A group of undergraduate students have travelled to Sri Lanka in January 2019 for a two week intensive course examining the country’s urban and rural planning challenges.
The 23 students from La Trobe University, Queensland University of Technology and Monash University are enrolled in Urban Planning, Engineering, and Architecture courses. Their visit was based at the University of Moratuwa, Sri Lanka and they travelled to Sri Lanka with the support of a New Colombo Plan scholarship.
"The students were paired with Sri Lankan students which gave them the opportunity to engage with and interview locals," says Melissa Kennedy, a lecturer in the Community Planning and Development Program at La Trobe University.
"They entered communities that had been rehoused since the 2004 tsunami and were still facing access problems to basics such as water and electricity. It gave them the inside perspective of the challenges facing Sri Lankans in their urban built environment."
The students also had the opportunity to work at a variety of sites exploring tourism development and ecological protection on the southwest coast of Sri Lanka such as Galle Fort and the Unawatuna beach area.
Their study culminated in a presentation to their peers and assessors, and a presentation from Dr Tom Davis, the representative of the High Commissioner First Secretary (Development), Australian High Commission.
“The experience gives our students a perspective that they wouldn’t get from fieldwork in Australia, and it was rewarding to see such a diverse group work together across cultures and disciplines interdisciplinary," says Miss Kennedy.
"In many ways Sri Lanka is a country on the cusp of big change, and they can see the impact they would have on its environment and culture, both as students and emerging professionals."