Urban Affairs

  • MET UA 301: Introduction to Urban Affairs
    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.
  • MET UA 503: Housing and Community Development
    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.
  • MET UA 508: Real Estate Development
    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.
  • MET UA 509: Public Finance and Urban Infrastructure
    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.
  • MET UA 510: Selected Topics in Urban Affairs
    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. The Fall 2020 offerings are listed below.

    UA510 A1 (O'Connell & Koehler, Thursday)- "Globalization: Pandemics & Planning": This course explores the evolving roles of planning in global cities, with an emphasis on pandemics and other disasters as watershed experiences. Using Boston as a principal example, students will learn about the impacts of globalization, and its incumbent health risks, through historical and contemporary case studies to understand cultural, technological, and socioeconomic development patterns. Besides public health measures, the course will cover economic resilience, international trade and supply chains, transportation, income inequality, the service economy, and the increasing importance of telecommunications and distance working.

    UA510 A2 (Sungu- Eryilmaz, Monday)- "Cities & Analytics: Making Sense of Data": Several cities in the U.S. and abroad collect increasing amount of data to support decision-making and transform into sustainable and resilient places to live, work, and play. Analytics is the core of any of these efforts. This project-based course will be divided into two parts. In the first part, we will explore the policy and planning aspects of these efforts. Who are the stakeholders? What kind of existing or emerging urban problems are addressed with these efforts? What are the intended and unintended potential consequences? In the second part, we will work with existing open datasets and selected basic analytical techniques to understand urban issues.

    Spring 2021: UA510 A1 (Hassol, Thursday)- "New Trends in Transportation": Transportation is changing faster than ever before. New vehicle technologies, including electric vehicles and automated vehicles, have the potential to transform longstanding paradigms of vehicle ownership and use. New transportation services such as ride- hailing, bikeshare, and electric scooters, enabled by information and communication technologies, offer new travel choices and also new business models. This course will apply principles of micro-economics (e.g., marginal utility, price elasticity, demand functions) along with information on macro-level factors such as changing demographics, to develop a framework for understanding transportation trends. We will use the framework to explore likely trends in electric vehicles, automated vehicles, "micro-mobility" modes, and mobility-as-a-service, and their impacts on travel behavior. In addition, we will explore the likely future of traditional public transportation within the emerging transportation ecosystem. Guest speakers from private industry and government will share their perspectives on emerging transportation business models, public policy challenges, and analytical techniques. Assignments will emphasize employing the principles learned in class to assess real-world transportation questions.

    UA510 A2 (Kwon, Wednesday)- "Equity and Social Justice": This course introduces conceptual and applied approaches to community activism to promote (or resist) social, political, and economic change in cities across the US. This course situates various forms of local community activism within larger discussions about inequality, intersectionality, and unequal geographies of opportunity. Students will explore past and present examples of community mobilization with an emphasis on the role of community-based organizations. The course will focus on some of the following themes: racial inequality, immigrant rights, health inequality, environmental justice, and housing access. Guest speakers will share their experiences and the strategies they used for advocacy and/or organizing campaigns covered in class. In this course, students are expected to share, interrogate, and reinterpret their own experiences and perspectives based on course readings, conversations, and assignments.
  • MET UA 511: Introduction to Urban Informatics
    Data is everyone's responsibility now. City planners and urban professionals no need to have the words "data" or "analyst" in their job title to be immersed in data. They are expected to use them regularly as the trend towards evidence-based decision making continues. Government agencies, foundations, nonprofits, and planning firms all recognize the importance of leveraging data to create effective policy decisions and urban plans. However, planners and urban professionals grapple with how to analyze large and complex datasets. In this class, students will learn about the applied dimensions of the emerging field of urban informatics which is used to understand cities and to inform urban planning practice and policymaking.
  • MET UA 515: History, Theory and Planning Practice
    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.
  • MET UA 527: Feeding the City: Urban Food
    This course 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 obesogenic neighborhoods, food deserts, gentrification and foodie culture, public school food and 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.
  • MET UA 580: Boston Experience: The Role of Architecture in Creating the Sense of Place
    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).
  • MET UA 610: Urban Environmental Issues
    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.
  • MET UA 613: Urban Design and Development
    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.
  • MET UA 617: Actionable Sustainability
    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.
  • MET UA 619: Urban Transportation Policy and Planning
    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.
  • MET UA 627: Smart Green Cities
    Smart Green Cities examines the three elements of "sustainability" and their application to guide decisions about development, investment, and the role of government, particularly at the city level. Through comparative study of a range of sustainable practices in important subfields of planning, such as transportation, land use, and energy, students will learn about the crucial role cities play in addressing equity and other social concerns, environmental challenges, and global climate change, the constraints and opportunities cities face, and how to effectively address them. Recognizing their increasing importance, the course will focus on the use of data and technology as tools to advance more sustainable land development, travel, energy, natural resources, and other decisions. Finally, particular attention will be given to the practical application of land use planning techniques. The course includes lectures, discussions, case studies, and student presentations.
  • MET UA 654: GIS and Spatial Analysis
    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.
  • MET UA 664: Planning and the Development Process
    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.
  • MET UA 701: Urban Problems and Policy Responses
    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.
  • MET UA 703: Urban Research Methods
    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.
  • MET UA 704: Urban Economics
    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.
  • MET UA 715: Planning and Land Use Law
    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.