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 in public policy which cut across policy sectors and political/geographic jurisdictions. Topics include:

1) Representing policy problems, including how situations become defined as public problems and different modes of portraying them (narratives, numbers, causal stories, photos, maps, and classification schemes).

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.

Revitalizing Urban Main Streets

Workshop explores the integration of economic development and physical planning interventions to revitalize urban commercial districts. Covers: an overview of the causes of urban business district decline, revitalization challenges, and the strategies to address them; the planning tools used to understand and assess urban Main Streets from both physical design and economic development perspectives; and the policies, interventions, and investments used to foster urban commercial revitalization.

Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative's (DSNI) Design and Planning Workshop

Provides students with an opportunity to do team projects in the Dudley neighborhood as part of a ongoing commitment of DUSP to work with the DSNI on projects ranging from the building design, housing, energy, food systems, education, economic cooperatives, community arts and citizen engagement.

Advanced Geographic Information Systems Project

Learning and utilizing advanced geographic information system techniques in studio/lab setting with real-world client problem and complex digital spatial data infrastructure. Projects typically use the client and infrastructure setting for 11.521. Credit cannot also be received for 11.521 in the same semester. Second half of term. Prerequisites: 11.523 or permission of instructor

Fundamentals of Spatial Database Management

The fundamentals of database management systems as applied to spatial analysis. Includes extensive hands-on exercises using real-world planning data. Introduces database management concepts, SQL (Structured Query Language), and enterprise-class database software. Same content as first half of 11.521. First half of term. Prerequisites: 11.204 or permission of instructor