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Urban China Network (UCN) is an student organization founded in May 2013 by a group of Columbia GSAPP Urban Planning students with a strong interest in China’s urban issues. UCN aims to bring students, scholars as well as practitioners from various disciplines in the Greater New York area into the discussion of China’s urbanization, and ultimately to facilitate the communication between cities in China and the U.S.
Call for Submissions

Urban China Network invites submissions of creative essays and design projects that identify urban issues and solutions related to COVID-19 in China by May 31, 2021, 11:59PM Beijing / 11:59AM NYC.

URBAN REFLECTION ON COVID-19 is a student initiative that asks participants to discuss the phenomenon and heuristic solutions within the field of Chinese Urbanism, and to provide ideas of how to manage this crisis in a post-pandemic future.

Echoing the theme of the 7th Urban China Forum held in October by UCN, this initiative expands the discussion and expects to bring in diverse perspectives of students, allowing them to have a deeper understanding of interested urbanism topics, and communicate their thoughts with fellow students and scholars. The submissions can be in the form of essays or designs that convey the idea.

URBAN REFLECTION ON COVID-19 seeks creative and in-depth insights and discussions that identify urban issues and solutions related to COVID-19 in China, aiming to enhance the understanding in COVID-19 era through inclusive thinking. All submissions are required to include any elements of Chinese Urbanism, whether the work is a comparative thinking, an idea developed or inspired by planning in China or on the Chinese Urbanism itself.

This initiative is organized by Columbia Global Centers | Beijing and Columbia University Urban China Network, a student organization of the Urban Planning program within the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation.

Who can apply?
Undergraduate and graduate students around the world in the planning field who are interested in Chinese Urbanism issues, as well as recently graduated students in relevant fields.

The submissions can be in the form of essays or designs that convey the idea. One participant is allowed to submit up to one essay plus one design work. All submissions must be the original, unpublished work of participant(s).

We encourage students to study COVID-19 and its impact on cities and the planning field and think beyond our time to suggest possible future urban policies. Students may write on any topic from aspects of policy making, economic system, financial model, social equity, health services, science and technology, big data, regional planning, etc.

Possible essay topics might include:

  • What are the weaknesses of urban planning reflected by this outbreak?
  • How cities should be built after this crisis?
  • How can we better respond to current and future crises?
  • How can we utilize technology to connect with such social changes?

Abstract and Keywords

Summarize your main ideas no more than 200 words in the abstract. List no more than four keywords.


  • Essays should be no more than 2,000 words in length.
  • A complete bibliography should be included, if appropriate. The bibliography and/or footnotes will not count towards the word limit.


  • For color illustrations, the resolution should not be less than 350dpi; for black and white, the resolution should not be less than 600dpi.

Submission Formats

  • Essays must be submitted in English.
  • Essays should be typed and double-spaced in an easily readable font (such as Times New Roman, 12pt).
  • The first page of the essay is required to indicate the title, author’s name, school, phone number, email address, and mailing address. The second page shall indicate the title, abstract, and keywords of the essay.
  • The main text body begins from the third page. Starting from the second page, no information reflecting the identity or background of the author shall appear, otherwise, the entry will be disqualified. Any opinion from others should be cited.
  • The essay should indicate a complete bibliography in the last page in an alphabetical order.
  • The essay must be submitted in both Microsoft Word and Adobe PDF format.

Design Work

The COVID-19 pandemic changed the public space in the city, whether temporarily or permanently. Possible explorations could include spatial interventions in both formal and informal urban space. Participants are encouraged to think beyond the conventional spaces like plazas and streets, and explore potential spaces that need interventions to meet both social distancing and social production needs. The participant can select any specific site as the context of their design. The subject can be architecture, urban design, interior design or system design.


No more than four digital boards at 20"x20", the resolution of the document should be no less than 300 dpi (PDF or JPEG files). The combined file should be no larger than 20MB. Documentation must adequately convey the design’s relationship to the public space and daily activities under/after COVID-19 pandemic. All drawings should be labeled; indicate scale and orientation where necessary.

Project Brief

Project brief should be no more than 250 words (Doc, Docx, or PDF file). Submissions should include a brief description of the design, how it reshapes the traditional public space, and how potential users interact with it. Project authorship must remain anonymous. The names of student participants, their schools, must NOT appear on the boards and program brief. If authorship is revealed on any submission materials the entry will be disqualified.


Out of all the works submitted, one essay and one design project will be selected as first prizes, and the other top four or five of the works will receive second prize, for essay and design, respectively.

First prizes will receive a reward of $1,000. Second prizes will receive a reward of $200. Winners will have the opportunity to present in the later exhibition and further explore the topic under the guidance of judges and other experts.

How to apply?

Please email your essay or design submission to ucn.submission@gmail.com before the deadline in May, 2021.

Participants will need to submit Proof of Student Status (e.g. Student ID) along with their works as separate PDF documents to ucn.submission@gmail.com.

Please title both the DOC, PDF work, and the email subject as LastNameessaytitle (example: Smithessayxxx)

Design Work
Please title both the work PDF and the email subject as LastName1(LastName2)designtitle (example: SmithZhangdesignxxx)
If you have any questions or need any further information, please send an email to beijing.cgc@columbia.edu.

Shanghai International Creative City Think Tank
Wuhan Design
Shanghai Municipal Engineering Design Institute (Group) Co., Ltd.
United Design Group


President: Danqing Ma
Treasurer: Yuanyuan Shen
Liaison Officer and Event Planner: Shen Xin and Hanyin Zhang
Media Officer: Yining Shen and Jiabao Sun

Contact email: urbanchinanetwork@gmail.com

WeChat: ColumbiaUrbanism

7th Urban China Forum: Pandemic Urbanism
China’s Response to COVID-19 and a Post-COVID Future

Oct. 10, 2020