Urban Affairs Undergraduate 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.

This course takes an interdisciplinary approach to urban affairs and urban problems, including an overview of prominent theories about the nature and causes of urban problems. We will examine the metropolitan area as a complex system with interdependent institutions and problems and consider present as well as future urban policy options in areas such as housing, transportation, crime, education, environment and economic development.   [ 4 cr. ]

An opportunity to explore general issues of urban affairs and planning in seminar. Theme changes, but each seminar focuses on Boston. Prominent scholars and professionals active in city and regional issues are invited to participate.   [ 4 cr. ]

Required of undergraduate urban affairs majors. Students complete a senior project in their field of interest. Individual faculty supervision arranged by the department; project topic and approach arranged between student and advisor.  [ 4 cr. ]

Surveys the factors affecting supply and price of urban housing. Examines federal, state, and municipal programs, as well as future policy options, from the standpoint of housing quality and community development goals. Analysis of selected international comparative experience.   [ 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. ]

Section Type Instructor Location Days Times
C1 IND Delaney MCS B25 W 6:00 pm – 8:45 pm

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. ]

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

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. ]

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.

Fall 2016-- Special Topic: "Affordable Housing Financing" A nuts and bolts course on financing affordable housing developments in the United States. After a review of historical and current public and private financing mechanisms, the class will review various case studies and project summaries of actual developments identifying key development and finance challenges. The course includes at least one site visit to a local affordable housing development in the Boston area. Coursework includes the development of a comprehensive affordable housing development case study by each member of the class.

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. ]

Spring 2017
Section Type Instructor Location Days Times
A1 IND O'Connell MET B02B M 6:00 pm – 8:45 pm
B1 IND Karki MET B02B T 6:00 pm – 8:45 pm
Sum1 2017
Section Type Instructor Location Days Times
SA1 IND Johnson CAS TR 6:00 pm – 9:30 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. ]

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. ]

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. ]

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. ]

Section Type Instructor Location Days Times
C1 IND Kyei-Aboagye CAS B06A W 6:00 pm – 8:45 pm