The Bartlett Development Planning Unit


Antoine Kallab

Antoine Kallab
My interest in urban development initially started at the building level. I pursued architecture studies to learn how spaces can be designed to respond to a user’s needs and comfort. As my studies progressed, I became increasingly exposed to the different dynamics that shape a city’s built environment, well beyond architectural design. While still a student, I was recruited to work on economic and transport development projects around the world. It was my first experience confronting the challenges of territorial development in the Global South, during which I came to appreciate the importance of engaging various stakeholders and experts when designing sustainable solutions for local communities.

Following this initial experience in planning, I decided to pursue a specialized master’s degree to fully grasp the theory behind development strategies, and acquire the different tools to lead such projects. When I came across the UED program at the DPU, it became clear that the course was designed to empower young students coming from diverse backgrounds by allowing them to work together on sustainable and inclusive development projects. It also provided a suitable balance behind theory and practice, with the help of an incredibly diverse and experienced faculty.

My year at the DPU was filled with feelings of excitement and fulfillment. As students, we were constantly encouraged to question traditional narratives surrounding the Global South, and exposed to new lenses of analysis that recontextualize contemporary global challenges. The London Project and Windsor Workshop were immersive experiences that simulated our future work environments. Our “Introduction to Public Economics and Public Policy” helped me understand the dynamics of public governance, as well as the importance institutions play in promoting inclusive access to urban services. “Managing the city economy” shed light on the various agents of urban development and the role of economic factors in determining living conditions in cities. Both of my optional modules focused on disaster management in cities, which illustrated possible approaches to achieving resilience in the face of climate change. My dissertation, written as part of a fellowship with SLURC, tackled the challenges ahead of implementing Sierra Leon’s 5-year national development plan, specifically for the tourism sector. It was the culmination of my effort to transition from architect to practitioner in economic development.

My UED master’s empowered me to move back to Lebanon after 5 years abroad, at a time when my country was going through a severe political and economic crisis. I joined the Beirut Urban Lab at the American University of Beirut (AUB) as a researcher and research coordinator, investigating the socioeconomic impact of the 2020 Beirut Port Explosion. I also worked as a consultant for various agencies, such as UN Women, UNICEF, and ILO, to provide studies and strategies for labor market mismatches, skills gaps and gender mainstreaming. As of January 1st 2023, I will be returning to the American University of Beirut as Instructor of practice, and will join the Nature Conservation Center as Associate Director. My main responsibilities will be overseeing investments and fundraising efforts alongside contributing to strategies to promote the center’s vision. I will also be in charge of educational outreach, partnerships and internal capacity building.

In my 10 years as a university student, I can truthfully attest that no other program matches UED’s quality when it comes to pedagogy, learning, organization and balance between theory of practice. Being part of DPU is not solely an academic experience, but a career milestone that shapes one’s entire approach to professional ethics and our individual role in a rapidly changing world. Furthermore, studying at DPU was an opportunity to meet talented individuals from around the world, many of whom have become close friends and colleagues since our graduation.