Analyzing Public Policy and Organizations

A critical aspect of public policy design and implementation is to performance evaluation.

Resilient Urban Communities

Focuses on community resilience, including disaster resilience, and climate change adaptation. Topics include concepts of resilience and adaptation, characterization of community assets, vulnerability of critical infrastructure services and community operations, potential systems interventions for community resilience, national, regional  and local policies on resilience and adaptation, and current community planning for resilience and adaptation. 

The City in Film

Over the past 150 years, the world has moved from one characterized by rural settlement patterns and provincial lifestyles to one dominated by urbanization, industrialization, immigration, and globalization. Interestingly, the history of this transformation overlaps nearly perfectly with the development of motion pictures, which have served as silent---and then talking---witnesses to our changing lifestyles, changing cities, and changing attitudes about the increasingly urban world we live in.

Doctoral Research Paper

Required subject for all first year PhD students. Students develop a first year research paper completed in consultation with the students' advisor.

The Politics of Economic Democracy

This course begins with readings on the subjects of politics and planning, that is, the people. The initial classes will discuss the lives and perspectives of blacks, working class whites, and immigrants as illuminated through fictional narratives. The aim is to ground democracy’s potential within its principal components—the people themselves. The course will examine the “democracy” side of “economic democracy,” looking at traditional democratic theories compared to the political theories and assumptions of current proponents of economic democracy (Occupy, labor advocates, etc.).

Theory & Practice of Public Policy

This course is organized around three broad topics that cut across policy sectors and political/geographic jurisdictions. 1) Representing policy problems, including how situations become defined as public problems and different modes of portraying problems (narratives, numbers, causal stories, photos, maps, and classification schemes). 2) Explaining broad patterns of continuity and change, with attention to theories that emphasize ideas, interests, institutions, historical processes, and social movements.

Planning Against Evictions and Displacement

Combines state of the art research on evictions and displacement globally, in the context of the global crisis of evictions and land grabbing, with the state of the art policy and practice on responses to displacement.

Law and Development

Examines the role of law in development and introduces economic and legal theories. Topics include formality/informality of property, contracts and "bargaining in the shadow" of the law, institutions for transparency and accountability, legitimation of law, sequencing of legal reform, and international economic law aspects. Studies the roles of property rights in economic development, the judiciary and the bureaucracy in development, and law in aid policy. Includes selected country case studies. Limited to 15.

Electricity, Economics, & the Environment

Examines the joint economic and environmental problems of electricity production, focusing on the U.S. electrical system and national and state policy. Topics include an overview of the grid and the unique problems of electricity supply, interactions with climate change and climate policy, contemporary debates about coal use, the potential and problems of renewable energy and efficiency programs, and the role of natural gas.

Urban Sustainability in Action

Considers the theory and practice of urban sustainability. Introduces concepts of environmental sustainability, systems dynamics, ecological footprints, and environmental indicators. Investigates cutting-edge practices of cities in the US and around the world. Drawing on those examples, students identify opportunities to make the Boston more sustainable and make a persuasive case for adopting their ideas.