1.252J | Fall 2016 | Graduate

Urban Transportation Planning

Instructor Insights

Drawing from Research and Experience

In this section, Frederick Salvucci shares that the reading selection in 1.252J Urban Transportation Planning is influenced by his research, and that the work students do in the course, in turn, shapes his research agenda. He also discusses how he draws on his own experience working in the field to teach the course.

Using Research to Shape the Class

"I go back and forth between using my research to shape the class, and using the class to shape my research."
— Frederick Salvucci

My research in the field of urban transportation helps me identify many of the readings I use in 1.252J Urban Transportation Planning. If they’re relevant to a particular problem, I’ll also occasionally include texts I’ve written with colleagues in the assigned readings. I take things directly out of the research and use them in class.

I also do the opposite. I use the process of defining a problem, assigning it, reading all of the student papers, and writing the feedback memos and the composite feedback memo, to figure out what I think about a problem. Sometimes I can use that in my own research. I go back and forth between using my research to shape the class, and using the class to shape my research.

Teaching from Experience

During the semester, I share with students my experiences as a citizen activist and as a civil servant working for the City of Boston and for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Sometimes I give a lecture on the Big Dig, which I supported during my time as Secretary of Transportation, because the students are interested in it. Students watch the PBS hour-long documentary that was made in the late 1990s, before the project was fully complete, and we discuss the film together. I also have a variety of presentations I’ve developed over the years to explain different aspects of the project.

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Instructor Insights