Profile: Dr. Eva Sternfeld | Geographer & Sinologist

Location Berlin, Beijing
© Dr. Eva Sternfeld

A sinologist and geographer by training, Dr. Eva Sternfeld has a long history of travelling and researching in China, focusing on issues related to urban and rural development and the environment. Since her first study trip to China in 1979 she has spent altogether more than 14 years in China, most of the time based in Beijing, but also travelled to other places. Over the 40 years she has observed the tremendous changes of Chinese cities, a development no one could imagine back in 1979.

Eva Sternfeld’s research on Beijing and China’s environment started in 1980 with the translation of the first environmental atlas of Beijing for a research project of the Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin. Later in the 1990s, she focused her PhD research on the water crisis in Beijing and related water management policies. Between 2000 and 2008, she has been working as a foreign expert at an institution of the Chinese Ministry for Environmental Protection.

In 2008, she returned to Berlin, where for six years she was coordinator of the Center for Cultural Studies on Science and Technology at TU Berlin and from 2014 to 2017 was visiting professor at the Institute for Sinology at FU Berlin. During her time in Berlin she has been mainly involved in research related to climate and energy issues. Since 2018, she lives again in Beijing and works as science advisor for the Sino-German Agricultural Center. Through this work her focus has changed a little from urban issues to rural-urban nexus. However this still includes CITYMAKERS topics such as urban farming and urban consumers’ concern about food safety.

What do you value in being part of the CITYMAKERS China-Europe network?

Eva Sternfeld: “CITYMAKERS is a great network representing the great variety and diversity of practioners, activists, artists, researchers, communicators and other talents, everything what is needed to create liveable cities. I am impressed how the network grew and developed, showing all the facettes of urban life and developing topics. I am especially enjoying the lively WeChat group which is always a good source for inspiration and a good tool for finding and sharing information.”

What drives you with regard to city making? What is important?

“Cities are a cosmos, one can find everything there. Although city planners and architects are important for the design of cities, cities are not their creation – there is also the socio-economic development, the cultural and political impact as well as the environmental factors that form a city. All these factors are responsible for creating lively and liveable cities and places. The challenge is to bring them together. I think the CITYMAKERS network is a good tool to take up this challenge.”