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SFU President Michael Stevenson, left, greets Prince Charles on his first visit to SFU Nov. 7 at the Morris J Wosk Centre for Dialogue.

Prince visits SFU, inks new agreement

November 19, 2009

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Staff and faculty in the Urban Studies program worked 12-hour days for two months as they prepared for Prince Charles’ first visit to SFU on Nov. 7.

The Prince attended a seminar on sustainable urbanism (one of his long-time interests) at the Morris J Wosk Centre for Dialogue.

It was also the ideal occasion to confirm a partnership between SFU and the Prince’s Foundation for the Built Environment. Together, SFU Urban Studies and the foundation will develop a curriculum for advanced education in sustainable urbanism.

Anthony Perl, director of the Urban Studies program, says it will be the foundation’s first partnership outside the U.K. The foundation has already developed a master’s program in sustainable urbanism with Oxford and is finalizing a master’s of sustainable urban design degree program with the University of Wales.

Perl expects to spend the next year developing content for the new curriculum, which will deepen the sustainability content of SFU’s existing Master of Urban Studies degree. He is also planning a pilot for a 2010 summer course in urban place-making to be delivered at the foundation’s studios in London.

The Urban Studies program currently has more than 80 graduate students pursuing either the Master of Urban Studies degree or the Graduate Diploma in Urban Studies.

During the seminar, says Perl, Prince Charles leaned over and asked him: "What discipline do your students train in?"

"I replied that we don’t train students in a single discipline so that they can understand cities better."

It seemed to be the right answer, Perl says, as the Prince later made it clear during his 15-minute remarks that the orthodox way of looking at cities from one particular viewpoint—such as architecture, engineering or planning—hasn’t brought cities to sustainability.

"He said the first step is to provide people with an alternative vision," says Perl. "I think that’s why he’s so happy that the foundation will be working with us on a shared curriculum."

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