Deland Chan

Student spotlight details

The Clarendon Scholarship has made it possible for Deland Chan to further her research into emerging bottom-up, neighbourhood-based approaches to urban sustainability.

'Hello! My name is Deland Chan, and I began the DPhil in Sustainable Urban Development in Michaelmas Term 2018. Before I enrolled, I was, and am still, based in the Program on Urban Studies at Stanford University where I direct our experiential learning initiatives for students to engage in real-world urban issues through coursework and fellowships. I also co-founded and lead the Human Cities Initiative. I previously worked as a senior urban planner with a focus on transportation and land use planning.

'Research and teaching have always gone hand in hand for me. Having worked in underserved communities that historically lacked access to the planning process or a seat at the decision-making table, I started my career in urban planning with a motivation to develop tools and capacities for non-planners to shape their communities. I became interested in contested frameworks of sustainability, which led me to the DPhil to explore these questions within a scholarly context.

'The Clarendon Scholarship has made it possible for me to pursue the DPhil at Oxford. I am grateful for this opportunity, which not only offers financial support to pursue my research but a chance to be part of a community of scholars and to meet students from across the university in different departments. I love learning from others from different disciplines and how they approach their work, which is endlessly fascinating for me and can lead to exciting ways of thinking about my work.

'Currently, I am spending a lot of my time reading and diving into the literature. I loved meeting my fellow DPhil cohort at our first doctoral week, as it is such an international and diverse group. Oxford is a beautiful campus— quite different from Frederick Law Olmsted’s design for the Stanford campus— and I look forward to spending more time there in the future!

'My recommendation for someone considering undertaking the DPhil in Sustainable Urban Development is to have a strong desire to do research and a set of intellectual questions that you hope to answer. Before applying, you should have a clear rationale for why you want to pursue the DPhil. After that, you will need to undergo the application process where you provide a detailed research proposal. There is also an interview, where in my situation, I discussed my potential research with three faculty members and was encouraged to think critically and thoughtfully about my proposal. I found this to be worthwhile and fun, but it is essential to consider both what you hope to get out of the process of undertaking the DPhil, as well as the potential outcomes of your research.

'I am most looking forward to engaging with Oxford faculty, challenging myself intellectually, and producing a high-quality thesis. As issues of urbanization and sustainability drive some of the most pressing challenges of the 21st century, I look forward to continuing this research after the DPhil in my career.'

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