Urban Planning Student Nonie Mathur a Finalist in Global Urbanization Challenge

Nonie Mathur

The Graduate Institute Geneva has chosen NYU Wagner's Nonie Mathur (MUP, 2017) and her team as a finalist in the Geneva Challenge 2016. The team will be flown to Switzerland in November to present and defend their submission in the culminating round of the global competition for graduate students.

Ms. Mathur’s five-person team, which includes three former classmates at Centre for Environmental Planning and Technology (CEPT) University in Ahmedabad, India, and one other student, devoted the summer to developing a plan for a web platform on disaster mitigation. The “CityProgress” website would allow policy makers around the world to share and analyze data with the aid of maps and other elements.

The team responded to the competition's contest topic, “The Challenges of Urbanisation.”  “It’s definitely very exciting, and I’m very happy,” Ms. Mathur said of her team’s selection as one of the three finalists out of 114 submissions. “We were able to give a lot of our time to it during the summer, but we definitely did not expect to be one of the top three.”

Ms. Mathur and her group conducted research on mitigation strategies that were used in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina, and Chennai, India, after the floods of 2015. They looked at the ways in which the cities had built up and urbanized, and the variety of factors that contributed to the heavy losses of life and property.

Ms. Mathur graduated from CEPT University in 2015 with a Bachelor of Planning. While advancing toward a Master of Urban Planning at NYU Wagner now, she is working as a research assistant with Clinical Professor of Public Service John Gershman.

In Geneva, finalist teams will receive cash prizes worth (in U.S. dollars) $11,000 for first place, $5,500 for second place, and $2,250 for third place. The judges will rank the submissions on the strength of their theoretical analysis, creativity, and critical thinking on technical assistance and capacity building. The award will also be contingent on the practicality and real-world relevance of the ideas presented.

“My ultimate goal in life is to move back to India and have my own consultancy where I can help city governments and urban local bodies,” Ms. Mathur explains. “In the short term, though, I am open to getting urban-planning experience and knowledge in any way that I can.”