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DUSP Alumni Publications: Mapping a better world

Whether recent or venerable, DUSP Alumni continue to build on the culture of innovation and interdisciplinary knowledge creation – and the democratic dissemination of that knowledge to address the world’s most pressing issues — imbued in their education at MIT and DUSP. As an example of this legacy of commitment to applying advanced analysis and design to understand and solve pressing problems, we are pleased to present a selection of recent publications from DUSP alumni.

Cities That Think Like Planets: Complexity, resilience, and innovation in hybrid ecosystems (University of Washington Press)

Marina Alberti (PHD ’92)

As anthropogenic factors for environmental change continues to accelerate on an urbanizing planet, the field of urban ecology provides a means of contextualizing humans and natural systems. Alberti advances strategies for planning for a future through the lens of hybrid ecosystems, derived from bridging urban planning and ecology. 

Neighborhood as Refuge: Community reconstruction, place remaking, and environmental justice in the city (MIT Press)

Isabelle Anguelovski (PHD ’12) 

Anguelovski asks, what if we moved beyond viewing environmental justice as a means of redressing disproportionate exposure to pollution and contamination and re-theorize using the broader view of wide-ranging comprehensive efforts at local environmental revitalization. Through activism and community engagement, Anguelovski argues, environmental justice efforts can provide the space and networks to impact health and strengthen resistance to negative externalities such as discrimination and gentrification. 

Low Carbon Energy Transitions: Turning points in national policy and innovation (Oxford Press)

Kathleen Araújo (PHD ’13)

 Araújo explores some of the less understood aspects of change in national energy sourcing utilizing four case histories of energy transitions since the global oil crisis of 1973 to weigh in on questions about the role of government and innovation in meeting evolving energy priorities. Highlighting the surprising speed and level of transformation that can occur in 15 years or less, Araújo challenges conventional thinking about timescales and complexity while highlighting how least-cost metrics in decision-making are important, but can miss larger gains in societal development and industrial leadership. For those interested in understanding how energy transitions can occur, this book provides some answers. 

The Politics of Fresh Water: Access, conflict and identity (Routledge) 

Catherine Ashcraft (PHD ’11)

Water scarcity always involves power relations and political decisions interacting with natural limitations. In Ashcraft’s edited volume, the politics of the freshwater scarcity are analyzed through the specific lenses of how access to water is determined in different regions and in different historical periods; how conflict around access is constructed and managed; and how identity and efforts to control water systems, through development, technologies, and institutions, shape one another. The Politics of Fresh Wateroffers insights into processes that contribute to scarcity and responses that seek to mitigate fresh water insecurity.

The City of Tomorrow: Sensors, networks, hackers, and the future of urban life (Yale University Press) 

Matthew Claudel (MCP ’16) + Carlo Ratti

The evolution of cities has been filled with moments of radical change, arguing that we are at such a moment because of advances in technology, Ratti and Claudel outline the forces behind urban change and visions of the possibilities for future cities. 

Slum Health: From the cell to the street (University of California Press)

Jason Corburn (MCP ’96 and PHD ‘02)

Corburn examines and exposes how and why urban slums can be unhealthy and in so doing, reveals the disparity of challenges of hazards and health issues faced by various slum residents. By weighting professional and lay knowledge, Corburn suggests how slum dwellers, scientists, and social movements can come together to improve slum life by making it safer, more just, and healthier. 

Brilliant Beacons: A History of the American lighthouse (Liveright)

Eric Dolin (PHD ’95)  Set against the backdrop of the expansion of the United States, Dolin animates a poignant elegy for the heyday of the lighthouse, an American symbol of ingenuity, warning, and as a sign of hope for generations of mariners. Dolin illuminates how these coastal sentinels have endured, despite the rise of the modern world and more advanced technology. 

The Urban Struggle for Economic, Environmental and Social Justice: Deepening their roots (Routledge)

Malo Hutson (PHD ’06)

 Hutson discusses demographic shifts of blacks, Latinos, and other people of color out of certain strong-market cities and the growing fear of displacement among low-income urban residents. Aimed to empower policy makers and community activists, Hutson demonstrates how residents of once-neglected communities are and can deploy new strategies that build off of past struggles over urban renewal to resist displacement, protect their interests, and facilitate transition towards more sustainable and healthy communities.  

Waste Is Information: Infrastructure legibility and governance (MIT Press) 

Dietmar Offenhuber (PHD ’14)

Offenhuber examines the information contained in our waste, considering emerging practices and technologies for making data within waste systems accessible and legible. Offenhuber presents how the resulting datasets and visualizations can be harnessed to shape infrastructure, urban, and environmental governance.  

Joint Fact Finding in Urban Planning and Environmental Disputes (Routledge) 

Masahiro Matsuura (PHD ’06) + Todd Schenk (MCP ‘09 and PHD ’15)

With the consistent challenge to the credibility of experts and the information they present, the increasing trend of officials to utilize conflicting sets of facts for plans and decisions; how can decision makers and stakeholders engage with technical information to inform and enhance their collective decision-making process? Through the introduction and application of the theory of Joint Fact Finding, Matsuura and Schenk examine how groups looking to plan and make decisions in any number of contentious areas can parse apart imperfect and often contradictory information to make fair, efficient, wise and well-informed choices. 

The Political Economy of Rural-Urban Conflict: Predation, production, and peripheries (Oxford Press) 

Topher McDougal (MCP ’07 and PHD ’11)

Why is there such a large difference in the relationship between urban-based states and rural-based challengers in violent insurgencies? McDougal points to dramatic disparity in violent conflicts impact on trade networks defining the economic relationship between rural and urban areas. These networks, and their response to combat, help to explain often seen combat frontier delineation as a function of the social structure of the trade networks, that is to say, as hierarchical networks permitting elite-elite bargains that cohere a frontier. McDougal presents new arguments for the relationship between violence and the economy, predatory behavior and production, as well as urban and rural. 

Growing a Sustainable City? The Question of Urban Agriculture (University of Toronto Press)

Christina Rosan (PHD ’07)

Urban agriculture offers promising solutions to many different urban problems, such as blighted vacant lots, food insecurity, storm water runoff, and unemployment. These objectives connect to many cities’ broader goal of “sustainability,” but tensions among stakeholders have started to emerge in cities as urban agriculture is incorporated into the policymaking framework. Rosan offers a critical analysis of the development of urban agriculture policies and their role in making post-industrial cities more sustainable, examining the construction of urban agriculture as a symbol of urban economic revitalization, sustainability, and gentrification.  

Power at Ground Zero: Politics, money, and the remaking of lower manhattan (Oxford Press)

Lynne Sagalyn (PHD ’80)

Through meticulous attention to Sagalyn accounts for one of the greatest reconstruction projects in modern world history, Ground Zero of the 9/11 attacks. Sagalyn illuminates the fierce political competition at the local, state, regional, and federal level and traces the vast sums of money driving every aspect of the planning process in one of the definitive reconstruction projects of the post-Cold War era. 

Adapting Infrastructure to Climate Change: Advancing decision-making under conditions of uncertainty and complexity (Routledge)

Todd Schenk (MCP ’09 and PHD ’15)

As climate adaptation efforts move beyond broad planning to the management of infrastructure systems, complex and uncertain climate risks complicate and delay necessary project-level decisions. With the aid of three detailed case studies, Schenk offers a map for a route for more effective decision-making and increasing the robustness and support for project-level decisions. 

Citymakers: The Culture and craft of practical urbanism (The Monacelli Press)

Cassim Shepard (MCP ’07)

Shepard delves into how urbanism today is no longer the domain of just planners, politicians, and power brokers removed from the effects of their decisions, but an array of citizens working at the vanguard of increasingly diverse practices, from community gardeners to architects to housing advocates. 

The Routledge Companion to Planning in the Global South (Routledge)

Smita Srinivas (PHD ’04)

Srinivas examines the re-theorizing planning from a perspective of deep understanding of ‘place’ as well as committing planners to recognize and honor the diverse modes of practice inherent in specific locations. Through a four-pillar model of implementation across planning and the state; economy and economic actors; new drivers of urban change; landscapes of citizenship; and planning pedagogy, Srinivas explores the complexities of planning practice and the need for new theories of knowledge to rise to new challenges of the modern world. 

The Creation of Markets for Ecosystem Services in the United States: The challenge of trading places (Anthem Press) 

Tijs Van Maasakkers (PHD ’09)

Van Maasakkers provides a detailed, critical analysis of the advanced attempts to create ecosystem services markets in the United States, expatiating on why these markets fail to succeed, despite scholarly support, federal funding, and the concentrated efforts of concerned stakeholders. For those practicing in the fields of public policy, ecosystem services urban planning, Van Maasakkers demonstrates three problematic features of the current model of ecosystem service markets. 

Winning Together: The natural resource negotiation playbook (MIT Press) 

Bruno Verdini Trejo (PHD ’15)

Transboundary natural resource negotiations, are often characterized by entrenched mistrust, conflict, and stalemate, that can draw out negotiations for decades. Leveraging two landmark natural resource negotiations between the U.S. and Mexico, Verdini outlines a playbook to enable stakeholders —government, private sector, and nongovernmental actors — to overcome past slights, break through impasses, learn to trade across differences and create mutual gains in transboundary natural resource negotiations.

White Working Class: Overcoming cluelessness in America (Harvard Business Review Press)

Joan Williams (MCP ’80)

Williams provides a direct narrative outlining a detailed map of millions of people in the U.S. who have proven to be a potent political force. For those stunned by the rise of populist, nationalist movements, wondering why so many would seemingly vote against their own economic interests, or simply feeling like a stranger in their own country, Williams provides a convincing primer on how to connect with a crucial set of voters. 

We would also be remiss if we did not seize upon this opportunity to highlight the work of current DUSP students, in this case the work of doctoral candidate, Jonathan Sun.

Everyone’s a Aliebn When Ur a Aliebn Too: A Book (Harper Perennial) 

Jonny Sun

Sun utilizes a lonely illustrated alien to juxtapose ironically hopeful moments with melancholy to highlight the evolution of the culture of social media through the creation of social media.