Nick R. Smith

Nick R. Smith

Research Interest

Urbanization; urban planning; sociospatiality; community development; industrial development; de-colonization

Nick R. Smith is a scholar of urban transformation and planning, with a regional focus on rapid urbanization in Asia. His first book, The End of the Village: Planning the Urbanization of Rural China, explores an epochal shift in Chinese urban policy that aims for the near-total urbanization of China’s territory and population. His current book project investigates the origins of China’s rapid urbanization in the 1980s, with a particular focus on the Shekou Industrial Zone. He is also currently expanding his research beyond mainland China to include industrial policy and urbanization in the Sinosphere, comparative studies of urban–rural relations in Asia, and the building of model towns and the history of futurity in Southeast Asia.

Beginning from the proposition that urbanization is a process of collective problem solving, Smith's teaching introduces students to the diversity of urban processes and experiences from around the world as a way to encourage the reflexive pursuit of socially just urban futures and engaged practices of urban citizenship. His current course offerings include Urbanizing ChinaUrban Elsewheres: Exploring a World of Cities, the Comparative Urban Research Lab, and The Just City: Global Debates in Urban Planning and Policy.

Smith is currently Assistant Professor of Architecture and Urban Studies at Barnard College, Columbia University. Prior to joining Barnard, he was a founding member of the Urban Studies faculty at Yale–NUS College in Singapore. Smith received his A.B. (East Asian Studies), A.M. (Architecture), and Ph.D. (Urban Planning) from Harvard University. He has also held visiting positions at Oxford University (Oxford China Centre), Chongqing University (Faculty of Architecture and Urban Planning), and Renmin University (History). He is a current member of the Advisory Board of the Urban China Research Network.


Smith, Nick R. 2021. The End of the Village: Planning the Urbanization of Rural China. University of Minnesota Press: Minneapolis, MN