APA - MIT SPURS/Humphrey Collaboration

An Invitation to Join A Global Network Of Mid-Career Urban Planners

APA is inviting members to mentor mid-career urban planners from developing countries who will be Hubert Humphrey Fellows at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) from late August 2021 to May 2022. Through a highly competitive process each year, the US State Department selects a dozen or so urban planners, architects, and engineers from around the world to be at MIT for a year of study, retooling, networking, and professional engagement. The goal is to give them opportunities to expand their professional skills, foster knowledge exchange with urban professionals in the US, and create institutional linkages between the Fellows and American planning organizations. It is also the goal of the program to help the Fellows develop a more nuanced understanding of planning in the US. 

In late August, twelve urban professionals will be coming to MIT from Argentina, Brazil, Chad, Honduras, Iraq, Israel, Mexico, Mongolia, Panama, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Vietnam. They will be based in the SPURS program (Special Program for Urban and Regional Studies) in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at MIT.

SPURS website

2021-2022 Humphrey Fellows Information

An interview with the SPURS/Humphrey Program Director Bish Sanyal


Mentors. The APA International Division (APA-ID) seeks to identify members who would like to mentor one or more Fellows (mentees). Mentors will be expected to meet for about one hour,  either in-person or online, every two to three weeks with their mentees to discuss shared interests. We propose that these meetings would occur between early September and November 2021, but ultimately the schedule will be finalized by the mentor in consultation with the mentee. After those initial meetings, the mentor can decide whether and how they want to continue engaging. There may be multiple ways to engage in a fruitful two-way relationship. For example, mentors might share the nature and scope of their professional work, how organizations operate, and/or discuss specific projects which may be of interest to the Fellows. Conversely, the Fellows could share their professional experience. One major goal is to expose the Fellows to the professional values which US planners adhere to in their daily work. If relevant, mentors might give the Fellow an office tour, either in-person or virtually.  Or mentors might invite mentees to a meeting, perhaps for a project review or to attend a public meeting to show them how public engagement is facilitated in the US.

If you are interested in becoming a mentor for an MIT SPURS Fellow, please send an email expressing your interest to Louise Elving. If you have a particular interest in working with a Fellow from any specific country/city please mention that in your correspondence with us. Also, indicate if you prefer being paired with an architect, a planner, or an engineer.   

If you have any questions or want additional information, please do not hesitate to reach out to email Michael Kolber.


Professional Affiliation (PA) Sponsorship. As part of their program requirements in the US, the international Fellows will also be looking for a PA Sponsorship, which entails unpaid work at a planning organization for 30 or more days. The work can be research, consulting, participation in projects, or other forms of engagements that would be of interest to both work sponsors and Fellows. This type of professional affiliation can be done in various settings, ranging from a private planning firm to a university-affiliated department or center to a public planning agency. The work involved, on the part of the Fellows, could be spread throughout the academic year, perhaps as one day per week, or their assignments could be concentrated during MIT breaks (winter break is from mid-December to late-January and summer break is from mid-May through mid-June--when the Fellows must return to their home countries). Not only does the PA Sponsor get free support from an experienced, mid-level professional, but it is also an opportunity to initiate or further develop business connections in a specific country. The MIT-SPURS program can cite many successful examples of this mutual benefit between PA Sponsors and Fellows.

If you might be interested in sponsoring a Fellow for a Professional Affiliation, please email Louise Elving.  You can also send questions here. 

Since we are starting a new process of reciprocal relationship-building between APA and the SPURS /Humphrey Program, our proposed format this year will be somewhat experimental; we intend to monitor the mentor/mentee relationships with feedback from PA Sponsors, mentors, and Fellows. We are open to suggestions regarding how to foster such relationships as long as the basic goals of the Hubert Humphrey program are incorporated in any innovative arrangement proposed in consultation with Fellows. Thank you for considering our request.