11.943J | Spring 2002 | Graduate

Urban Transportation, Land Use, and the Environment


Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 1 session / week, 3 hours / session

General Description

This course is aimed at the aspiring planning practitioner, policy-maker, or industry decision-maker with an interest in urban transportation and environmental issues in Latin America. The course will focus on current transport-related themes confronting many cities in the region, including: rapid motorization and suburbanization and subsequent impacts on transportation infrastructure and quality of life; public sector management and improvement of privately-owned and operated transit systems; and, transportation air pollution problems and potential solutions.

The course will be geared towards interactive problem-solving, taking advantage of students’ skills and experiences in: institutional analysis, policy analysis, and project and program evaluation and implementation. Detailed knowledge of transportation planning is not required; instead, the course will attempt to place the general practitioner into a specific transportation public policy situation and draw from her skills to devise real solutions. To fulfill this problem-solving orientation, the course will be divided into two parts. Part I of the course will consist of a series of lectures on the principal issues surrounding transportation in the developing world (including motorization, fiscal pressures, urban sprawl), concepts of sustainability as they relate to urban transportation,regional strategic planning approaches, and transportation policy and technology options and examples of successful implementation. After these lectures, Part II of the course will be dedicated to the two case studies, where students will apply the knowledge gained in Part I to develop strategic solutions to the transport-land use-environment challenges in two different cities.

The Case Study Approach

The two case studies - of Mexico City and Santiago de Chile - will provide students the opportunity to work in teams to conduct in-depth analysis of current problems and potential solutions. For each case study, the student teams will be expected to develop viable plans for overcoming the challenges to making progress. Students will come away from this course with a better understanding of practical options for addressing the transport-land use- environment issues in developing country cities and a clearer view of the political/institutional/financial realities of implementing policy, technology and behavioral solutions.

Four classes will be dedicated to each of the two case studies. For each case study, one student group (perhaps more, depending on class size) will be assigned to develop detailed strategies to address the specific case study problems - this student group will play the role of the “consultant.” The other students will role play as the “client” - each student representing a certain “stakeholder” (i.e., government official, transit operator, NGO, etc.). The “consultant” student group - drawing from class discussions, critiques, and its own research - will present its draft proposed strategy during the next-to-last class dedicated to the specific case study. The “stakeholder” students will critique the presentation. The “consultant” student group will then incorporate these comments and further research before making a final presentation during the last class dedicated to the case study. After this presentation, each “stakeholder” student will produce a one to two page response to the “consultant” final recommendations. For the second case, students will reverse roles.

Requirements and Basis of Evaluation

There are four principal requirements and basis of evaluation for students taking this course:

  1. Completion of a 4 brief (1-2 page) issue papers on the materials covered during the course’s Introductory Section (15%).
  2. Participation in a student “consulting” team for one of the case studies - over a four week period, the team will develop a strategic transportation plan for the city, with feedback from “stakeholders” (65%)
  3. Participation in a student “stakeholder” team for the other case study - the stakeholders will critique the “consulting” team’s draft presentation and provide a one to two page response to the “consultant” final recommendations (15%).
  4. Class participation (5%).

Course Web Site and Materials

Course announcements, syllabus, assignments and other relevant information will be available via the course web site. The required readings and most of the recommended readings for this course will be available via a “virtual” reader, available through the course web site. Students will be able to access these readings - at no charge - as .pdf files through the web. The readings are also available via the E-reserve system. Some of the additional readings are available in hard copy on reserve at Rotch Library. Additional details are contained in the reading list that follows. Students will be expected to do all the assigned reading before class. Additional readings are listed as resources for students, to be drawn from particularly during the case studies (i.e., in preparation of the consultant recommendations). For the case studies, all students (consultant and stakeholder teams) are expected to do all the assigned readings.