Katrin Hofer, Swiss, Graduating Class of 2017
I have a BA in Social Work and Social Policy from the University of Fribourg, Switzerland. Before joining the DPU, I worked for Save the Children in Switzerland as a programme officer for international and domestic projects. After graduating from the Urban Development Planning programme, I then joined the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts in Switzerland as a research associate and was engaged in applied research and development projects at the municipal, city and regional level. In 2019, I joined the DPU/ACHR/CAN Fellowship Programme, working in Indonesia on a community-led research project on tenure security in informal settlements. Currently, I am doing a PhD in Participatory Urban Governance in the Spatial Development and Urban Policy team at ETH Zürich.
I have always been fascinated by the social heterogeneity and dynamic nature of cities. Working at Save the Children, I was part of the urban programme working group and had the opportunity to be involved in interesting discussions about the organisation’s strategy in the urban context. This sparked my interest in advancing my studies in this field of work. The decision to apply to the Urban Development Planning programme at the Development Planning Unit was ultimately informed by the programme’s focus on both theory and practice and my wish to study urban development in the Global South.
Studying Urban Development Planning has been inspiring in many ways. It not only allowed me to engage with theories and concepts about urban development and planning but enabled me to gain practical experiences by working on projects in London and Dar es Salaam (the fieldtrip). Beyond engagement with the content of the course, it was also a great experience to work and study with people from various backgrounds. The interdisciplinary and intercultural context of the course is a great asset. Having studied Urban Development Planning has influenced my career in so far as it has informed my motivation and decision to further engage with, and contribute to, the urban development planning discourse and to stay in academia. It has furthermore enabled me to be a part of the DPU/ACHR/CAN Fellowship in Indonesia.
The time at the DPU was inspiring, but also intense. Being taught in a foreign language was challenging at moments but immersing yourself in the content and class discussions can help. I also appreciated the good exchange with my classmates, as they are often in the same boat. In terms of the course itself, I appreciated having practical working experience before starting the course. It helps to contextualise the theoretical part of the course, and to allow you to critically engage with the topics at hand.
Professional / Academic Profile Links (e.g. LinkedIn; IRIS; Academia.edu etc.): https://www.linkedin.com/in/katrin-hofer-9392b77b/