The Urban China Initiative’s grant program promotes innovative research on urban development in China, leading to the publication of working papers and implementation through city pilots. Upon completion of supported research projects, UCI reviews successful grant-supported projects for implementation in pilot programs at the city level in cooperation with local authorities.

The Urban China Initiative accepts grant applications twice a year. To encourage researchers and practitioners pursuing the topic of sustainable urbanization, UCI accepts research applications on a bi-annual basis for grants up to RMB 100,000. Research for the grants is expected to be completed within a year. Successful applicants are required to produce a research paper to be published as part of the Initiative’s research program.

Types of Grants

Core Grants (up to RMB 100,000) are identified as Urban China Initiative projects and receive research assistance and analytical support from the Initiative in addition to grant funding.

Research Grants (up to RMB 50,000) may be used to carry out the grantee’s research proposal, including hiring research assistants, obtaining course relief, and funding travel and per diems.

Areas of Research

UCI supports research on the effectiveness of programs and technologies related to urban development; emerging domestic and global best practices in project design, development, and execution; and paths to successful structural adjustment in China’s cities. Grant-supported research focuses on sustainable urbanization, including but not limited to public health, energy efficiency, consumer awareness, public finance, industrial policy, migrant labor, urban infrastructure, environmental issues, social development, housing and land, and education.

Upcoming Grants

Our next call for research will be in late 2013. Check this page for updates. To receive e-mail updates about upcoming grant funding, subscribe to our mailing list here.


Core Grants

Assessing Local Implementation Process of Affordable Housing Policy in China: The Case of Cheap Rental Housing Program
Principal Investigator: Zhilin LIU, Associate Professor, School of Public Policy and Management, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China

This proposed study aims to assess local implementation process of the Cheap Rental Housing Program (lianzu zhufang zhengce) with emphasis on the central-local institutional arrangement that affects the strategic behavior of local governments. Through comparative case studies, we hope to reveal: 1) how city governments have responded to the top-down mandate such as implementing the Cheap Rental Housing Program, 2) to what extent current fiscal incentive-political accountability mechanism has been effective in promoting better local implementation as well as local policy innovations. Empirical findings will form the basis for suggesting possible improvement of the institutional framework to ensure self-enforcing implementation of national affordable housing policy.

(Click here to download Executive Summary)

Read More
Historical Heritage Preservation Oriented Planning Management Optimization in China’s Rapid Urbanization: A Case Study on Luoyang City, Henan Province
Dr. Chengzhi YIN (School of Public Policy & Management,Tsinghua University)

This project identifies existing problems and relevant issues of urban planning management in historical heritage preservation inLuoyang, the antique capital and heritage city. Based on a systematic analysis, a practical model of planning management will be proposed to optimize the effectiveness and efficiency ofLuoyang’s historical heritage preservation. The output of the research may directly serve planning management inLuoyang.

(Click here to download Executive Summary)

Read More
Transit Synergized Development, Framework for a Smart, Low-Carbon, Eco-City
James S. Lee (iContinuum Group Ltd.,Hong Kong)

This project proposes a new model of developing next-generation transit cities inChina. Transit Synergized Development (TSD) is predicated on the integrated planning, development, and management of transit districts, unleashing the synergy between urban development, transit development, and sustainable development. Leveraging the higher intensity of developments typically associated with transit districts, TSD incorporates advanced IT, energy, and environmental technologies to make transit districts smarter, greener, and more energy-efficient, and by extension, to transform the transit network as a whole into a framework for a Smart, Low-Carbon, Eco-City.

(Click here to download Executive Summary)

Read More
The Mechanism and Management Policies of Urban Layout and Urban CO2 Efficiency in China
Dr. Yong LIU (College of Management and Economics, Tianjin University)

This project analyzes the mechanism and management policies of urban layout and CO2 efficiency inChina. Quantitative indicators relating to urban layout (form ratio, compactness ratio, and elongation ratio) and urban CO2 efficiency are selected and quantified using remote sensing and panel data model methods. According to data from 30 cities inChina, the mechanism between urban layout and urban CO2 efficiency is explored. Based on that, the project suggests how to promote urban CO2 efficiency and special planning.

Read More
How to Reduce Carbon Emissions Caused by Urban Energy Use: Path and Potential of Shanghai
Fangyi LI (Graduate University of the Chinese Academy of Sciences)

This project aims to identify the connection between carbon emissions, macro social-economical factors, and micro industrial factors of cities. Using Shanghai as a case study city, structural decomposition analysis will be conducted to analyze the impact factors of carbon emission. Through modeling energy consumption and resulting environmental effects under different low carbon energy utilization scenarios and cost-benefits analysis of carbon reduction policies, the project proposes an energy utilization model for the low-carbonization of cities.

(Click here to download Executive Summary)

Read More


Support Grants

Using Natural and Cultural Heritage for Low-Carbon Sustainable Urban Development in Libo County, Guizhou
Dr. Jyoti Hosagrahar (Sustainable Urbanism International,Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation, Columbia University)

This project aims to develop integrative strategies for low-carbon urban development that are sensitive to the cultural dimensions of urban ecosystems with particular emphases on cultural and natural heritage. It proposes an approach to heritage-sensitive design, planning, and development in urban areas as a way of nurturing and safeguarding cultural heritage while supporting the aspirations and needs of modernization in urban areas.

Read More
An Alternative Design Model for Sustainable Urbanism of a Chinese Third-Tier City: Design Proposal for Gulin New Town Plan
Richard Plunz (Urban Design Program, Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, Columbia University)

The project reviews several existing design schemes and suggests an alternative design model that addresses Gulin’s ecological, cultural, and economic sustainability concerns. Because the planned Gulin New Town will occupy land formerly used for agriculture, the proposed research must contribute to the knowledge of sustainable planning at both regional and city levels and their relationship to sustainable agricultural developments. At the same time, it can serve as a pilot study for a more sustainable urbanism in response toChina’s speed and scale of urbanization.

Read More
Bridging the Gaps between Zones of Production and Consumption: Spatial Implications of Industrial Restructuring and Residential Block Development in the Tumen area of Xi’an
Dr. Xiaodong KOU (Lianhu District Urban Development Research Center)

The study will have both near-term benefits for the Lianhu district, with findings that can be incorporated into the future Tumen area redevelopment plan, and a long-term impact, as the methodologies will be carried forward by theLianhuDistrictUrbanDevelopmentResearchCenter. The investigators will also work closely with the Tumen Urban Redevelopment Commission Directing Office to integrate their identified challenges into the research. Based on the above evidence, the study will develop a list of key performance indicators (KPIs) to gauge industrial-residential integration and sustainable district-scale development. The indicators will lead to specific guidelines for industrial blocks to be upgraded or redeveloped. This KPI system will also be an on-going evaluation tool to guide and assess the progress of local development.

Read More
The Perception of Social Inequality and Associated Action Patterns of the New Generation of Migrant Workers.
Huang He (University of Kent), Long Shuqin (Southeast University), Yang Chunhua (Changzhou Institute of Technology), Qiu Youyun (Hangzhou Normal University)

The objective of the research is to verify and compare some of the hypotheses and empirical research results on social inequality and social movements. The research will not only contribute additional theoretical knowledge to these areas, but also introduce new empirical research results about the new generation of migrant workers’ attitudes and actions in response to social inequality. The research will focus on generating actionable results that could be helpful in the administration of migrant worker support programs by local governments, thus supporting them in their goal of creating social harmony.

Read More

Seed Grants

Bicycle Suitability Index Research for Chinese Cities
Cao Nan (Urbanist); He Jianfeng (Urban Planner / Transport Policy and Planning); Sun Yili ( Infrastructure Development )

The goal of this research is to discover which kinds of cities inChinaare suitable for integration of a bicycle system in order to promote sustainable urban transport. This research will aid the development of a bicycle suitability index model that weighs related factors, such as city scale, urban structure, public transport systems, travel patterns and distances, geography, and climate. The index can serve as a guide to assess the suitability and feasibility of an integrated bicycle system in Chinese cities in order to achieve an efficient, low-carbon, and sustainable urban transport system.

Read More
The Role of Urban Planning in Sustainable Housing Development: The Case of Hangzhou Metropolitan Area
Jin Xue (Aalborg University)

The objective of this research is to investigate how urban planning influences the sustainability of housing development in the Hangzhou Metropolitan Area. Specifically, the project aims to: (1) examine which aspects and how much of the knowledge about sustainable housing is applied in urban planning; (2) evaluate the strengths and weaknesses ofHangzhouurban planning in dealing with the challenges of sustainable housing development

Read More
China Dream Survey
Peggy Liu (JUCCCE)

This proposed research will examine how changing consumer attitudes impact natural resources. JUCCCE will conduct a qualitative survey on how Chinese consumers define prosperity, minimum requirements for “face”, quality, and wastefulness in different lifestyle categories. This baseline information will allow us to “redefine prosperity” and advocate a specific vision of a green “China Dream”. We will then analyze a variety of “what if” consumption scenarios. Examples might include…What if 20% more Chinese were to buy a flat screen TV and car? What if 30% more Chinese went on an overseas flight for leisure each year? What if 10% more Chinese owned a luxury car and a parking space?

Read More