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Markets, Design and the City

Course Description

Cities today drive the world economy: they contain just over half of the world's population but generate over 80% of the world's GDP. Cities create this value by being dynamic environments where people and ideas can come together and mix in unplanned, spontaneous ways. Despite the critical role for city leaders in supporting this dynamism, those leaders too often do not understand the role of the market in urban areas. Instead, urban planning often remains one of the last vestiges of the of 20th century Soviet-style central planning, imposing untold costs on cities and their residents. Planners too often try to micromanage land use while neglecting the design and development of infrastructure, which markets alone cannot provide.

This class, based on Alain Bertaud's forthcoming book, Order Without Design, will examine the critical role of the market in cities, show how the popular urban planning and policy approach usually ignores the market, harming cities, and explore how a proper understanding of the market can be incorporated into city planning, management, and policy to improve the success of cities. Subject areas will include urban labor markets, urban spatial structures, land prices, population densities, mobility and transport, and housing affordability. The course is open to graduate students and advanced undergraduates from all disciplines. 

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