Manchester-Hong Kong spirit
Professor Cecilia Wong, a Hong Kongese town planner and social scientist, explains why she became a lecturer at The University of Manchester…and it wasn’t for the city’s famous dim sum.
My research on monitoring spatial planning strategies has had a direct and profound impact on shaping policy monitoring practice across local and regional planning authorities in England.Professor Cecilia Wong / Town planner and social scientist, The University of Manchester
I am from Hong Kong and stayed there until I completed my undergraduate education. Coming from a working class family, I was born in a squatter hut and my childhood memory was of living in a shared tenant flat before my family eventually moved to a self-contained council flat. However, similarly to many people of my generation, I have witnessed the transformation of Hong Kong since the 1960s.
After graduating from my first degree, I successfully applied for scholarships to pursue a PhD in sociology in the United States or a master's degree in town planning in the UK. I decided to take the Overseas Development Administration Shared Scholarship Scheme to study town and regional planning at The University of Liverpool, to become a professional planner. After completing my Master of Civic Design, I became a planning officer of Cleveland County Council, working in Teesside in the north-east of England.
Today, I have research interests in spatial planning, spatial analysis and policy monitoring, especially using quantitative analytical methods.
Spatial planning is a broad field and my work covers regional inequality, local and regional development, housing needs and demand analysis, brownfield regeneration, commuting flow analysis, infrastructure planning and community well-being.
My expertise is mainly in the UK as most of my research projects were funded by Whitehall throughout the 2000s, and from the research councils and local and regional organisations.
However, I started working on urban planning issues in China in recent years, though it is difficult to talk about research impact in China unless one carries out direct consultancy projects there.
Despite the unique institutional and cultural context of different counties, the lessons learnt from our research are the need to have both integrative strategic planning as well as community engagement and participation, and especially those in the developing world which are undergoing rapid urbanisation.
One of the benefits I have found as an academic at The University of Manchester is being stimulated by very talented people, especially the next generation of great minds.Professor Cecilia Wong / Town planner and social scientist, The University of Manchester
Career progression in Manchester
Manchester was not that attractive in the early 1990s but the city has come a long way to transform itself through successive regeneration initiatives. However, the attraction of a lectureship at The University of Manchester was more important than the airport and having dim sum in China Town, so I decided to develop my career here.
My research on monitoring spatial planning strategies has had a direct and profound impact on shaping policy monitoring practice across local and regional planning authorities in England since the 2004 spatial planning reform.
The report to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister was officially published as the Local Development Framework Monitoring: A Good Practice Guide in 2005, which constitutes the evidence-based for spatial planning across England.
Manchester-Hong Kong spirit
Manchester is a practical and multicultural city which is very convenient and easy for people coming from different cultures and backgrounds to settle; and it is a 'can do' place that shares a similar spirit to Hong Kong.
Both the University and the city have a strong international outlook. Their combined reputation creates the capital to attract esteemed researchers to seek collaborative opportunities here, which puts us in a very strong position.
One of the benefits I’ve found as an academic at The University of Manchester is being stimulated by very talented people, especially the next generation of great minds.
UK universities take research ethics, equity and integrity seriously which I value but I do I like the efficiency of Hong Kong universities and the day-to-day support offered to academics.