I-Chun Catherine Chang

Assistant Professor
Asian, economic, global cities

Carnegie Hall, 104F

Curriculum Vitae

I see myself primarily as an urban and economic geographer, but I am enthusiastic about all kinds of geography and have been broadly trained in the discipline. I received my B.A. in Geography from the National Kaohsiung Normal University, my M.Sc. in Geography from the National Taiwan University (both in Taiwan), and my Ph.D. in Geography, Environment and Society from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.

Much of my scholarship focuses on the complex urbanization processes in the global South. In particular, I am drawn to the political economy of urban infrastructure projects in East Asian cities. My current work examines how these infrastructure projects are situated in various place-specific contexts and embedded in trans-local circulation of knowledge, discourse, and practices.

Before joining Macalester, I have spent the last several years studying the urban sustainability movement of building eco-friendly and low carbon emission towns across Asia. This movement is driven by a new wave of neoliberal urban policies based on the belief that cities can transform the long standing, zero-sum competition between environment and economy into a symbiotic relation. This idea has spurred hundreds of new town projects in Asia, all of which similarly promote urban sustainability to enhance urban entrepreneurship, and invest in environmental technologies to boost the cities’ competitiveness. My research both contextualizes how these grand initiatives manifest on the ground, and traces the genealogical connectivities of these projects that reshape the global circulation of sustainable planning knowledge and practices. Using two Chinese newly built eco-cities as case studies, I examined the spatio-temporal variegations and transnational circulation of these two eco-city models across Shanghai, Tianjin, London and Singapore. Building on this line of work, my new projects will investigate the financialization of eco-urbanism production, the inequality implication of Asian green urban projects, and the role of transnational sustainable urban planners in policy exchanges.

My commitment to interdisciplinary and international scholarship extends to bringing critical and relational thinking about spatial and social diversity into the classroom. I am eager to work with students to explore the multifaceted socio-geographical relationships between urban landscapes and human societies. I hope to help my students develop understanding of socio-geographically varied manifestations of human livelihoods, and connect their personal experiences with seemingly unrelated people and phenomena in distant places. I aim to assist my students to develop the ability to think geographically and internationally, and to critically reflect on emerging issues.

For the year of 2015-2016, I will offer four courses: World Urbanization (fall), Geography of Asia (fall), Asian Cities (spring) and Urban Ecology (spring). These courses deal with exciting but pressing issues of our contemporary societies. We are entering a world where the majority of the population is urban; the interactions between human and environment increasingly take place inside cities; and the emerging Asia presents both new challenges and opportunities. I look forward to work with my students to develop critical understanding of these new dynamics that are shaping our near future.