It is easy to assume that innovations in Urban Planning can only happen in a developed country and that developing countries could not possibly achieve it due to lack of resources or lack of capacity to implement policies. But over the last two decades, some Latin American cities have proved this assumption wrong; its leaders have implemented a series of innovative policies and transformed their cities and the quality of life of its citizens.
Since the 1980s, several Latin American countries rolled out policies on the national level that focused on democratization, transparency, security, and decentralization. City government leaders took a new approach to urban challenges. With teams headed by charismatic mayors that did not fit the typical of politicians, city government tackled the corruption and clientelism so common in their cities. The strategies they adopted focused on improving mobility for all, creating educational facilities, recuperating and improving public spaces, and designing better homes for the poor.
In this class, we will study Latin American cities that exemplified these innovative policies. We will look at: the Brazilian city of Curitiba, which developed an ingenious bus system (bus rapid transit or BRT) expanded its system of natural preserves, and implemented interesting policies of recycling; Bogotá, Colombia, which created a civic culture, recuperated public spaces, and reduced the use of the auto by implementing a BRT and a large net of bicycle paths; Medellin, Colombia, where the leadership focused on the education of the poor, and built and revitalized a series of high quality libraries, schools, and training centers in the poorest neighborhoods; Santiago, Chile with an interesting case of social housing build through a process of public participation of its final users; and finally, Mexico City, which built on federal budgeting reforms to increase social housing for low-income residents.
|Spring 2014||Maria Elosua||Syllabus|