The PSU-China Innovations in Urbanization Program at Portland State University began as a collaborative effort between the Hatfield School of Government and the Toulan School of Urban Studies and Planning in 2007, with generous funding from the David and Flora Hewlett Foundation and, later, the Energy Foundation.
The Program was born from a previous partnership with the International Sustainable Development Foundation (ISDF), a non-profit organization located in Portland, Oregon. Through the partnership (2001-2010), PSU provided training sessions in Portland for leading government officials and staff from the Ministry of Construction (MOC)/Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development (MOHURD) and the Ministry of Land and Resources (MLR). The seeds for the training were planted following the visit of Vice Premier Li Yuan's visit to the United States in 2000, when there was growing interest in the transfer of technology between the U.S. and China. From the beginning, leaders of the China ministries training program intended it to be used not only for training, but also for research, and to establish the expertise of the Toulan faculty in future collaborative projects. To date, over 600 delegates representing every province in China have participated in the training programs.
The PSU-China Innovations in Urbanization Program next established a relationship with the China Academy of Urban Planning and Design (CAUPD), the preeminent planning organization formally under MOHURD. In 2008, Toulan School faculty conducted a workshop at the CAUPD offices in Beijing, and the following year, Toulan School graduate students were invited to serve as summer interns at CAUPD. This program has continued, sending 3-6 MURP students as interns each summer in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013.
Also in 2009, the Program established an agreement with the Energy Foundation Sustainable Cities program in Beijing. In addition to receiving two graduate student interns in the summer of 2009, EF and PSU have collaborated on workshops together in Kunshan (2009), with the MLR in Beijing (2010), Shandong University in Jinan (2011), with the local government in Kunming (April 2012) and in Portland (July 2012).