Course Meeting Times
Seminar: 3 sessions / week, 1.5 hours / session
There are no prerequisites for this course.
It is not easy to cultivate the right sensibilities for planning practice for a group of students who come from different disciplinary backgrounds and hope to work in different institutional settings that address different types of problems: there is no one recipe for such education. That is why we have adopted a three-pronged approach. First, we have organized this course around key debates in the field of urban and regional planning since its formalization as a profession in the US in the early part of the last century. Our focus on debates is deliberate, because we want you to understand why and how planning ideas emerged at certain historical moments; who backed and offered those ideas and why; and why some ideas captured public imagination while others dwindled. Collectively, these debates will sensitize you about what planners care about, why, how they went about implementing their ideas, how such ideas might have been altered during implementation, and useful lessons you can draw from past debates to address current challenges.
The second strategy this course relies on is to cultivate a sense of community so you do not feel alone and isolated in grappling with what are inherently difficult problems. We will do so by first cultivating a sense of community among your colleagues at the Department of Urban Studies and Planning (DUSP). This requires that we develop a sense of trust and collegiality among us through dialogues, debates, questioning, reflection, and of course, friendship. The class discussions and the group meetings should serve this purpose. This is easier said than done, again, because you all come from so many different social backgrounds, with diverse cultural upbringings and expectations, different gender roles in mind, and are used to different forms of authority in the way you have been educated in the past. A good conversation among such a diverse group of students will take time to evolve, and each of you will have to contribute by listening well, articulating your thoughts and hesitations, questioning your own thinking and that of others.
The third strategy of this course is to introduce you to key concerns shaping planning practice now. We do so by inviting guest lecturers who will address one issue that is at the heart of the profession— namely how to address various forms of inequalities in four domains: class, race, gender and social identity of “outsiders” (which is clear in the current national debate regarding immigration). These lectures will be supplemented with two panel discussions with DUSP alumni who are currently engaged in addressing such inequalities. We will learn from the experience of the alumni, and, also you will get to ask them how best to use your time at DUSP to prepare you well for the kinds of challenges you are likely to face as practicing planners once you graduate.
There is no required textbook for this course.
Expectations, Requirements, and Course Structure
You will be asked to write two detailed individual responses in the first half of the course, and two in the second half of the course. In addition, you will be asked to write two longer essays elaborating your position in more detail. For the midterm essay, you will be asked to choose one of your two individual responses in the first half and develop it in more detail. Similarly, for the final essay you will be asked to choose one of your two individual responses in the second half and develop it in more detail. More details are below. In addition, your group will be asked to take a collective position on four debates during the semester. This position will be elaborated in a group response posted to the class forum. Other groups are encouraged to interrogate these responses on the forum. More details are below.
During the semester, you will have several opportunities to contribute to the creation of a professional community of practice. Your main contribution will be through understanding, elaborating and sharpening your own position on the debates, and interrogating the positions of your classmates. You will be expected to pose questions in class based on the readings, and to engage the questions of your classmates. You will also have the opportunity to explore your position in more depth, both individually and in a group setting.
In addition, your group will be asked to take a collective position on four debates during the semester. This position will be elaborated in a group response posted to the class forum. Other groups are encouraged to interrogate these responses on the forum.
Assignments and Grades
|Response papers (individual and group)||25%|
|Research paper midterm||25%|
|Research paper final||25%|
Take a position on four debates — two before week 7 and two after week 6. You are free to choose which debates you would like to engage further with. Your response should be no more than 500 words. Individual responses will be graded (check, check+ or check -)
Length: 10 pages double-spaced. Font: Times New Roman 12. Margins: 1 inch. Format: Rich Text Format (.rtf).
- Midterm Essay: Take a position on a debate from the first half of the semester (before Week 7).
- Final Essay: Take a position on a debate from the second half of the semester (after Week 6).
Students will be assigned to one of three groups during the semester. The teaching team will announce the groups during the first class.
On four Fridays during the semester you will meet with your group to discuss that week’s debate. Your group will be required to produce responses to these four debates. Each response should synthesize the views in your group and take an overall group position on a debate. It should be no more than 500 words. This response will be visible to the entire class, and you will receive feedback from your peers.
Students are expected to participate in group and class discussions. Participating in class and discussing ideas is an important part of your grade, and, more importantly, your education as a student of planning.
Students are expected to read the materials listed under the “Required Readings” section of the syllabus prior to coming to the class for which the readings are assigned. There is no textbook.
Name cards will be given to you on the first day of class. Students are expected to bring their name cards to every class and keep them visible to the lecturer for the duration of each class.
Teaching assistants will assist individual students and groups with questions about the readings, discussions and research ideas.
Attendance: Students are expected to attend every class, group discussion session and required lecture. In case you must miss any of these please get prior permission from the instructor or TA. Please note that you will not be permitted more than three such absences during the semester.