Cities and the Urban Informal Economy: Rethinking Urban Development, Design and Planning

This course will introduce the students to four strands of research regarding the urban informal economy in developing nations. First, it will provide an overview of the literature on cites and urban informal economy dating back to 1950. This overview will help students to learn the various theoretical approaches to the understanding of the urban informal economy: What is it? How did it emerge and why is it growing? Particularly, how have urban designers, policy planners, and social activists tried to explain its emergence and persistence.    Second, the course will provide overview of various ways in which urban  planners have tried to intervene in this economy to enhance the quality of life of the households who survive because of this economy. Third, what kind of urban design principles and interventions are needed to support this economy so it can become a legitimate element of the urban landscape. And, finally, what kind of innovative organizations have emerged over the last 50 years at multiple scales, ranging from the local to the global,  to assist individuals as well as firms which constitute the urban informal economy. Why have some organizations succeeded while others withered away?