Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 1 session / week, 3 hours / session

Course Description and Objectives

During the last fifteen years, nations across the globe embarked on a historic transformation away from centrally planned economies to market-oriented ones. However, in the common pursuit for economic growth, these transition countries implemented widely different reform strategies with mixed results. With over a decade of empirical evidence now available, this new course examines this phenomenon that has pushed the discourse in a number of disciplines, requiring us to reconsider fundamental issues such as:

  • the proper relationship between business, government, and the public interest
  • the possible synergies and tensions between economic growth and equity
  • how economic transition has reshaped cities

The premise of the course is that the core issue in transition involves institution-building and re-building in different contexts. Each week this seminar invites leading scholars and practitioners of transition economies in Eastern Europe, CIS, and Asia to present their findings and experience and provide material for our debate and inquiry.

Course Format

This course's format is unusual in that it incorporates the Department of Urban Studies and Planning's SPURS luncheon seminar series which has been organized by the course professor. The first half of each class session will meet for the guest lecture that is open to the public. After a short ten-minute break, course participants will re-convene at 2pm for further lecture and discussion.

Course Text

The great advantage of this format is that the course readings will highlight the publications of the guest presenters allowing students to directly engage with the authors and those involved in the process of economic transition.

The course readings will be posted on the class Web site and passed out in class sessions.

Assignments and Grading

Students have several options. If you would like to take the course pass/fail, you can submit the weekly written responses to the reading and be an active participant in the class discussions.

All reading responses are due on Friday before class meets. Late submissions will be graded with a penalty.

If you would like to take this course for a grade, you will also need to submit a final paper.

The assignments are graded with the following weights:

Eleven, One-Page Reading Responses60%Graded on a scale of 1-20
Final Paper40%Letter Graded

One-Page Reading Responses

In an effort to engage with the guest speakers and to promote lively classroom discussion, students will submit one page responses to the assigned reading. In these written assignments it will be impossible to summarize all the reading. Rather, the student should write a response to each class session's discussion questions listed in the course syllabus. Students should also bring additional questions that came to mind while doing the reading to share with the class.

Final Paper

The intent of the final paper is to be interesting and educational for the student (not to mention the professor!). While other options are possible after consultation with the professor, the student may pick one of the following two options:

1) A Report on one Transition Country's Path of Transition

  • Outline the country-specific pre-transition history and conditions.
  • Outline and discuss the transition path taken by this country in terms of political
    reforms, pacing, phasing, privatization, and other economic reforms as well as macro-economic and international factors that impacted the country's transition.
  • Assemble, present, and discuss as much empirical evidence of the transition experience as you can. You may want to focus on key economic sectors but justify your selection.

2) A Final Paper on a Specific Urban Planning Problem in the Context of Transition Countries

These can include housing provision, infrastructure and transportation development, employment, environment, historic preservation, or many other topics. Discussing why the transition poses unique challenges to the selected planning issue and then discuss the issue by comparing how two different transition countries managed it.

The proposed final paper topic must be submitted by Lecture #4 and approved after Lecture #5. The final paper is due Lecture #11.