City Planning & Urban Affairs Graduate Courses

Click on any course title below to read its description. Courses offered in the upcoming semester include a schedule, and are indicated by a label to the right of the title.

Limited to a maximum of 8 credits toward degree requirements. Approval by program director required prior to registration. Study of urban and public affairs individually arranged between the student and an appropriate instructor to provide training opportunities not available elsewhere.  [ 4 cr. ]

Examination of selected cases in municipal and public management. Organization, financial management, personnel relations, program planning and budgeting, and issues of public and private sector relations. The administration of municipal functions, including health, police, schools, and housing.   [ 4 cr. ]

Operation of the criminal justice system in the urban setting. Special attention is paid to the problems of safeguarding individual rights. Examines relationship between social and economic structure of cities and workings of the system of justice.  [ 4 cr. ]

Various factors affecting location, construction, financing, and marketing of real estate in metropolitan areas. Studies the relationship of public policy to the activities of the private sector, market analysis techniques, evaluation of development projects, and problems of real estate investment.   [ 4 cr. ]

Economic, social, and political aspects of state and local government finances. Theory of public finance; revenues, expenditures, and survey of budgetary processes. Planning techniques in capital budgeting and other finance activities. Selected issues: debt, user fees, property taxes, and incentives.   [ 4 cr. ]

Section Type Instructor Location Days Times
B1 IND German CAS 229 T 6:00 pm – 8:45 pm

UA510 is the designation for "Special Topics in Planning". The subject matter for UA510 courses changes from semester to semester, and more than one UA510 can be offered in a given semester.

Summer 1 2017 -- Special Topic: "Transit Oriented Development in the 21st Century" (Section A1, TUES/THUR 6 PM Instructor: Johnson) - As rates of urbanization continue to increase, there is amplified demand for housing, economic development, and connectivity through transportation networks. This course unpacks 'sustainable development' by focusing on strategies and best practices at the intersection of zoning and land use patterns with sustainable transportation options (e.g. subway, bus, rapid transit, biking, and walking). Students learn how to address sustainable development and transportation issues at the local, state, regional, and national levels. Case studies are used to address central issues many cities are facing. Topics covered include stakeholder engagement, climate change preparedness and adaptation, resilience planning, transportation networks, bikeshare and bikeable networks, walkability, equity, sustainable land use, and zoning.

Summer 2, 2017 -- Special Topic: "Public Health and the Built Environment" (Section B1, MON/WED 6 PM Instructor: Zemel) - Since the mid-1800s, scientists and researchers have continuously shown how public policies significantly impact the health of individuals now and in the future. Through readings, case studies, guest lectures, and in-class exercises, students learn about the lasting impacts of many of these policies. Students are also introduced to a variety of strategies used to design interventions that target urban problems and to the role of evidence in the policymaking process. This course is well- suited for curious students with an introductory background in planning, public health, and related fields.

Summer 2, 2017 -- Special Topic: "Feeding the City: Urban Food" (Section B2, TUES/THUR 6 PM Instructor: Carroll) - Examines historical and contemporary issues involved in providing food to cities and metropolitan areas. Tracing the routes that food takes into the city and the major sources of food, the course looks closely at the accessibility of food, especially in poorer urban neighborhoods. Among topics covered are obesigenic neighborhoods, food deserts, gentrification and foodie culture, public school food nutrition, attempts to minimize food waste, and immigrants and ethnic foods in the city. The course also considers recent attempts at food production in cities, including urban agriculture, vertical farming, and craft production of food products. After closely looking at the history and current status of food programs, the course concludes with a consideration of urban food policies.

Spring 2017-- Special Topic: "History of Metropolitan Boston" (Section A1) This course provides an historical overview of Boston's metropolitan development, from the earliest country estates to suburban sprawl and the smart growth movement. The course is based upon the recent book The Hub's Metropolis: Greater Boston's Development from Railroad Suburbs to Smart Growth (The MIT Press, 2013). It provides historical context for understanding the region's contemporary planning efforts that are addressing the challenges of low- density sprawl, climate change, and the global information age economy. The course examines ten periods of Greater Boston's metropolitan development. The class explores how each era produced a distinctive vernacular land use development pattern. Each period had particular characteristics related to the built landscape, transportation, real estate development patterns, housing styles, commercial development, and the treatment of open and public space. Although there has been much formal government planning over the years, there is a "deep structure" to development patterns that is not easily altered by planners, politicians, or developers. Each era of suburbanization has also been shaped by cultural attitudes toward suburbs, the city, and social class.
The course discusses how Boston has been a national pace-setter for many features of suburbanization, including country estates, railroad suburb subdivisions, streetcar suburbs, land use zoning, open space conservation, highway beltways, shopping centers, office parks, edge cities, and central city revitalization. Landscape architecture pioneer Frederick Law Olmsted promoted model suburban designs from his home and office in the garden suburb of Brookline. The Metropolitan District Commission's park- and-parkway system, which was created around 1900, was the country's first example of regional planning. The city of Boston is noteworthy for its vibrant central city, which suffered a painful postwar decline, but crafted a nationally-regarded revival.

Spring 2017 -- Special Topic: "Urban Sustainability and Climate Change" (Section B1) Human led urbanization and globalization have produced serious negative impacts on the natural ecology of the planet earth. Climate change is one such impact that has put human settlements at risk by weakening the social and economic resources for long-term survival of people living in cities, towns and rural areas. The increased frequency and severe impacts of natural disasters demands that planning understand the dynamics and interconnectedness between urbanization, globalization and climate change; and their impacts on people and human settlements. They need to understand the governance and political complexities of meeting sustainability goals. This course makes students knowledgeable about the negative impacts of urbanization and globalization on climate and human habitat; and procedural, bureaucratic and political challenges in meeting sustainability goals. It provides lessons for planning practice by exposing students to several best and worst planning examples.  [ 4 cr. ]

Sum1 2017
Section Type Instructor Location Days Times
SA1 IND Johnson CAS B18 TR 6:00 pm – 9:30 pm
Fall 2017
Section Type Instructor Location Days Times
A1 IND Jermain CAS 315 M 6:00 pm – 8:45 pm
B1 IND Weis MET B02B T 6:00 pm – 8:45 pm

History, concepts, and methods of contemporary urban and regional planning practice. Governmental, nonprofit, and private settings of professional planning; plans, research, and policy development; uses and implementation of planning. Political analysis of planning issues, such as comprehensiveness, public interest, advocacy, negotiation, and future orientation. Case materials drawn from redevelopment, growth management, land use conflicts, and service delivery.   [ 4 cr. ]

Section Type Instructor Location Days Times
A1 IND Dutta-Koehle CAS 226 M 6:00 pm – 8:45 pm

Principles and status of environmental law for pollution control and environmental improvement. Impact statements, resource conservation and protection, growth management. Emphasis on air, water, land, and hazardous waste issues. Environmental, economic, and other policy relationships. Case materials and court decisions.   [ 4 cr. ]

Section Type Instructor Location Days Times
D1 IND Benson MET B02B R 6:00 pm – 8:45 pm

Students introduced to specific skills and techniques to help them achieve community and urban planning goals. The course covers a range of communications skills, including oral, written, visual, and using social media in planning to help planners develop concise, understandable plans and documents. Grant research, writing, and administration will be discussed. Segments on community outreach and engagement and how to build equity and cultural competency will be explored. Students will be introduced to skills in designing and implementing community meetings, including facilitation skills and managing group dynamics.   [ 4 cr. ]

Section Type Instructor Location Days Times
A1 IND Haynes MCS B25 M 6:00 pm – 8:45 pm

Covers key aspects of the history, theory, and practice of historic preservation. Preservation will be discussed in the context of cultural history and the changing relationship between existing buildings and landscapes and attitudes toward history, memory, invented tradition, and place.  [ 4 cr. ]

This course will introduce students to the wide range of issues involved in building the infrastructure and facilitating the culture change to make bicycling for fun, fitness, and, most especially, a serious mode of transportation across the USA. The course will be structured in four parts. Part I will focus on defining the problem and the opportunity. Part II will cover strategies to support and encourage bicycling. Part III will discuss how to build both political and public support for bicycling. Part IV will allow students to synthesize the course concepts into a final bicycle planning or advocacy project.   [ 4 cr. ]

Seminar in architectural and landscape recording techniques involving readings, fieldwork, and writing; projects include research on individual buildings as well as groups of resources. Emphasis on research design and evaluation of evidence.  [ 4 cr. ]

The sociology of HBO's 'The Wire'. Explores major urban issues as depicted in the HBO Series--The Wire through a variety of methodologies. The Wire has been highly acclaimed as an important contribution elucidating issues of social structure, culture, and agency in American cities. The course explores the social construction of the city as a major theme. How are we to understand urban America as portrayed by the media?   [ 4 cr. ]

Examination of a selected country, region, or city in relation to issues of urbanization and development planning. Emphasis on comparative analysis of policy, techniques, conditions, issues, and effectiveness. Topics and international subjects vary. Consult the department for details.   [ 4 cr. ]

This course will provide an in-depth understanding of current climate change related policies in effect and/or being negotiated at different scales (global to local). The students will analyze ongoing debates (for example adaptation vs. mitigation) and learn from prevalent theories, to formulate their own positions on how best to plan for climate change. The final project will entail the formulation of "formal" climate action plans for an assigned urban area.  [ 4 cr. ]

Case studies of political decision-making roles in urban conflict management and resource allocation. Community power distribution, factors influencing change, leadership styles, and relationships to administrators and planners. Selected policy issues, such as redevelopment, education, crime, and service delivery.   [ 4 cr. ]

Examination of community development challenges in several areas, including housing, economic development, community policing, and resident activism. Analysis of past and present strategies for strengthening communities through case studies, actual government and community programs, guest lectures, and related readings.   [ 4 cr. ]

The role of urban design in the community development process. Examines human behavior, aesthetic foundations of design methods, citizen/client participation, and public policy issues. Analysis of actual community spaces. Student design exercises.   [ 4 cr. ]

Section Type Instructor Location Days Times
C1 IND Dutta-Koehle CAS 228 W 6:00 pm – 8:45 pm

Sustainability generally refers to the ability of "systems" to be maintained such that they remain viable over long periods of time. As much as achieving the perfect sustainable equilibrium may be the ideal, it is important to recognize that there will be competing and conflicting interests, especially within complex hierarchical social, economic and ecological systems, particularly in light of ongoing climatic change. This field intensive course draws on the practices and theories of sustainability and climate change to understand what sustainability can mean in different contexts, and, more important, how nuanced, sustainable solutions can be achieved under varying conditions and in different systems. With an emphasis on the urban environment, the course will consist of projects in which students will identify, analyze, and develop practical proposals to real world issues. This course is intended for a wider audience from a range of disciplines.   [ 4 cr. ]

This course will provide students with a broad introduction to important concepts and policy issues in transportation, principally at an urban and metropolitan level. In addition, the course will explore methods planning practitioners can use to analyze transportation problems and propose solutions. The course will use specific examples of planning initiatives (both operations and capital) from transportation agencies within the Boston Metropolitan region. Guest speakers from local, regional, and state transportation agencies within the Greater Boston Metropolitan area will supplement the instructor's lectures and assigned readings.   [ 4 cr. ]

Section Type Instructor Location Days Times
C1 IND Hassol MET B02B W 6:00 pm – 8:45 pm

Techniques of land use planning, including socioeconomic studies, market analysis and needs forecasting, mapping, environment and service impacts, and transportation/land use coordination. Policies for achieving land use objectives: planned unit development, zoning, development corporations, new towns, and land preservation.   [ 4 cr. ]

Analysis of regional planning as applied to land use, economic development, infrastructure systems, and other topics. Cases and class projects selected from metropolitan and substate regions, including regional approaches and organizations, economic base, comparative advantage, and growth centers.   [ 4 cr. ]

Interrelationships between physical environment and processes of urbanization. Case studies develop historical perspective on social, economic, and physical aspects of the quality of urban life. Special attention to the preparation of environmental impact statements and assessment of urban environmental quality.   [ 4 cr. ]

Discussion of techniques for aiding decision makers in setting goals, evaluating alternatives, and predicting outcomes, including cost-benefit analysis, risk taking, and other commonly applied methodologies. Development of evaluative research skills.   [ 4 cr. ]

Problems confronting managers of manpower and related human services programs. Emphasis on state and local levels, and intergovernmental relations. Techniques of program analysis, management, and control. Planning approaches to enhance and retain urban employment, and improve employability.   [ 4 cr. ]

Geographic Information Systems for Planners provides an introduction to Geographic Information Systems (GIS) specifically with a focus on applications in urban planning. The role of spatial analysis in local, state and regional planning has steadily increased over the last decade with the infusion of windows-based GIS software such as ESRI ArcGIS. The class focus is to prepare students to feel comfortable communicating with other GIS users, research spatial data, and produce high quality digital maps in an applied learning environment.  [ 4 cr. ]

Section Type Instructor Location Days Times
B1 IND Sungu-Eryilm CAS 330 T 6:00 pm – 8:45 pm

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Nonprofits and Land Use Development will explore the unique land use and economic development issues linked to non-profit institutions. Particular attention is paid to the relationship between the tax status and land use patterns of non-profits and their broader impact on social equity, labor markets and community relations. Students will also learn more about the legal controls communities use to regulate development and the important role of community planning and professional planners in the development process.   [ 4 cr. ]

This course specifically explores the area where the private and public sectors meet so that the student can develop an awareness of the complexity of dealing with these often competing interests. The objective of the course is to give the student an understanding of the motivations of the private sector in the way they go about creating their products and projects and to leave the student with the tools and knowledge to successfully negotiate the Public Interest with the Private Needs.   [ 4 cr. ]

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Based on the premise that the old city-versus-suburb view is outdated and does not serve well the planning and public policy objective of creating sustainable living environments, this seminar examines the region as an organic economic and social entity as well as a legitimate planning and administrative unit. Students undertake an in-depth analysis of the issues, challenges and opportunities faced by institutionally fragmented U.S. metropolitan regions while exploring the emerging metropolitanist policy movement which embodies the belief that cities and their suburbs are related, rather than antithetical, and make up a single place.  [ 4 cr. ]

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Major problems confronting urban areas and the process of policy formulation and implementation. Emphasis on problem interdependence and systems characteristics. Analysis of problem definitions (housing, crime, poverty, etc.), goals, public/private responsibilities, existing programs, and policy options. Analysis of selected, comparative international experience.   [ 4 cr. ]

Use and analysis of quantitative data in public policy development and planning. Basic skills of organization and presentation of numerical information. Introduction to descriptive statistics, hypothesis testing, correlation, and regression; computer use. Math review.   [ 4 cr. ]

Mixed-Methods Design for Urban Research is intended to develop skills in the evaluation and utilization of quantitative, qualitative, and mixed-methods approaches to scholarship in social-science research. The course will explore survey, experimental, observational, interview, ethnographic, and case-study research methods in depth, and students will learn how to collect, organize, and evaluate data in various forms. Students will create a fully developed research proposal drawing upon mixed-methods techniques to investigate a topic of interest.  [ 4 cr. ]

Section Type Instructor Location Days Times
C1 IND Sungu-Eryilm CAS 324 W 6:00 pm – 8:45 pm

This course provides basic understanding of economics and approaches urban problems and planning issues from economic perspectives. It explores how microeconomic theories and models can help us understand how cities and regions function, analyze urban problems, and evaluate urban policies. This is a broad introductory survey course, focusing on how "microeconomic" actors including business firms, households, and nonprofit and government institutions - organize to provide for the sustaining and flourishing of life.   [ 4 cr. ]

Section Type Instructor Location Days Times
D1 IND Sungu-Eryilm PSY B53 R 6:00 pm – 8:45 pm

Planning, zoning, subdivisions, eminent domain, exactions, impact fees, and other land use controls: what are they, how do they operate, what are the limitations on their use? In this course, we will explore the use of those tools for planning and development and read and understand the important U.S. Supreme Court and state court decisions that have shaped and continue to influence planning and land use throughout the country. We will see the connection between land use controls and court decisions and how each has evolved to meet changing conditions and goals. We will also review the structure of the U.S. legal system and create a framework for understanding constitutional requirements on eminent domain, due process, and equal protection from a planner's perspective.  [ 4 cr. ]

Theory and practicalities involved in conservation of historic buildings. This course will cover the history and theory of building conservation architectural investigations of building, including documentary, constructional, and finish materials to materials for conservation.  [ 4 cr. ]

Seminar on the methods of adapting older buildings to new uses. Emphasis on architectural, legal, and economic factors. Field trips, case studies.   [ 4 cr. ]

Focus on planning techniques and public programs relevant to neighborhood conservation and housing rehabilitation. Preparation of neighborhood preservation plan.  [ 4 cr. ]

The role and process of planning in terms of theory and historical development. Tradition of rational/comprehensive and incremental decision theory: roles and functions, organization, participation, political relationships, and time and information use. Relationships between planning, ideology, ethics, social change, and implementation.   [ 4 cr. ]

Considers the methods employed to protect and plan for the historic landscape. Topics include the history of preservation planning and the broader planning profession, and a review of case law, legislation, and the protection strategies of current preservation practice.  [ 4 cr. ]

A comprehensive preservation planning and advocacy course in which students in the Preservation Studies Program prepare a planning document under contract with a community.  [ 4 cr. ]

This course will focus on how to determine the value and potential income of a property, produce a feasibility analysis, and secure financing for preservation projects.  [ 4 cr. ]

Topic must be approved by designated instructor or advisor. For M.C.P. students only. Application of program coursework and independent research to a selected topic individually arranged.  [ Var cr. ]

A research seminar to explore, in depth, changing themes or current issues in historic preservation.  [ 4 cr. ]

Limited to a maximum of 8 credits toward the degree requirements. Approval by program director required prior to registration. Study of urban and public affairs and planning individually arranged between student and instructor to provide training opportunities not available elsewhere.  [ 4 cr. ]

Limited to a maximum of 8 credits toward the degree requirements. Approval by program director required prior to registration. Study of urban and public affairs and planning individually arranged between student and instructor to provide training opportunities not available elsewhere.  [ Var cr. ]

Limited to a maximum of four credits toward the degree requirements. Approval by program director required prior to registration. Students spend a minimum of 5 hours per week working with public agencies, community groups, or private organizations, during the semester.   [ 4 cr. ]

The Boston based Urban Symposium will be a thematic Spring symposium, required for students in the Urban Affairs and City Planning programs. The class meetings will weave together the interdisciplinary nature of the urban planning and city planning professions. While the symposium topics will change each spring, professionals and industry leaders will be invited to lecture on their experiences, contemporary challenges to the professions, and major problems confronting the public and private sectors. Recognizing the unique and diverse characteristics of the Boston urban environment, the symposium themes will be drawn from topical issues that involve the greater Boston metropolitan area. The course features a combination of guest speakers and academic case studies that emphasize the interdisciplinary nature of urban planning.   [ 4 cr. ]