Alumni Spotlight: Manuel Santana- The Importance of a Global Perspective in Urban Planning


Favela in Rio; Credit:

By Brittany Woods, GPA Alumni and Public Relations Coordinator

Manuel is an alumnus of the Masters in Urban and Regional Planning program and he completed a GPA certificate in Global Urbanization and Regional Development during his time at the Luskin School of Public Affairs.

Manuel shared with GPA why he believes having a global perspective in urban planning is important.

“Having a global perspective is key for every planner in order to understand cities in general. The world is becoming more urban and we, as planners need to understand how this process occurs, what causes it, and what problems comes with it. Problems and possible solutions to rapid urbanization varies from one place to another, and it is in the global south where most of the “action” is occurring. Indeed. nowadays, scholars and practitioners in the developed world are looking at the global south to learn about different perspectives of urbanization and innovative solutions to replicate all around the world.”

Although Manuel had previous international experience before he began taking courses in his GPA certificate program, he shared how GPA has enhanced his global perspective within his field.

“Learning about housing and land markets, and regional economic development and globalization and urbanization helped me to understand how cities work (or do not work) in different contexts. This is valuable as cities are living entities that reinvent themselves and sometimes mimic dynamics already observed in other geographies.”

When asked about his favorite GPA experience, Manuel expressed his personal enjoyment of one of the GPA courses and how it is influencing his current doctoral work at UC Berkeley.

“I personally enjoyed the course Special Topics in Regional and International Development: Housing Markets and Policy, taught by Prof. Monkkonen. I learned for example how to analyze housing and land markets, how a hedonic model works, and what are some policies in place in different parts of the world to intervene supply and demand.

All that I learned has helped me to better understand two things I was curious about that I plan to explore more in dept during my doctorate studies at UC Berkeley and hopefully as an international consultant: what is the role of both developers and citizens in shaping housing demand a supply, specially in the global south where auto-construction rules in the peripheries, and how transportation infrastructure interacts with land markets.

These two topics are especially important because concepts such as Transit Oriented Development have been brought to Colombia as one solution to fight against what planners and government officials perceive as sprawl and to fight against climate change. The knowledge about international land and housing markets has helped me to engage in these discussions with colleagues involved in planning in Colombia and who support denser urban development close to mass transit.”

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *