MIT Reports to the President 1995-96


Although the field of urban and regional planning has changed significantly over the last seventy-five years, at is core it still draws inspiration from a normative vision of the "good society." In the Department of Urban Studies and Planning, this vision is nurtured by a commitment to a distinct notion of social progress which frames the teaching and research of the faculty and the mindset of the graduates.

The key elements of our commitment to this social progress involve:

This notion of social progress guides not only the scholarly deliberations on industrialized countries, but also provides a shared moral sensibility for the study of industrializing countries whose destinies are believed to be interlinked in a world deeply connected by the flow of capital, goods and services, population and ideas.

This moral vision is translated into professional education in a distinctly unique way. There is strong emphasis on theorizing from practice. This theorizing draws on different institutional actors and institutional settings, and involves the study of programs delivered by the public, private, and non-profit sectors at various levels--local, regional and global. And, learning from these programs is aided by analytical techniques strongly influenced by continuous innovation in information technology.

And finally, learning from these efforts is aided by analytical techniques strongly influenced by continuous innovation in information technology. Collectively, this philosophy facilitates a learning environment which nurtures the normative vision of social progress unique to the department and informs the type of courses we offer and the research we conduct.


The department received high marks from both our Visiting Committee's fall review and a national accreditation visit in the spring. Both committees reconfirmed the 1991 accreditation report conclusion that, "The Department of Urban Studies and Planning at MIT is clearly one of the premier planning programs in the world." The 1996 accreditation committee found that our program had improved even more since the earlier visit, particularly in the areas of hiring women faculty, connections to professional practice, and faculty books and other publications. Our student services were declared the envy of other planning schools.


The intellectual life of the department is organized around five program groups, which reflect five major areas of current planning practice. Regular seminar series sponsored by each of the groups bring faculty, students and outside scholars and practitioners together to debate cutting edge topics. In addition, each group engages faculty and students in scholarship and fieldwork. Some highlights of the past year include:

Faculty and students of the Design and Development group completed a plan for metropolitan Bangkok, and a group of students traveled to India over Independent Activities Period (IAP) to study low-income housing with the Aga Khan Foundation. The group also awarded its first Urban Design Certificates to four graduating Master's students.

The Environmental Policy group continues to expand its work on environmental management and environmental dispute resolution worldwide. EPG faculty were involved in efforts to guide privatization of water management facilities in newly independent states and Latin America, adoption of environmental impact assessment procedures in African, Asia, and Latin America, and reform of the global environmental treaty-making apparatus of the United Nations.

In addition to its continued emphasis on housing and community development, the Housing, Community and Economic Development group, with the generous support of Mr. Daniel Rose, launched the Daniel Rose/HCED Weekly Luncheon Series to bring in outstanding speakers in the area of employment and training.

Faculty from the International Development and Regional Planning group initiated its third project in Brazil. Six Ph.D. and three Master's students were trained to carry out field work this summer evaluating the efficacy of decentralized government programs in the state of Maranhao.

The Planning Support Systems group continued its work on understanding spatial structure and facilitating participation in planning the future of urban areas through the development and use of spatial analysis tools, multimedia software, and appropriate spatial data infrastructure. Project sponsors include the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Transportation, the National Association of Regional Councils, the Federal Geographic Data Committee, the National Capital Planning Commission, plus several MIT sources and local planning agencies.


The faculty deliberated a number of issues at its meetings and fall retreat, including: the cost of education for Master's in City Planning (MCP) students, faculty responsibility, fund raising, and the future of the Community Fellows program (see below).

This year, the size of our entering Master's class increased by 18%. Out of a total of 187 graduate students, 51% were women, 10% were students of color and 45% were international students. The department granted 66 MCP, 2 S.M and 11 Ph.D. degrees.

At the annual Commencement Breakfast, a number of students were presented with awards. Diana Markel received the American Institute of Certified Planners Outstanding Student Award. Daniel Serda won the Flora Crockett Stephenson writing prize. Andrew Crabtree was awarded the sixth annual Wallace, Floyd Award for Urban Design. New awards given this year included the Departmental Service award which went to Aleem Walji. Scott Schiamberg won the award for Outstanding Contribution to the Intellectual Life of the Department; Honorable Mentions went to Clare Epstein and Elizabeth Schave for organizing a lecture series.

A number of Institute-wide awards went to our students as well. Janet Martinez won the Ida M. Green Fellowship, and Carroll Wilson Awards went to Amanda Bickel and Judith Morrison. Sumila Gulyani won the Hugh Hampton Young Memorial Fellowship and John Matthew Carpenter received the first Kristin E. Finnegan Prize. Scott Schiamberg won the Council for the Arts, Dean's Gallery Award for his wheatfield exhibit in Lobby 7. Ph.D. students Rosemary Sandford and Anuradha Joshi received Center for International Studies International Energy and Environmental Policy Research Grants, and Mona Mourshed won the Siegal Prize.

Other award recipients were: Clare Epstein, who won an Eisenhower Fellowship and Catherine Preston, a finalist for the Presidential Management Internship Program. Ph.D. student Adil Najam received the Association for Research on Non-profit Organizations Emerging Scholar Award, as well as the Kann Rasmussen Initiative in Environmental Leadership Fellowship, a Predissertation Fellowship of the Academic Council of the United Nations System, and was appointed a J.D. Rockefeller, 3rd Fellow at the Program on Non-Profit Organizations.

First-year doctoral student Ayo Okada's research paper "What Explains Infant Mortality Reduction in Pre-war and Wartime Japan: Economic Growth, Female Education, or Political Commitment?" was awarded second prize in the International Cooperation Scholarship Award competition, sponsored by the Association for Promotion of International Cooperation and Nippon Keizai Shinbun (Japan Economic Newspaper). Lynn Pikholz won the Edward McClure Award for Best Paper from the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning. Elizabeth Stock's Master's thesis, "The Problems Facing Labor-based Road Programs and What to do About Them: Evidence from Ghana," was published by the World Bank. She also received the Center for Science, Technology and Society Best Thesis Award and a prestigious White House Fellowship.


Under the leadership of Adjunct Professor Paul Levy (SB, MCP `74), we had unprecedented participation by alumni/ae in departmental activities and fundraising. More alumni/ae pledged more money during the fall telethon than ever before. Panels of alumni/ae gave career advice to students. Alumni/ae attending the national American Planning Association conference gathered to discuss the future of the department and the profession. Our new alumni/ae journal,, keeps alumni/ae and the department in touch with each other. Alumni/ae were also active beyond the Department. Joan Martin Roth (Ph.D. '81) and Elizabeth Seifel (MCP '79) received the Harold E. Lobdell '17 Distinguished Service Award for alumni/ae activities.

The sixth annual Professional Development Institute (PDI), held during IAP, offered professionals and MIT students alike the opportunity to take short courses to sharpen professional skills like public speaking or learn about the latest cutting edge planning issues like technology and economic development. Participation this year increased more than 20%; four courses were offered for credit.


While the main focus of the department is on its graduate programs, the department responded to the call by the President by offering six Freshman Advising Seminars. Instead of emphasizing majors, we are reorganizing our undergraduate courses to offer six to eight magnet courses each semester.

The Teacher Training and Education Program saw an increase in its enrollment to 32 students.

Senior Anthony Ives made news when he organized twenty-five of his fellow students to spend their Spring Break in Washington, D.C. teaching inner-city students through the Teach for America Program. Ives and classmate Dhaya Lakshminarayanan also won the William L. Stewart, Jr. Award.


The department welcomed two new faculty members this year. Omar Razzaz, a Jordanian-American, joined the faculty as an Assistant Professor of Urban Planning. James Morrison is a half-time lecturer in writing and argumentation. Professor Lawrence Susskind was appointed Ford Professor of Urban and Environmental Planning. Professor Judith Tendler won the Irwin Sizer Award for the Most Significant Improvement in MIT Education, not only for the high quality of her classes but for integration of fieldwork into her teaching.

Four faculty retired at the end of this academic year: Professor Ralph Gakenheimer in the area of transportation and infrastructure in developing countries; Gary Hack in urban design; Gary Marx in urban sociology; and Adjunct Professor and Director of the Community Fellows Program, Melvin King, a specialist in urban issues and youth development. Searches for replacements for Professors Gakenheimer, Hack and King will take place next year.


A twelve-week faculty colloquium, funded by a grant from the Kellogg Foundation, explored topics related to Advanced Information Technology, Low-Income Communities and the City. A book is in progress which will include papers commissioned and dialogs generated by the colloquium. A graduate level course was taught simultaneously and a web site generated additional interaction.

The Institute-wide State of the Union Lecture Series focused on the forces that shape our society and our cities and featured such distinguished speakers as Nicholas Lemann, National Correspondent for the "Atlantic Monthly" and author of The Promised Land; Tom Edsall, Senior Political Reporter from the Washington Post and co-author of Chain Reaction ; Robert Hartman of the Congressional Budget Office; Lawrence Bobo, Professor of Sociology, UCLA; and, Nathan Glazer, Professor Emeritus of Education, Harvard University.

A Planners' Forum Speakers Series, co-sponsored by the department and the Massachusetts chapter of the American Planning Association, drew large crowds of alumni/ae and other professionals to hear Linda M. Harr of the Boston Redevelopment Authority/Economic Development Industrial Corporation speak about "The New Boston Master Plan: Linking Districts and Enhancing the Public Realm." While a last-minute scheduling conflict prevented Trudy Coxe, Secretary of the State Executive Office of Environmental Affairs from speaking, her deputy delivered her remarks on "Streamlining Environmental Regulations: Ensuring Quality, Efficiency, and Public Participation." In the spring, author James Howard Kunstler sparked lively debate with his talk: "Can America Survive Suburbia?"

Our non-degree programs also completed successful years. The Special Program for Urban and Regional Studies (SPURS) hosted 16 Fellows from around the world, including participation for the first time by one Fellow from Uzbekistan. This year's participants included thirteen men and three women. Fellows worked on projects ranging from urban transportation and quality management in Manila to nuclear power and energy problems in Chernobyl. Fellows were funded by the Muskie Fellowship Program, Institute of International Education, Council for International Exchange of Scholars, Inter-American Foundation and governments of their home countries.

The domestic counterpart, the Community Fellows Program, brought 12 mid-career community activists from communities of color in the US to build skills to develop youth-oriented programs for their home communities. Fellows were supported by the Ford and Kellogg foundations and their projects ranged from using the Internet to link all grassroots neighborhood-based organizations focusing on African-American youth in the US to developing pathways to careers for youth in the health care field. Fellows participated in a new course, "Advanced Technology and Low-Income Cities" as the program develops a new focus on this theme. Nearly three hundred people turned out over a weekend in May for a retirement symposium honoring Director Melvin King.


Visiting Committee Chair Charles H. Spaulding recently announced that he will fund a Career Development Professorship in the department. With his assistance, we are also seeking additional funds from private donors. Faculty raised over $1.5 million in grants and contracts for the following research projects: Professor Bernard Frieden, $682,000 for a three-year project funded by the US Department of Commerce for "Reuse of Military Bases"; Professor Karen Polenske, $170,000 from the Joyce Foundation for "Industrial Restructuring Infrastructure in the Midwest"; Professor Jeanne Bamberger, $357,000 for a three-year project sponsored by the National Science Foundation for "Collaboration for Excellence in Science"; Christie Baxter, $220,000 from the Ford Foundation for "Program-Related Investment"; Joseph Ferreira, Jr., $38,800 from the US Department of the Interior for "NSDI Implementation" (development and testing of client/server strategies for browsing geospatial data repositories); Michael Shiffer, $50,000 from the National Association of Regional Councils for "Computer-Aided Technologies and Tools."

Bish Sanyal

MIT Reports to the President 1995-96