Course Meeting Times

Seminar: 1 session / week, 2 hours / session


MIT students are required to get the permission of the instructor.

Course Description and Objectives

While many are concerned about housing and land use in cities, this course posits that the core issue more precisely concerns property rights. Probably one of the most inter-disciplinary courses you will ever take, this course reviews how law, economics, sociology, and planning theory conceptualize urban land and property rights and uses cases to discuss what these different lenses illuminate and obscure. It also looks at how the social sciences might be informed by design, cartography, and visual studies' approach to space's physicality. The class then explores cases when property rights strategies have been used to increase economic growth and social justice so that students may gain insight for possible design and policy interventions in the future. This year's topics include land trusts for affordable housing, mixed-use in public space, and critical cartography.

This class takes a departure from more typical "housing in developing countries" classes because we are in an era when First world/Third world dichotomies are insufficient to understand the varieties of and interconnections between housing and land use situations in different parts of the world. It also moves beyond looking at isolated demonstration development projects and boilerplate policy prescriptions to examine the more fundamental issue: the struggle for rights to space in the city.

Assignments and Grading

Course grades will be calculated to the following weights:

Reading responses and class participation 60%
Final paper or project 30%
Final presentation 10%