Subjects

The Department offers many subjects for undergraduates and graduates alike. These are broken down into core, specialized and research subjects. Each year the Department offers 25 undergraduate and more than 90 graduate subjects of instruction from which each student designs, with faculty guidance, an individual program of study that matches their interests and experiences. 

The materials of many of the classes developed by DUSP faculty are provided free to the public through MIT's Open CourseWare site. In addition, DUSP is continuing to develop online offerings on multiple platforms, including: EdXMITxPro, and the MIT Case Study Initiative.

This page only lists DUSP special subjects and occasional subjects in other departments with DUSP connections. A full schedule of DUSP classes is available at the links below, full class descriptions are here 

Spring 2024 Schedule and Conflict Chart
Fall 2024 Schedule and Conflict Chart

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Semester
Level
Type
11.S188

Technology and Society: Explore Computational Models for Public Decision-Making

Formulates and explores urban applications of computer science skills. Connects optimization algorithms to real-world contexts and fun cases involving such topics as traffic congestion management, natural disaster preparedness, and the location of public services. Engages in the critical awareness of "who benefits, who is harmed, and who decides" when making social choices.  The exercises build on 6.100B psets and completion of 6.100B (or equivalent programming class) is recommended. 

The workshop contains 3 sessions, each will consist of a case study that presents real-world challenges and public policy debates, and a hands-on lab using Jupiter notebooks to examine the sensitivity of solutions to problem framing and choices of the objective function.

IAP
1-1-1
Undergraduate
Schedule
T 1/9, R 1/11, and R 1/18. Time: 10am-12pm
Location
9-255
Can Be Repeated for Credit
No
11.S189
11.S953

Democracy in India: Reading Seminar

Considers challenges to democratic governance in contemporary India. Practices critical reading, thinking and communication skills. Builds community with those concerned about democracy in India and elsewhere at a time of multiple challenges. 

Spring
2-0-10
Undergraduate
Schedule
R 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Location
9-255
Can Be Repeated for Credit
No
11.S195
11.S938

A Multi-Disciplinary Approach to Urban Transport Planning

This course will provide students with an opportunity to understand and explore urban transportation planning through a multi-disciplinary approach, using a critical reading of Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities as a catalyst for discussion.  We will use a variety of “Thought Exercises” emerging from Invisible Cities to make explicit connections to urban transport planning and policymaking.  We will also examine through a case study mid-century Boston’s efforts to stop decades-long decline and revitalize itself, and the implications of those efforts to our times. We will focus on two Boston case studies (the urban renewal of mid-20th century and the Central Artery/Tunnel Project or “Big Dig”) to illuminate real-life examples of topics central to the planning process.

Fall
2-0-7
Undergraduate
Schedule
W 9:00 - 11:00 AM
Location
9-450
Can Be Repeated for Credit
No
11.S195
11.452

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, land grabbing, and gentrification) with the study of policy and practical responses to displacement, assisted by selected case studies. First half covers explanations about the mechanisms and drivers of displacement, while the second half introduces and evaluates policy and legal responses developed by many actors. Analyzes the use of UN and national standards on displacement as well as the use of tools such as the Eviction Impact Assessment Tool.

Spring
3-0-9
Undergraduate
Schedule
W 3:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Location
9-217
Can Be Repeated for Credit
No
11.S196
11.S939

Applied Data Science for Cities

Urban analytics draws upon statistics, visualization, and computation to better understand and ultimately shape cities. This course emphasizes telling stories about cities and neighborhoods covering a set of fundamental concepts of descriptive approaches, quantitative and spatial analysis in R, and principles of reproducible data analysis. Students learn to communicate the results of visualization and analysis for use in decision-making and policy development and to critique those processes.

Fall
2-2-2
Undergraduate
Schedule
MW 10:00 - 11:30 AM
Location
9-217
Can Be Repeated for Credit
No
11.S938

Quantitative Reasoning and Statistical Methods for Planning I

Develops logical, empirically based arguments using statistical techniques and analytic methods. covers elementary statistics, probability, and other types of quantitative reasoning useful for description, estimation, comparison, and explanation. Emphasis on the use and limitations of analytical techniques in planning practice. Restricted to first-year MCP students. Students are required to attend one of the three scheduled recitation sections.

Spring
2-2-2
Graduate
Schedule
TR 11:00 - 12:30 PM, H3
T 3:30 - 4:30 PM (R1)
T 4:30 - 5:30 PM (R2)
W 3:00 - 4:00 PM (R3)
W 4:00 - 5:00 PM (R4)
R 10:00 AM - 11:00 AM (R5)
Location
4-163
4-163
4-163
4-163
4-163
Prerequisites
Restricted to first-year MCP students or Permission of instructor
Can Be Repeated for Credit
No
11.S938
11.S195

A Multi-Disciplinary Approach to Urban Transport Planning

This course will provide students with an opportunity to understand and explore urban transportation planning through a multi-disciplinary approach, using a critical reading of Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities as a catalyst for discussion.  We will use a variety of “Thought Exercises” emerging from Invisible Cities to make explicit connections to urban transport planning and policymaking.  We will also examine through a case study mid-century Boston’s efforts to stop decades-long decline and revitalize itself, and the implications of those efforts to our times. We will focus on two Boston case studies (the urban renewal of mid-20th century and the Central Artery/Tunnel Project or “Big Dig”) to illuminate real-life examples of topics central to the planning process.

Fall
2-0-7
Graduate
Schedule
W 9:00 - 11:00 AM
Location
9-450
Can Be Repeated for Credit
No
11.S939

The Beauty and Frustrations of Transportation

The city is shaped by movement--on foot and wheels, in cars and ships and planes--and forces us to reshape our relationship to it and each other based on how we interact, or fail to, via transport. The movement facilitated by transportation exhilarates us, frustrates us, and plunges us into the excitement and malaise of city life at the pace that absorbs or removes us from its dynamics. The physical experience of the city organized by transportation creates mental maps that influence our psychology of the city, as our imagination and emotions respond to how we are included or excluded, whether we are allowed to walk or pulled over for daring to drive, whether we have a bird's-eye view or experience the texture up close. This class aims to examine the kaleidoscope of city life, especially its inequalities and inequities, by looking at how we are moved--physically and emotionally--or turned off by transportation. It does so through a mix of intensive reading, field explorations, and writing and design projects (no previous experience necessary) that will delve into asking who has the right to the city and how can transportation be approached in a fresh way to ask basic questions about freedom and equity.

Spring
2-0-10
Graduate
Schedule
W 6:00 - 8:00 PM
Location
9-450A
Can Be Repeated for Credit
No
11.S939
11.S196

Applied Data Science for Cities

Urban analytics draws upon statistics, visualization, and computation to better understand and ultimately shape cities. This course emphasizes telling stories about cities and neighborhoods covering a set of fundamental concepts of descriptive approaches, quantitative and spatial analysis in R, and principles of reproducible data analysis. Students learn to communicate the results of visualization and analysis for use in decision-making and policy development and to critique those processes.

Fall
2-2-2
Graduate
Schedule
MW 10:00 - 11:30 AM
Location
9-217
Can Be Repeated for Credit
No
11.S940

Hacking the Archive: A Field Guide to Co-Designing Alternative Urban Futures

This course offers a cross-disciplinary introduction to the archive as a site of contestation, erasure and possibility for students, planning practitioners and local communities seeking innovative models for city justice and reconciliation. Combining academic theory with client-engaged practice, this course gives students a hands-on learning opportunity to tackle ground level issues with real stakeholders in real time. Co-taught by a textile artist-historian and archival educator, students will be presented with a set of woven documents highlighting the major themes of the course: collective agency, social activism and diverse histories of resistance and disruption. Students will learn how to analyze these woven documents in order to become more nuanced readers of a variety of cultural objects including landscapes, urban plans and social histories spanning Toronto, Boston and Rochester (New York). This course will ultimately provide students with a research and action framework intent on destabilizing colonial modes of data extraction by re-centering community-driven design and use.

Fall
3-2-7
Graduate
Schedule
R 2:00 - 5:00 PM
Location
9-217
Can Be Repeated for Credit
No
11.S940

The Resilient Cities and Towns Of Japan: Engaging community to plan for the future of Japanese shrinking towns in high disaster-risk areas

The practicum, “THE RESILIENT CITIES AND TOWNS OF JAPAN,” aims to examine the complex challenges of urban and rural shrinkage in Japan, including depopulation, aging populations, and disaster risks. Led by Professor of Urban Design and Public Policy Brent D. Ryan and in collaboration with Professor Takefumi Kurose, Professor Kenichi Yabuki, and Kyushu University, the practicum is open to MCP students, with priority given to MCP students who need practicum credit for graduation and to MCP students with relevant skill sets and interests. The practicum will engage with local communities at different scales in Kyushu to understand the impact of top-down measures from the government and grassroots measures being taken for communities. 

The practicum is client-based research and interacts with local communities and stakeholders. Students will engage with local communities and regional stakeholders involved in drafting planning policies for the Location Optimization Plan and mobility technology introductions at the sites. The course will have an interdisciplinary teaching team, organizing site visits, meetings with stakeholders, lectures, and workshops in several locations in Kyushu. Students will learn about built environment planning strategies, methods to map and visualize small towns, and normative frameworks to guide development trajectories. 

The project aims to provide insights into the effectiveness and issues of various policies and initiatives implemented by local governments in Japan to address the challenges faced by shrinking cities, promoting social and physical resilience. Students will produce comprehensive reports documenting their observation and analysis of shrinking cities in Japan, including planning proposals that provide guidance on how to promote social and physical resilience in built environments. Students will produce presentations and reports that share their findings with the wider academic community, facilitate educational exchanges between students and practitioners in Japan and other countries, and organize a presentation to academic partners and community members in a shrinking city of Japan. 

Overall, the practicum will enable students to gain a deeper understanding of the complex challenges faced by shrinking cities in Japan and the innovative solutions being developed to address them. Additionally, the project can provide guidance on best practices in urban planning and development, promoting social and physical resilience, and bridging the gaps between top-down and bottom-up approaches to urban planning and development.

Spring
: 3-0-9
Graduate
Schedule
T 5:00 - 8:00 PM
Location
9-415
Can Be Repeated for Credit
No
11.S941

Making Good on Baltimore as a Just City: Building Solutions For A Vacant Housing Crisis Spring 2023

Making Good on Baltimore as a Just City: Building Solutions For A Vacant Housing Crisis will be a field study and community development course.  The client for this practicum is Fight Blight Baltimore.  This practicum seeks to rethink the stakeholder engagement concept in vacant housing underutilized infrastructure in Baltimore using Citizen Engineers to explore the resident perspective in the city’s neighborhood stabilization initiatives. As an example of hyper-segregated urbanism, Baltimore also provides an opportunity to rethink how physical spaces in neighborhoods can be reimagined to be just.

Spring
2-0-9
Graduate
Schedule
T 5:30 - 8:00 PM
Location
9-451
Can Be Repeated for Credit
No
11.S941

Green Finance

Addressing climate change and the transition to a net zero economy will require large scale financing across multiple sectors and for a diverse set of projects. Deploying this scale of capital in a manner that also promotes greater economic and racial equity will require skilled practitioners who have the knowledge and experience to craft financing solutions at multiple scales: government policy; institutional design; program and project implementation; and advancing financial and development system change.

Fall
Graduate
Schedule
M 2:00 - 3:30 PM
W 2:00 - 4:00 PM
Location
10-401
Can Be Repeated for Credit
No
11.S942

Urban Design Studio Module 1

City Design Research Module 1 for Joint Urban Design Studio, weeks 1-7.

The joint urban design studio will be offered as 2 modules beginning in spring 2023. Module 1 is the city design research part (7 weeks + spring break trip); Module 2 is the continuation of the design studio (additional 7 weeks = 14 total weeks). The new modular system, especially module 1, is geared towards DUSP students who want to go through the design research and project programming phase of a joint urban design studio, at the city scale, but do not necessarily want to produce their own site design projects in the end. This will allow planning students to work within the real world capacity of the planner or urban designer through ‘informing’ the studio’s design project goals and parameters. Module 1 students will work in mixed collaborative groups with students enrolled for the full semester studio.

Module 1 (sign up only for 11.S942) City Design Research, is 12 credits (0-6-6) and is 7 weeks long including attendance on the class studio trip during spring break (location TBD, costs covered). Module 1 is created for those students who want to learn how to conduct research on a metropolitan scale to find and identify future design projects to bring to the attention of stakeholders. This module will focus on ‘reading’ the metro landscape through analytical representation and mapping, landscape and infrastructural thinking, quantifying waste and redundancies in the urban fabric, discovering where new equity and programming can be infilled, and how to build advocacy and communication with potential stakeholder groups. The recommendations from students in Module 1 will form the basis for design studio projects that students will conduct in Module 2. While students who only sign up for Module 1 will technically be done with the course at the end of the 7-week module, they are expected to participate in one class review during Module 2 for the students who sign up for both modules (the whole joint urban design studio).

Module 2 is for students who wish to continue into the design studio portion of the class for 21 total credits (0-12-9) or the whole semester. Students cannot sign up for module 2 individually. You must either sign up for module 1, or module 1+2 (or the entire 21 credit studio).

Rafi Segal
Fall
Graduate
Schedule
TR 1:00 - 6:00 PM, weeks 1-7
Location
10-485
Can Be Repeated for Credit
No
11.S943

Bills and Billions: Policymaking and Planning in an New Era of Transformation in US Cities and States

This course will engage with the theory and practice of planning and public policy making, examining how these two fields intersect and are evolving in the context of current national and global priorities including challenges to the dominant paradigms of neoliberalism and globalization as well as the passage of historic legislation in the U.S. in the past year. Classic literature in these fields will be augmented with readings and discussions around themes relevant to the current context such as race, ethnicity and equity, sustainability, labor, industrial strategy and inclusive growth, innovation and equity and geographic diversity.  The course will bring in speakers across these topics in the form of policymakers and planners from cities and states across the US as well as in the federal government to learn how they are planning and implementing new policies, how this has changed if at all compared to the past, and how they are positioned to potentially access and invest the unprecedented new federal funding that will be coming to cities and states in the next 5-10 years. Students will write multiple policy memos on relevant topics throughout the course as well as be paired with partner cities/states to develop in-depth briefs for policymakers and community leaders on ‘ideas and issues to consider’ when applying for and implementing new federal programs and policies.  

Spring
3-0-9
Graduate
Schedule
M 2:00 - 5:00 PM
Location
9-255
Can Be Repeated for Credit
No
11.S950

Civil Rights Immersion

Run jointly between DUSP and the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship, this is an immersive, student-led academic trip across the American southeast, which explores the history of the civil rights movement, as well as its contemporary legacy. The purpose of this course is to bear witness to the civil rights movement by walking in the footsteps of those who put their lives on the line to fight for racial freedom and justice to deepen each student’s understanding of systemic inequality, improve their perspective on effective leadership and entrepreneurship, and develop their ability to craft solutions with a diversity equity and inclusion lenses. Course includes a trip over IAP. Application based.

IAP
3
Graduate
Schedule
Arranged
Location
Off Campus
Can Be Repeated for Credit
No
11.S951

Joint urban design workshop in China

This summer urban design workshop is part of a historic urban design collaboration and student exchange between MIT and Tsinghua University in Beijing, started in 1985. The 2024 workshop will focus on adaptive reuse of industrial heritage in Tangshan. 

Tangshan is located in the Hebei Province, about an hour east of Beijing on high-speed rail. With an urban population of 3.6 million residents (2020) and provincial population of 7.7, Tangshan has historically been China’s largest steel-production city. In the latter part of the 20th century, its economy has diversified to manufacturing machinery, motor-vehicles, petroleum products and cement. It also boasts significant textile and pottery manufacturing. 

Today, as the Chinese economy transitions from a heavy manufacturing base to a more service and knowledge-based economy, the future of cities like Tangshan face uncertainty and call for a different economic, social and natural habitat. This workshop will investigate ecological approaches to reusing industrial heritage sites, community-oriented and people-centric city design, modernization of historic panel housing districts and their neighborhood amenities, and possible pathways to shift urban mobility towards more sustainable modes. We invite a joint group of MIT and Tsinghua graduate students to examine Tangshan’s present transformational challenges and to propose urban designs, plans and policies to address the city’s and its communities’ development challenges. 

During our trip to China from June 15 to 28th, we will collaborate with Tsinghua students and faculty (Prof. Liu Jian) to understand the challenges faced by Tangshan, and spend time in both Beijing and Tangshan. Travel and accommodation will be fully funded by MIT. Participating students must be present in the workshop throughout the whole travel period and are expected to work and engage in site visits and tours during full 8-hour days for two work weeks, including one weekend in the middle of the trip.

Fall
6 units during travel workshop, optional 3 units later in the summer for report writing.
Graduate
Schedule
Arranged
Can Be Repeated for Credit
No
11.S953
11.S189

Democracy in India: Reading Seminar

Considers challenges to democratic governance in contemporary India. Practices critical reading, thinking and communication skills. Builds community with those concerned about democracy in India and elsewhere at a time of multiple challenges. 

Spring
2-0-10
Graduate
Schedule
R 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Location
9-255
Can Be Repeated for Credit
No
11.S964

Real Estate Private Equity

This course is for students interested in understanding private market real estate transactions. It will cover a range of topics, including the formation of real estate private equity funds, investor profiles, capital raising, partnership and fee structures, return allocation mechanisms, waterfall calculations, taxation, and approaches to solving complex situations encountered by owners of private equity assets and investing in private asset-backed companies. Students will investigate real estate private equity transactions with an emphasis on whether to pursue a specific transaction or not based on its investment risks and merits. They will be expected to form well-reasoned arguments in support of their qualitative and quantitative positions with respect to some interesting transaction situations to be evaluated in this course.

Manish Srivastava
Spring
3
Graduate
Schedule
H3 Fridays 2:00-4:30 pm (with some sessions extending to 5 pm),
2/9/24-3/23/24
Can Be Repeated for Credit
No
11.S969

Research and Industry Perspective on Data Science and Real Estate

Large data sets and novel computational tools have been bringing new perspectives on research on real estate. In this seminar we will explore how data science methods (including machine learning, computer vision) have been adopted by the real estate industry and by researchers. We will covered topics including how climate change affects real estate, the use of computer vision methods to assess people’s perception of neighborhoods and how it affects property values, and how data science approach can combine data sets from multiple sources and make sense them, informing real estate decisions. Students will have access to data platforms (such as StateBook) throughout the semester while they put together their own presentations for the last class.

Calandra Cruickshank
Spring
6
Graduate
Schedule
M 11:30 AM - 2:30 PM, H3
Location
1-132
Can Be Repeated for Credit
No
21H.S01

History of Capitalism

This discussion-based seminar offers an introduction to the history of capitalism and a broad overview of debates concerning its impacts on social life, with a particular focus on the modern American experience. The United States occupies a central position in today’s capitalist global system and has played a key role in shaping both the development of capitalism and critical responses to its advance. Drawing on primary historical documents and secondary literature from multiple disciplines, the course examines capitalism’s relationships to race, class, and gender, as well as the impacts of business and government, nature and environment, and finance and technology on economic transformation in the United States and beyond.

Please contact ?  Contact Profs. Caley Horan (cdhoran@mit.edu) and  Jason Jackson (jbrj@mit.edu) for details.

Caley Horan
Spring
Undergraduate
Schedule
W 2:00 - 5:00 PM
Location
E51-385
Can Be Repeated for Credit
No
21H.S03

Circular Recovery Strategies of Wartime Ukraine: History and Urban Planning for a Ukrainian City

The course introduces students to digital approaches for material flow determination and resilient urban recovery, with particular attention to on-site solutions and local capacity building. Through this study, we will develop solutions for remote damage assessment for cities that have suffered from Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine after February 2022. We will use digital tools (image segmentation), GIS analysis, and a historical overview of the local nature, ecology, culture, and architecture to develop ideas for reusing available materials from destroyed, damaged, and abandoned buildings, preserving heritage and architectural code. We will also examine the effects of Soviet and Russian colonial rule on Ukrainian city development, exploring decolonization strategies to address these historical impacts. This practical, hands-on course will use the Sviatohirsk municipality and the context of the broader Donetsk Region as a case study.

E. Wood
K. Lopatiuk
Spring
2-0-7
Graduate
Schedule
R 3:00 - 5:00 PM
Location
56-169
Can Be Repeated for Credit
No