to deal with them.

    One of the distinctive characteristics of IPUG is that it will pursue the insights of modern management science gained from the traditional Chinese science, such as I-Ching and Taoism, in order to link that science with modern science that is derived from the Western society. For example, the recent surge of emergentism is said to be consistent with Taoism and Buddhism. Integrating appropriately the sciences derived from the East and the West would prompt innovative, useful ideas.

  • Diversified Student Backgrounds
  • IPUG intends to attract graduate students from all over the world with an orientation toward social sciences and with a strong analytic, quantitative background. In order to promote the Program’s capacity in international collaboration, the prospective undergraduate students should show sufficient proficiency in English by showing high TOEFL scores . In addition, the prospective graduate students should show an inclination to commit themselves to public service as a career to improve human settlements. Graduate applicants with undergraduate training closely related to urban governance will be considered for admission to the Master’s program of IPUG. The prospective master’s students must show excellent undergraduate grades in core courses related to analytic or management skills and urban studies.

  • Balanced Research Orientation
  • Following the disciplinary framework, the research orientation of the IPUG aims at addressing four questions, or four H’s: 1) How do cities work? 2) How should cities work? 3) How are plans and decisions for urban development made? and 4) How should plans and decisions for urban development made?

    1) How Do Cities Work?

    There is no single theory that can explain completely how cities work. The best attempt should include a set of theories that address different aspects of urban development. To understand how cities work, the Department is aimed at new ways of looking at cities. Two dominant ways of looking at cities are economic theory and complexity theory. Economic theory depicts urban development from the top down, whereas complexity theory from the bottom up. In addition, economic theory assumes urban development tends to equilibrium, whereas complexity theory recognizes that cities are far from equilibrium. There is no conclusion yet which theory is more effective in describing the urban development process, and both theories have respective merits worth pursuing. Therefore, the Department should keep open which modeling paradigm to adopt in investigating how cities work, in order to reach a coherent set of theories of urban development.

    2) How Should Cities Work?

    Cities, if left alone, might evolve naturally toward states that might not be desired by city managers. In such situations, man-made intervention is needed by taking appropriate actions to guide the urban development process toward desired states. Crimes, urban sprawl, pollution, traffic congestion, and over-priced land, among others, are city ills that need rectifications. What are the desired properties of good cities? Justice, equity, esthetics, sustainability, and efficiency, among others, are such properties which set the goals, objectives, and criteria through which urban governance actions are evaluated and implemented.

    3) How Are Plans and Decisions for Urban Development Made?

    Cities are the physical and non-physical settings resulting from numerous interacting plans and decisions made in space and time. In order to manage cities effectively, we need to understand how these plans and decisions are made. For example, we need to explain how land development decisions take place when, where, and by whom and how these decisions interact with each other to give rise to the physical settings of cities. Unless we gain sufficient understanding of how plans and decisions are made in cities, would we be able to appreciate how cities work and take appropriate actions to guide the urban development process.

    4) How Should Plans and Decisions for Urban Development Be Made?

    Only through rigorous understanding of how people do make plans and decisions, can we recognize that human plan and decision making is full of deficiencies in that planners and decision makers are said to satisfice rather than optimize. What can we do about such deficiencies in plan and decision making? One way to rectify such anomalies is to design plan and decision aids to help city managers to make and use plans for urban development and act accordingly. For example, planning support systems that integrate modeling techniques and planning tools are being developed worldwide and provide a set of promising computerized tools for urban planners and city managers to make and use plans to improve human settlement. In particular, fundamental behavioral research, such as cognitive science, can help to detect human anomalies in plan and decision making and rectify them accordingly.

  • Proficient Faculty
  • The backgrounds of the faculty members in IPUG represent and reflect the educational and research missions. All faculty members at IPUG have Ph. D. degrees trained in a variety of disciplines, including, but not limited to, urban and regional planning, real estate development, public administration, political science, psychology, economics, sociology, and computer science, all focused on urban studies and governance. In order to cover a sufficient scope of urban governance, the size of the faculty for the Program is aimed at 30 faculty members, with 15 specialized in urban planning, 10 in public administration, and the remaining 5 in other social sciences.

  • Intensive International Collaboration
  • To reach out for international collaborative opportunities, the Program will keep in touch closely with foreign academic institutes, non-profit organizations, local governments, and professional associations focused on urban governance. The initial target nation will be the United States, and the contacts will then branch out through the world. For example, the International City Management Association in the United States might be a good place to start by joining that organization and participate actively. The objective of international collaboration is to share research, educational, and practice experiences of urban governance in Taiwan and Mainland China and learn from the counter parts of other countries.

  • Excellent Location
  • National Taipei University at Shan Shia is located in the Taipei Metropolitan Area of more than six million people. IPUG takes full advantages of this excellent location by using the Taipei Metropolitan area as a testing grounding for the theories learned in the curriculum and discovered by research. With its geographical proximity to Mainland China, IPUG would be an excellent springboard for the students who plan to pursue a career in Mainland China and other Asian countries.

  • Pleasant Weather
  • Taiwan is located at about the same latitude as California, U. S. Therefore, the weather in Taiwan is warm and pleasant, and the average temperature yearly is about 23 degree Celsius. There is no snow throughout the year and the weather is also comfortable in winter.

+ About IPUG
- Message from the IPUG Director
- Background
- Special Features
- Advantages:
 ‧The IPUG Advantages
 ‧Program Highlights
 ‧Program Design