Course Meeting Times

Seminars: 2 sessions / week, 2 hours / session


There are no prerequisites for this course. However, students were asked to fill out this questionnaire prior to class. (PDF)


The disaster in New Orleans is over; the T.V. cameras have gone and the public has moved on to thinking about economic crises, a jobless recovery, and flooding in Queensland, Australia. But is it really over? Has New Orleans been rebuilt? What has been rebuilt in New Orleans and what remains to be done? What lessons have we learned about our abilities to respond to natural disasters, and our abilities to offer sustainable, capacity-building approaches to New Orleans post-Katrina?

The struggle of New Orleans post-disaster derives from competing visions for a future state of the city. Divergent views on what is a successful recovery for New Orleans remain. Yet, statistics point to a continuing downward spiral. The murder rate remains one of the highest in the nation. At least 200,000 residents have not returned after evacuating to various parts of the US. Entire public housing projects have been closed and/or demolished. Many neighborhoods have not even begun to recover while others have been quick to organize and reconstruct. The future of New Orleans remains uncertain.

City to City, as a class, will jump into the complexity of planning in New Orleans, a post-disaster city. City to City will ask how does a post-disaster city grapple with its ideas of identity, what it is, who it represents, and how it projects its sense of self to residences, businesses, tourists, and to the outside world. In considering its people, how do city planners think about who lives where and why? At the same time, how can city planners celebrate a city's history and its culture and how can these elements be woven into reconstruction?

City to City students will work on projects through the spring semester. Students will travel from Cambridge to New Orleans over Spring Break to meet and consult with their alumni clients, and continue to work on projects.

Class Requirements

During the spring semester, the class will meet twice weekly. Monday classes are 1-1/2 hours in length and are devoted to reviewing materials either through lecture, audio, or visual media. Wednesday classes are 1-1/2 hours and are reserved mostly for in-class work time and discussion. This schedule does not apply to the first two weeks of class, which will be focused on background materials.

This class is also includes a Spring Break workshop in New Orleans. Fieldwork and some class lectures will take place during this trip.

Class requirements include extensive reading, ongoing assignments related to development of the project, active class participation, participation in the field trips, ongoing communication with the client, and active involvement and contribution to the team project. Here are the details:

Class participation/attendance 15%
Peer evaluations 5%
Research reports and analysis 20%
Field journal assignments 20%
Posters/presentations 10%
Final group project report/presentation 30%

Attendance is absolutely mandatory. Discussions and targeted presentations will form the heart of the class and determine the direction of exploration for you and the instructors alike. As a project-based course, we will introduce a number of tools that will allow you to explore the city in novel ways. This exploration and the path of the class as a whole will be dependent on your presence and participation.

Peer Evaluation

In addition, team members will be asked to evaluate and grade each member of the group (including themselves) based on individuals' active participation in the project and contribution to the team. These evaluations will be considered during the grading process.