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. ]

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. ]

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. ]

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 EPC 203 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 2017 -- Special Topic: "Sustainable Energy Planning" (Section A1, MON 6pm Instructor: Jermain) - Disruptive technology, climate change impacts, and fast-changing consumer preferences, combined with significant sustainable energy innovations (e.g., in solar, wind, biofuels, storage solutions, and granular EMS) are up-ending urban / regional energy planning and policy-making. Planners play a critical role in helping define and solve urban energy challenges. While the goal may be achieving reliable sustainable energy systems (SES), still, conventional urban energy resources (including hydro, natural gas, coal, and nuclear power) will remain an important part of the energy mix for the foreseeable future. This course examines end-to-end energy systems planning and policy challenges facing SES transformation. The focus is on the U.S., but comparative experiences from Europe and Asia will be included. The course teaches the fundamentals of urban / regional energy planning; and provides practical tools for facilitating economic, social, and environmental policy-making.

Fall 2017 -- Special Topic: "Inequality: Policy Implications for Communities" (Section B1, TUES 6pm Instructor: Weis) - Income and wealth inequality are greater today than anytime since the Depression of 1929. The course explores the history of inequality in the U.S. and around the world to better understand it's causes and possible solutions. To understand how inequality affects society at community scale, the class will conduct detailed studies of two communities in the Boston area which represent the extremes of inequality.

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.   [ 4 cr. ]

Section Type Instructor Location Days Times
A1 IND O'Connell PSY B53 M 6:00 pm – 8:45 pm
A2 IND Sungu-Eryilm SHA 210 M 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. ]

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. ]

The Boston Experience is a graduate and advanced undergraduate course designed in the seminar format. The course will provide an introduction to the study of architecture as an important foundation for students of urban affairs and city planning and as an important foundation for students in other disciplines such as civil engineering, historic preservation, and the applied social sciences (such as sociology). The course will also serve as a foundation of the basic concepts and a general overview of the field of architecture. This foundation will also provide a prerequisite for the two advanced studio planning courses currently offered at MET in the Department of Urban Affairs and City Planning (UA 613 and UA 510).  [ 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
B1 IND Kyei-Aboagye MCS B23 T 6:00 pm – 8:45 pm

This course is designed to present a comprehensive approach to urban environmental issues by integrating environmental planning and policy. It is intended for both students with and without planning background. This course provides a broader view and discussion of natural resources planning relating to issues affecting urban watershed management. This approach includes water policy, sustainability of water resources, freshwater planning (Lakes and Rivers), coastal waters, open space protection, stormwater management, clean water act, wetland protection, low impact development, and stakeholder involvement with a focus on the means and techniques available to local governments to plan and protect watersheds. Case studies will be used to demonstrate the potential to address full range of urban watershed issues, including water supply planning, water quality restoration and protection, open space planning, habitat protection and ecological conservation, and enhancement and regulatory activities.  [ 4 cr. ]