SPP Passion Project Team Develops Aleppo Reconstruction Plan

November 27, 2014

“The passion is still there even a year later,” Tamilla Dauletbayeva (MPA ’15) said about her team’s Passion Project, the two-year capstone project for MPA students at the School of Public Policy (SPP) at CEU. Working with classmates Attila Mester (MPA ’15) and Yuxin Wang (MPA ’15), the team is undertaking a project for the Center for Conflict, Negotiation and Recovery (CCNR) to develop reconstruction and policy recommendations for Aleppo, Syria.

“With this project, we aim to help Aleppo residents from all socioeconomic backgrounds, including refugees, a voice in plans for the city’s reconstruction,” Mester explained. Collecting quantitative and qualitative data through questionnaires and interviews, the Passion Project team is telling the story of Aleppo’s residents in two ways. First, the team is creating maps of Aleppo in the past, present, and future in partnership with the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation at Columbia University. Second, the SPP team is writing narratives documenting how residents from diverse social classes experienced Aleppo and their future expectations for the city.

Taking initiative in developing and implementing a research framework as well as networking with relevant organizations on the ground, the team has put in hard work and lots of effort to make the CCNR project a success. “We’re looking forward to traveling to southern Turkey in a few weeks to interview refugees from Aleppo,” Wang mentioned.

The team meets weekly with their clients, including CCNR Director Robert Templer and Jay Heung -- a CCNR Holbrooke Fellow and U.S. Foreign Service Officer -- to share ideas, materials, and progress updates. Heung noted, “The team is unbelievable. They’re reaching out to key actors on their own and producing high-quality deliverables. This project is much more than a traditional internship – the students are actually out in the field creating new things.”

The SPP team’s work is part of a broader CCNR project on the future of Syrian cities. The maps and narratives produced by Dauletbayeva, Mester, Wang and their Columbia University partners will be accompanied by lessons learned from the reconstruction efforts in Sarajevo, Beirut, and Kabul in a launch event in 2015.