MIT Reports to the President 1999–2000


Faculty in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning (DUSP) are national and international leaders in planning education and research, providing our students with a unique environment in which to explore cutting-edge city planning and urban development issues. At our Visiting Committee meeting in October, the Department again received glowing praise for our outstanding academic and research programs. However, the Committee identified lack of adequate financial aid for our graduate students as a critical problem for our Department. In addition, we find ourselves at a crossroads, as we anticipate the departure of three junior faculty members next year and two retirements in the near future. Next fall, we will embark on a strategic planning process to address these problems and opportunities. In the meantime, we have launched the Fund for Excellence in Public Service, a loan-forgiveness program for graduates working in the public interest.


The intellectual life of the Department is organized largely around the activities of the five Program groups, which reflect major areas of current planning practice: City Design and Development; Environmental Policy; Housing, Community and Economic Development; International Development and Regional Planning; and Planning Support Systems (Information Technology). Some highlights of the past year include:

Faculty and students of the City Design and Development Group (CDD) organized and participated in the "Northeast Mayor's Institute on City Design," which hosted eight mayors and an equal number of urban design experts for three days of discussions at MIT. Sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Institute provides mayors with a forum to present and receive feedback on pressing design issues in their cities. For the first time in the history of the Institute, mayors from two cities outside the U.S., from Catalunya, Spain participated, and the CDD group has been asked by the government of Catalunya to organize a similar Institute there.

Representing the School of Architecture and Planning, the CDD group hosted a session for alumni and alumnae and donors at the Institute's fall Campaign Launch, focusing on the theme of Planning for Cities of Tomorrow. The group also held two special department-wide seminars coordinated with public lecture series. In the fall, "Imagining the New Urban Region in Europe" brought specialists from eight cities across the continent to present innovative approaches to regional design. In the spring, "Housing the City" examined metropolitan-wide experiments in community development in the U.S. and Europe. Papers produced for the group's 1998 seminar on "Imaging The City" will be published in a book by the Center for Urban Policy Research at Rutgers University later in 2000.

The group also sponsored two urban design studios with international venues. The Singapore Studio proposed mixed-use design and development options for a major underutilized site in the center of the city. The Beijing Urban Design Studio, conducted with students and faculty of Tsinghua University, developed proposals for tourism, commercial, and housing development in an historic area near the Forbidden City. The studio is now part of an officially recognized Exchange Program in China that will see a visiting scholar coming to MIT for one semester in the fall. The program is funded by the Asian Cultural Council of New York.

Finally, faculty and students in the group concluded research on "Regional Design and Cultural Development" in collaboration with the Polytechnic University of Barcelona, Catalunya. This project, funded by the government of Catalunya, involved proposals for the reclamation of extensive historic industrial sites as well as agricultural resources in the fifty- mile long Llobregat River Corridor. It culminated in a regional design charrete involving agencies, institutions and property owners that took place in January 2000–the first ever in Catalunya.

The Environmental Policy Group (EPG) hosted a number of distinguished visitors, including Elisabeth Corell, one of the new Wallenberg Post-doctoral Fellows at MIT; Professor Roland Scholz, Chair of Environmental Sciences, Natural and Social Science Interface, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology; and, Dr. Atiq Rahman, Director of the Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies. The Environmental Technology and Public Policy Program, with support from the Dutch Government, began work on a multi-year effort to help design procedures for organizing national experiments with greener technologies of various kinds.

With new financial support from the Alliance for Global Sustainability, EPG also initiated a series of comparative studies focusing on regulatory strategies that might help to encourage sustainable development in various parts of the world. EPG faculty facilitated a campus-wide initiative exploring the scientific and political controversies surrounding the introduction of "genetically modified organisms" in various parts of the world. The group also launched an environmental justice initiative that includes both teaching and research activities. Several new courses have been added on this important topic. With a great deal of help from a number of graduate students, EPG has modified its curriculum–adding a series of methods modules and several courses dealing with brownfields redevelopment, environmental leadership, and industrial ecology.

The Housing, Community and Economic Development (HCED) group has continued to focus on how urban neighborhoods respond to the devolution of federal policy and the decreasing demand for low-skilled labor. These issues were explored in a weekly speaker series, which concentrated on workforce development and community organizing initiatives. Through Lecturer Karl Seidman's class, students completed their third consecutive year of economic development planning in Lawrence, Massachusetts. This spring, the class worked with DUSP alumni/ae at the Lawrence Planning and Neighborhood Development Corporation, a non-profit community development corporation, to prepare a Latino business development strategy. The strategy drew upon regional economic and local market analysis, industry research and an assessment of local institutional capacity to recommend a more comprehensive set of initiatives to expand the economic potential of the city's dynamic Latino business community. HCED is also working with Boston's Main Streets Program, a national model of neighborhood commercial revitalization, to document program outcomes and best practices. This relationship will include a new studio course on revitalizing urban business districts in spring 2001.

The faculty in the International Development and Regional Planning (IDRP) group are involved in six major multi-year research and teaching activities, each involving four to 12 graduate students and/or SPURS (Special Program in Urban and Regional Studies) Fellows. One group is finalizing the results of a large two-year study in nine countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America in which, through field studies and seminars, they analyzed successful cases of administrative decentralization. Since the spring of 1999, a second group of six Master in City Planning (MCP) students and two faculty have been assisting the World Bank on city-development strategies in Indonesia and the Philippines. They produced reports for the World Bank, and most of the students also wrote theses from the field material. In a third project, a faculty member is assisting the World Commission on Dams to develop a legal and policy framework for assessing the social and ecological impact of large dams. This involves working with staff at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to operationalize human rights in the development process and launching an international research project on globalization and local governance, with a preliminary focus on South Asia. A fourth group of faculty and students are working on issues of social investment, conducting various research projects in Northeast Brazil. This long-term research project combines extensive field research by Ph.D. and MCP students with seminars held during the academic year related to the research. A fifth group working in the People's Republic of China (China) is comprised of two cross-disciplinary teams of faculty and students from the IDRP group in DUSP, the Chemical Engineering Department, and the Technology, Policy, and Planning Program at MIT, who are working on energy conservation and pollution-reduction projects in the coke-making sector in Shanxi Province. The collaborating group of physicists, chemical engineers, operations researchers, and political economists are from institutes in Switzerland, Japan, China, and MIT, as part of the Alliance for Global Sustainability. The faculty, students, and technical assistants who work on this project were recently filmed by Chinese TV as part of a program stressing how U.S. academic institutions (in this case, MIT) function. The final sixth group of one Ph.D. and five MCP students are working with faculty members to study means of promoting good governance in the water and sanitation sector in South Asia, with particular emphasis on service improvements for the poor. The specific objectives of this project include: documentation of the current status of governance; identification of cases of public water and sanitation agencies in the South Asia region that have been able to make significant improvements in service delivery, accountability to consumers, reduced corruption, and increased transparency; exploration of the design of incentives and reform strategies ("internal drivers") undertaken in all cases to understand how these approaches were designed and implemented, and why they were or were not successful; evaluation of the larger socio-political context in which the reforms were undertaken, to understand the influence of "external drivers" on agencies’ ability to adopt reforms; and development of recommendations for promoting good governance in water and sanitation services in South Asia.

The Planning Support Systems (PSS) group has continued its research on appropriate spatial information infrastructure, modeling urban spatial structure, and informing public debate about urban futures. The group's work on interoperable Geographic Information Systems (GIS ) has grown with new support from the Open GIS Consortium and the Federal Geographic Data Committee, and work on transportation planning has been augmented through interdisciplinary collaboration with the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the Center for Transportation Studies. The MIT OrthoServer Tools that were developed for facilitating network access to high-resolution orthophotos have become more widely used and have influenced emerging international standards for web mapping. The Boston metro site ( averages more than 10,000 hits per day and is routinely used by design studios and class projects at MIT, Harvard, and other colleges and schools. Other active research areas include modeling urban "respiration" (how land-use planning can affect metropolitan air pollution patterns), welfare-to-work accessibility, land use and transportation interactions, telecommuting impacts on inner-city mobility, urban design assistance, community networking, environmental impact assessment, and representation aides for transportation analysis and collaborative planning. Each of these areas has involved class projects that led to thesis work.


Our graduate programs enrolled 189 students this year. Of the total, 55% were women, 8% were students of color, and 30% were international students. The Department granted 43 MCP, 2 SM, and 10 Ph.D. degrees.

Building on the success of the last couple of years, faculty continued to offer more for-credit offerings during the Professional Development Institute held in the Independent Activities Period (IAP). In addition to Introduction to Computers in Public Management II–required of all first-year Master’s students–eight additional for-credit courses were offered this year: Management Fundamentals for Leaders in Non-Profit Organizations; Challenging the Conventional Wisdom About North-South Conflict: A Shared Commitment to Long-Term Sustainability; Examining Development Standards and Requirements: The Pursuit of Alternatives; Community Organizing and the Pursuit of Democracy; Environmental Impact Assessment: Strategies and Methods; Inner City Revitalization: An Alternative Smart Growth Strategy; New and Emerging Technologies for Planners; and, Neighborhoods and Networks. These classes, combined with non-credit offerings, attracted both undergraduate and graduate students from across the Institute, alumni/ae and local professionals.

The Master’s in City Planning (MCP) Committee has been working on the development of a one-year mid-career MS program as part of our efforts to diversify departmental degree offerings and increase sources of financial aid for our traditional degree programs. The Committee also extended its efforts in student recruitment, holding open houses in New York, Los Angeles and Atlanta, and developed a recruitment plan for the Department. Finally, the program continued its efforts to support the MCP thesis exercise, developing activities to help students frame thesis topics and encouraging opportunities for applied thesis exercises, such as participating in an urban design studio.

The Ph.D. Committee began a review of the requirements for the five alternative "First Fields" in the Ph.D. general examination. As part of the review, it is collecting data from both current students and recent graduates on areas that require improvement either in course availability or course content. The review should be complete by the end of the fall semester. The Committee is also examining the awarding of teaching assistantships. In the past, students receiving a three-year departmental aid package were required to teach for three semesters. Traditionally, students took most of the three years to pass their general examinations and so scheduling their teaching assignments presented no problems. Increasingly, however, students are taking their general examinations shortly after their second year–in part a response to Ph.D. Committee policies–after which they leave MIT to do dissertation fieldwork. While this is a good result, the byproduct has been a shortage of funded teaching assistants. The program is now considering alternative ways to deal with this issue.

Our graduate students launched a new national refereed journal, Projections. The first issue explores the issue of "crisis cities," the topic of a recent graduate seminar and faculty colloquium.


During 1999—2000, the Undergraduate Committee continued to focus on developing the community of undergraduate majors and integrating them into department-wide activities. On their own initiative the undergraduate majors sponsored a welcome-back trip to Martha's Vineyard at the beginning of the new school year, and working with graduate students organized a joint forum and job fair to discuss graduate school and career options.

During the past year, the Committee turned its attention to the design and maintenance of the undergraduate curriculum. As a result, the undergraduate major has been redesigned into three tracks: Urban and Environmental Planning, Urban Studies, and Urban and Regional Public Policy. As a result of this restructuring the need for several new subjects was identified and we plan to offer at least four new undergraduate subjects in the 2000—2001 academic year.

Continuing the success of earlier study trips to Montreal and London, the Department continued its commitment to offering an annual study trip for undergraduate majors. During IAP 2000, Professor J. Mark Schuster led a study trip to Barcelona in which twelve of our majors participated. For the first time the trip was preceded by a fall seminar introducing the planning and development of Barcelona.

The interdisciplinary Minor in Public Policy, a program for which we share responsibility with our colleagues in the Department of Political Science, is now up and running with its first cohort of students. A revised version of 11.002J, "Fundamentals of Public Policy," was implemented in the fall of 1999, and the new subject, 11.003J, "Methods of Public Policy Analysis," was offered for the first time in the spring of 2000.

Our undergraduates continue to be involved in a wide variety of community-based activities, most notably Alternative Spring Break. The Department has made a commitment to assisting these outside activities of our students in whatever way possible.

In the fall of 1999, the Department welcomed to its faculty Dr. Eric Klopfer, the new director of the Teacher Education Program (TEP). Over the last six years a growing number of MIT undergraduates have completed certification and are now teaching in public middle or high schools across the country. TEP faculty expect to certify, on average, 10 students each year in the future. In numbers, this will put MIT near the top in math and science teacher education among local programs. More information about the TEP program can be found on the World Wide Web at


Our graduate and undergraduate students received many awards from national and international organizations, the Institute, and the Department.

National and international awards

Ph.D. students and alumni/ae garnered the following awards: Sumila Gulyani won the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning Barclay Jones Award for Best Dissertation of the Year. The Society for American City and Regional Planning History, 1997—99 John Reps Prize for Best Dissertation went to Thomas Campanella. The Lincoln Institute of Land Policy awarded Dissertation Fellowships to Daniel Serda and Ciro Biderman. Jennifer Johnson received a Department of Housing and Urban Development Doctoral Dissertation Research Grant. 1999 Fannie Mae Foundation Student Travel Awards went to Jennifer Johnson and Vinit Mukhija. Raquel Gomes, Nichola Lowe, and Rodrigo Serrano received Inter-American Foundation Doctoral Field Research Fellowships. Jason Corburn was awarded an Environmental Leadership Program Fellowship and a Harvard Law School, Program on Negotiation Dissertation Fellowship.

Master’s students also won many awards, including: La Tonya Green received the American Planning Association Charles Abrams Scholarship Award. An American Association of University Women International Fellowship went to Madhu Malini Raghunath. Ambika Prokop (2000) and Anyeley Dzegede (1999) were chosen for EDAW’s Annual Summer Student Program. The American Planning Association, Massachusetts Chapter gave its 1999 Outstanding Planning Award–Student Project Category–Honorable Mention to members of Lecturer Terry Szold’s class–Eryn Deeming, Kristen Harol, Adair Smith, and Margaret Super–for the "Burlington Town Center Vision Plan." Lou Baker won a 1999—2000 Hispanic Scholarship. Santiago Garcia-Moreno received a Fulbright-Garcia Robles Scholarship and a MacArthur-Ford-Hewlett Graduate Fellowship. Madeline Fraser, Brandon Mitchell, Tina Pihl, Tunua Thrash, George Samuels, and Manuel Martinez were selected as Department of Housing and Urban Development Fellows, and Lou Baker, Sophia Chong, LaTonya Green, Carolyn Lee, Katrina Simon were selected as Woodrow Wilson/Public Policy and International Affairs Fellows.

MIT Awards

Our students did very well in the MIT awards category as well: Jonna Anderson received the AMITA Award, while Yanni Tsipis won the Boit Manuscript Prize. The Laya W. Wiesner Award went to Cherry Liu and Jonna Anderson won the Ida M. Green Fellowship to a Senior Woman Student. Michael Fischer won the Ralph Adams Cram Award and Ali Shirvani-Mahdavi received a Martin Fellowship and Scholarship from the Martin Society of Graduate Fellows for Sustainability. A Carroll Wilson Award went to Katrina Simon and Farzana Mohamed received an Aga Khan Foundation International Scholarship/Fellowship. Meghan Horl received a Provost Fellowship for Women and Minority Students and a School of Architecture and Planning Harold Horowitz (1951) Student Research Fund Award went to Anthony Townsend. The Department of Architecture gave its Alpha Rho Chi Medal for Service, Leadership, and Promise of Professional Merit to Michelle Apigian and Eric Cahill received the Hugh Hampton Young Leadership Fellowship.

Departmental awards

At its annual Commencement Breakfast, the Department gave the American Institute of Certified Planners, Outstanding Student Award to Joshua Sevin. Laurie Goldman and Brent Ryan won the award for Outstanding Contribution to the Intellectual Life of the Department, while the Departmental Service Award went to LaTonya Green, Carolyn Lee and T. Luke Young. Prizes for Outstanding MCP Theses went to Richard Cho and Benjamin Schonberger. Jeffrey Rapson won the Wallace, Floyd Award for City Design and Dulcy Anderson received the Flora Crockett Stephenson Writing Prize.


The fall telethon is always a gratifying way to reconnect with our alumni/ae. This year, 19 faculty and student callers contacted 164 alumni/ae, securing 106 gifts and pledges. We also caught up with a number of alumni/ae at receptions we sponsored at the annual conferences of the American Planning Association and the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning. Local alumni/ae guest lectured in numerous classes, sponsored internships in their organizations and provided career advice to students at alumni/ae forums organized by each of the Program groups.

A number of alumni/ae braved a very snowy Career Day in February, meeting with students and recruiting for job openings in their organizations. Alumni/ae in New York and Los Angeles provided a valuable perspective to open houses for prospective students in those cities. Our semi-annual alumni/ae journal,, continues to provide an exchange of updates and ideas between the Department and our alumni/ae around the world. In the fall of 2000, we will be launching a major new initiative to further involve our alums in departmental activities and enhance the resources we offer them.


Several faculty members won honors, both from national organizations and at MIT: The Center for Public Resources gave its Outstanding Book Award in the Dispute Resolution Field to Professor Lawrence Susskind, Co-editor of The Consensus Building Handbook: A Comprehensive Guide to Reaching Agreement. Professor LawrenceVale won the EDRA/Places 1999 Place Research Award for "Three Public Neighborhoods: Assessing Public Housing Redevelopment." The Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning (ACSP) gave its Outstanding Planning Educator Award to Professor Emeritus Lisa Peattie and its Margarita McCoy Award for Outstanding Service to Women Faculty at ACSP Schools to Professor Karen R. Polenske. Assistant Professor Eran Ben-Joseph won the MIT Wade Award.

In faculty development, Associate Professor Timothy Riddiough was granted tenure. Terry Szold was promoted to Adjunct Associate Professor and Karl Seidman was promoted to Senior Lecturer. The Department hosted two Martin Luther King Visiting Professors: Harvey Gantt (joint with Architecture) taught an IAP course on inner-city revitalization and Karyn Lacy offered a course on suburban America. After extensive national searches, the Department is pleased to have selected Keith Hampton to join the faculty as an Assistant Professor of Technology, Community and Urban Sociology. We will also welcome a new senior woman faculty member, Professor Anne Whiston Spirn, who will have a joint appointment in DUSP and Architecture.


The non-degree Special Program for Urban and Regional Studies (SPURS) hosted twelve Fellows, five women and seven men, from Brazil, China, Czech Republic, India, Nigeria, Russian Federation, Sri Lanka, Taiwan and Venezuela. Their work embraced several fields, including environmental and regional planning, urban design, sustainable development, markets and issues of governance, and strategies of empowerment. In January, the Fellows organized a seminar, "Facing Challenges: People, Market and Cities." SPURS continued with its tradition of Tuesday Luncheon Seminars, where distinguished speakers from cross-disciplinary areas came to share their research and experiences. The last presentation of the series was by Jamil Mahuad, ex-President of Ecuador, who talked about the decision-making process of his administration in the face of severe economic crisis from October 1998 to January 2000.


The Center for Reflective Community Practice (CRCP) began its first full year of activities related to its new mission to develop mutually enriching linkages between the resources of communities and MIT. CRCP Fellows for this year came from four Massachusetts communities (Springfield, Roxbury, Chinatown and Central Square) and one national community organization (The Algebra Project). In addition, two individuals whose work has been tied to assisting others in community building joined CRCP as community scholars. The presence of these fellows and scholars resulted in CRCP conducting over a dozen forums and seminars in communities and at MIT. These ranged from an all-day event with residents of Springfield, Massachusetts and a forum on Culture, Community and Technology with Pete Seeger, to the implementation of a web-supported community dialogue with residents of Central Square, and a seminar on using internet radio to support community building.

The center has also been involved in working to level the playing field around information technology. One project involves connecting all of the residents in a Boston housing complex to the Internet and assisting them in creating their own information system. The other involves supporting the development of the over 41 new community technology centers in Roxbury, Massachusetts.

Finally CRCP has provided other linkages for DUSP and MIT. This year, CRCP brought renowned author Francis Moore-Lappe as a Visiting Scholar as she works on rewriting of her groundbreaking book, Diet for a Small Planet. Details of all CRCP activities are available at


Faculty raised close to $1 million in new funds for the following projects: Professor Karen Polenske was awarded $347,000 by the National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc. for a two-year project. The study aims to provide useful measures with which to assess the national economic effects of stimulating industry-specific (automobile sector) technological improvements in dimensional variation in automotive bodies and parts. The National Science Foundation awarded a $50,000 grant to Assistant Professor Eric Klopfer to investigate the educational outcomes of teachers building their own simulations in StartLogo for use by their students. Assistant Professor Jennifer Davis was funded with a $200,000 grant from the World Bank. The research evaluates the keys to good governance and institutional reforms in water and sanitation institutions in South Asia.

Professor Lawrence Susskind received a $108,400 research grant from the Directorate General of Environmental Protection, Government of the Netherlands. The project will focus on the practical problems associated with community-based experiments designed to test new environmental technologies and to help build theory that will explain how to build consensus and learn from such experiments. Professor Joseph Ferreira, Jr. received funding from Geographic Data Technology, Inc. (GDT) for $24,000, and $25,000 from the Open GIS Consortium, Inc. The projects will review Ortho Server tools within the GDT Computing Environment and participation in the Open GIS Web Mapping Testbed databases.

The American Architectural Foundation awarded $44,955 to Professor Mark Schuster for the Northeast Mayor's Design Institute described above. Mr. Thomas Piper received funding from the Gillette Company in the amount of $62,500 in continued support for the MIT Colloquia on the Future of Boston.

For the fifth funding cycle, the Department received $90,000 from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development to support minority and economically disadvantaged graduate students.

More information about the Department can be found on the World Wide Web at

Professor Bish Sanyal

MIT Reports to the President 1999–2000