Courses In: Cities

Community Equity and Wealth Building

This course introduces graduate students to the field of community wealth-building and the movement for a solidarity economy. Students will examine the role of public policy in shaping racial inequality in the U.S.; ways that community groups have organized against redlining and for access to capital and neighborhood equity; strategies for ensuring community-led economic development and a just transition from an extractive to a regenerative economy; and technical tools needed to advance cooperative economics and locally-controlled development.

Planning Healthy Neighborhoods

In the US, Health is a privilege, not a right. Approaches to health in this country have focused on treatment and cures, rather than prevention and care. Studies have shown that your zip code, where you live, matters more to your health than your genetic code. Concurrently, data continues to emerge that trauma, and the effects of trauma, can be passed through our genes, from generation to generation, suggesting that enslavement, forced displacement, and poverty of our ancestors are felt in our bones, today.

Urban Infrastructure Project Planning

This course is about the process of scoping and planning public sector investment projects and the basic knowledge and skills required for their financial and economic appraisal (‘ex-ante’ evaluation).

The focus is on urban infrastructure projects identified, prioritized, and appraised through local/municipal planning processes. Case studies include water supply and sewerage, urban transport, solid waste management and green infrastructure.

Equitable Community Engagement

Key to the planning profession is engagement. Most of a planner’s work necessitates engagement of institutions and of people in order to effectuate change, and change (or prevention thereof) is the planner’s currency. Specifically this course will look at community engagement, or engagement of the public within a defined geography. What is community? How is it defined? What does it look and feel like? And how does it manifest itself, or not, as part of the planning process? Communities in the United States are rarely equitable, particularly as it relates to planning.

Understanding the Role Federal Tax Credits Play in the Affordable Housing & Renewable Energy Sectors

For better or worse, both affordable housing and renewable energy projects in the US are mostly built and owned by private developers and corporations. These private developers in turn are reliant on private capital provided by investors, corporations and banks. Almost all these investors rely heavily on federal tax credits.  90% of affordable housing in the US receives a subsidy through the low-income housing tax credit (“LIHTC”). Virtually all large-scale wind and solar projects receive tax credit subsides as well (“ITC” or “PTC”).

Housing Policy I

This is the first course in a two-course sequence in housing policy, with an emphasis on major federal policies and the connection between housing, place and opportunity. This first course explores the historic, economic and social context of current housing policy and debates in the U.S., including how housing and community conditions and policies are intertwined. It provides an overview of housing policies, and how they play out on the ground.

Urban Design

This course, “Urban Design— Visualization Tools & Neighborhood Challenges,” will introduce students to visualization techniques in a series of linked exercises during the first half of the semester; in the second half of the semester, students will further develop these visualization and design tools as they address challenges and opportunities in a rapidly-changing New York City neighborhood. Instructor Joanna Simon will teach the first half of the course while Professor Louise Harpman will teach the second half.

Environmental Infrastructure for Sustainable Cities

Sustainability requires the efficient use of resources.  The least carbon- and energy-intensive pattern of settlement today is in compact, walkable cities whose integrated networks of infrastructure that allows us to move, eat, drink, play, and survive extreme weather.  As our population shifts to urban and coastal areas, we will need to build more infrastructure systems to accommodate growth and to increase sustainability.  Yet we are building too little, too slow to maintain our existing infrastructure, let alone to facilitate next generation systems that will accelerate ou

Urban Plan Practicum

This experiential course is designed to examine the nexus between real estate development and urban planning. Building on a case study designed by the Urban Land Institute (ULI), students are placed on teams of 4-5 students and assume the following roles on a private development team: finance director, marketing director, city liaison, neighborhood liaison, and site planner. Student development teams respond to an RFP to redevelop a 5 ½ block site from a hypothetical city with unique combinations of residential, office, commercial, and community facility uses.

Environmental Planning: Communities, Fairness, and Beyond

What are the possibilities and limits that communities, broadly conceived, encounter for achieving environmental justice at the intersection of race, class, gender and caste? This course develops a framework for understanding key issues in Environmental Planning and Activism from the perspective of communities, collective action and fairness. Students will also be encouraged to begin developing their own philosophical orientation and toolkit for practice.

Topics in Urban Studies: City Lab - Converting Brown Office Buildings into Green Homes

This seven-week class is the first in a series of “City Lab” classes that will offer an in-depth analysis of a current issue confronting cities. This first lab class will consider the potential for adaptive re-use of office buildings to address various challenges facing cities across the U.S. -- underutilized office space as many employers offer flexibility to work from home, energy inefficient building stocks, and an inadequate supply of affordable housing.

Racial Inequality in America: What Do We Do Now?

Students in this course will explore the spatial aspects of inequality, including racial segregation, concentrated poverty, and government structure. Course materials will investigate the consequences of these inequalities for individuals, communities, and American society as a whole, as well as how these seemingly-intractable problems were created by and continue because of public policy decisions. This course will be an interactive experience, requiring preparation before coming to class and active exchange during class.