Jaroslav Koutsky and Zhou Kai, two Fulbright scholars from the Czech Republic and China respectively, are working on research for Tufts UEP for the academic year. They both chose to come to Tufts to collaborate with UEP professor, Justin Hollander, on innovative work looking at the phenomenon of shrinking cities and its impacts in their home countries.
A personal connection brought both Jaroslav Koutsky and Zhou Kai thousands of miles from their home countries to Tufts University. When the application for the Fulbright Scholarship was released, they were both attracted to one specific topic, the phenomenon of shrinking cities, and one particular professor, UEP’s own Justin Hollander. Since 2007, Justin has produced over a dozen journal articles and presentations examining those cities which have experienced high levels of depopulation over time. There are four models that proposed by Justin that encompass deindustrialization, monostructure economics, rapid privatization and smart decline that can lead to a myriad of negative effects for those that remain. Jaroslav and Zhou then knew exactly who to reach out to while doing their own research on shrinking cities in their respective home countries of Czech Republic and China.
“My link to UEP was Justin… I was very familiar with his texts and wanted to work with him so I wrote him a request, which he accepted. For me, it was very personal.”
– Jaroslav Koutsky
“I proposed to do a comparative study on shrinking cities in USA and China when applying for the Fulbright Scholarship. Justin has published many pieces of research in this field, and I like the way that he not only examines what is happening in shrinking cities, but searches for positive policy/planning responses to them,”
– Zhou Kai
Both Jaroslav and Zhou have been adapting well to life at Tufts. The pair have participated in multiple UEP courses with Professors Laurie Goldman, Julian Agyeman and Barbara Parmenter, where they have been able to get the true student experience. Zhou noted that “It was after I came and took some classes with the students that I deeply felt the meaning of UEP, to encourage visionary thinking in the fields of policy and planning.”
They have also been able to share their unique experiences and backgrounds through their interactions with the students at UEP. The two of them shared some of the findings from their work on shrinking cities in their home countries at a UEP colloquium last fall, which was well-received by students and faculty alike. They are continuing a collaboration with Professor Justin Hollander, currently conducting research comparing urban development/decline models in China, the Czech Republic and the United States. Zhou is also translating Justin’s book, Sunburnt Cities, into Chinese.
Needless to say, it has been a seamless transition for Jaroslav and Zhou alike. “I came to work with Justin but once I arrived, I realized how great the staff and students were at UEP. I absolutely love it here!” stated Jaroslav. It has been a whirlwind year for the two Fulbright scholars but they are acclimating just fine and look to continue on their innovative research paths.