Urban Social Movement as Critical Planning
Dr. Liang-Yi Yen is currently working as a professor of the Department of Landscape Architecture at Fu Jen Catholic University. His areas of expertise include urban planning, urban design, community planning, cultural heritage, urban social movements, and cultural geography. Dr. Yen's concerns of research are mainly with spatial and social justice, and he has integrated research into social engagement. Therefore, his primary research projects in the last decade are all related to major urban issues in Xinzhuang, where Fu Jen Catholic University is located, including preservation movement for Lo-Sheng Sanatorium, construction and operation of Zhong-Gang Drainage Project, Xinzhuang old street preservation movement, and anti-eviction movement of Wenzaizun. As he took part in these official projects or civil movements, he had, on one hand assisted, local residents to formulate movement strategies and advocate public discourse, but also observed and analyzed the development of these controversial events at a closer distance. Given with such context, he is able to investigate the urban politics of Xinzhuang in the 21st century, and further clarify the relationship between urban development, urban planning, and urban social movements in theory.
In addition to themes of urban politics, Dr. Yen is also devoted to studying the relationship between cultural landscape and contemporary society of consumption. In contemporary times, cultural landscape is mostly regarded as an industry that help promote economic development, but it also creates the problems of social exclusion, such as gentrification, forced relocation of indigenous people, and avoidance of uneven distribution of public resources. Over the past few years, Dr. Yen has led graduate students to carry out in-depth investigations into Dihua Street of Taipei, ceramics street of Yingge, Qingjing Farm of Nantou, Dongshan Township of Yilan, and Hongken tulou of Fujian, Shapowei, Xiamen of Fujian, Xikou, Zhejiang, and so forth. All of these efforts are made with the intent as he attempts to appreciate the background of tourism culture from cultural landscape and its impact on the livelihood of local residents, and propose such tourism policies of greater social inclusiveness.
In teaching, Dr. Yen emphasizes that environmental design must incorporate local knowledge and social network of community residents. As such, after he took up the chair of the Department of Landscape Architecture in 2015, he had re-adjusted the curriculum structure, leading teachers and students to dip into diverse rural community home and abroad, as they jointly explore the issues of local space and economic development with residents through measures of social design.