Catherine explores the world through urban planning

Catherine Bruckard studied urban planning because she is passionate about global sustainability. During the Master of Urban Planning, she travelled to Amsterdam and Singapore for credit and she shared with us her reflections on her student experience.

Catherine Bruckard

Why did you study the Master of Urban Planning?

I chose to study the Master of Urban Planning to further my knowledge and specialisations within Urban Planning while also becoming an accredited planner. The masters program has challenged me to think in a more complex way and delve deeper into a broad range of issues within urban planning. I have valued the way that the program has allowed me to choose a broad range of subjects within other speciality areas, such as economics, urban design, property and landscape.

As our populations grow, urban planning will become paramount for our cities and regions in ensuring sustainable growth and liveability.  I am passionate about the role that urban planners must play in guiding this growth and development into the future.  I also believe the planning profession has an ongoing social role to play in educating and advising both political leaders and the wider community.

What was your favourite studio during the program?

The Planning Asia Pacific Cities Studio was my favourite. We travelled to Singapore to learn firsthand about urban planning through site visits and from a range of professionals and academics – many considered leaders in their field. As someone who had little overseas travel experience, this studio really opened my eyes to international urban planning approaches and the ways Australia can learn from countries such as Singapore, who are highly efficient and sustainable in planning and management of a large population within a small geographical area.

I recommend overseas travelling studios to anyone studying the Master of Urban Planning as I believe learning from other countries is invaluable.

Can you tell us about working at Urbis during your studies?

I was lucky enough to land a role within Urbis’ student program as an Assistant Planner following the second year of my undergraduate degree here in the Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning. This job has allowed me to apply skills gained within the masters program, including strategic and statutory planning to real life scenarios.

The Master of Urban Planning has also greatly enhanced core skills such as writing and teamwork, which can be applied to any workplace.

What skills have you learned in the Master of Urban Planning?

I have learned a range of skills in high level critical thinking and academic analysis, alongside more practical skills such as planning law, public speaking and mapping. A real strength of the Master of Urban Planning lies in the diversity in what is taught; allowing those practical skills to be developed alongside more academically focused ones.

You travelled to Amsterdam for a subject. What did you learn from that experience and what support did the University provide?

I travelled to the University of Amsterdam to complete a short-term exchange. The course focused on sustainability and the ways in which cities can become more circular in their use of materials and resources. I learned how to utilise a range of tools to intervene within cities and build system resilience. My studies highlighted how Australia can look to nations such as the Netherlands for guidance for building longer term urban resilience and sustainability within our cities.

The University of Melbourne was highly supportive of this opportunity, allowing me to credit the subject for my studies while providing clear guidance on how to organise my travels. They allowed me to return late into Semester 2 in order to finish the course in Amsterdam. I also received the Melbourne Global Scholars Award, which provided funding to travel overseas. The support received by Melbourne University was integral in allowing me to attend this course.

How important is understanding different cultures and experiences globally to urban planning?

I believe it is important to experience other countries and cultures to recognise and learn from international planning experiences. The two overseas subjects I took have enhanced my knowledge and broadened my appreciation for the ways Australia can learn in areas such as affordable housing and transport. Countries must continually learn from each other and the ways in which they grow, plan and innovate. I think countries often unintentionally become narrowly focused and believe their way is best; thinking more globally allows for constant change to achieve the best planning outcomes.

What advice would you give to someone thinking about studying the Master of Urban Planning?

It is full of opportunities. I would encourage anyone who takes the masters program to seize any opportunity to involve themselves in everything they can fit in! I have benefited hugely from taking on extracurricular opportunities such as joining clubs and committees, attending events and travelling overseas. I believe they are invaluable to building both knowledge, experience and industry connections.


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