MIT Reports to the President 1996-97


The Department of Urban Studies and Planning (DUSP) continues to be the nation's leading school for professional education and scholarship on urban issues. Our focus this past year has been on maintaining this high level of academic excellence and positioning ourselves to remain on the cutting edge of scholarship and practice in the field. The Department of Urban Studies and Planning is considered by many to be ranked #1 among city/regional planning schools.


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: 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-led seminars and projects often cut across the different disciplines within the Department and provided some of the intellectual highlights of the year. A faculty colloquium in FY96 led to preparation this year of a new book, High Technology and Low-Income Communities: Prospects for the Positive Use of Advanced Information Technology, which is partially funded by the Kellogg Foundation and will be published by MIT Press in the fall. A joint weekly seminar series with the Lincoln Land Institute explored issues of Informal Land and Housing Markets. In the fall, first-year Master's students participated in three all-day seminars with panels of distinguished visiting faculty and professionals speaking on Stratification: Race, Class and Gender, Ethical Dilemmas in Planning Practice, and Critical Pragmatism and Planning Practice. In the spring, Ernesto J. Cortes, Jr., who will be joining the department in the fall as a Martin Luther King Visiting Professor, provided a lively warm-up for next year's classes by teaching a short course on community organizing.


Graduate program enrollment remained constant this year. Out of a total of 186 graduate students, 46% were women, 12% were students of color and 41% were international students. The Department granted 63 Master in City Planning (MCP), 1 SM and 5 Ph.D. degrees.


Our students received many Institute-wide awards. Both Carroll Wilson Awards went to DUSP students, Laura Fried and Heeten Kalan. Minakshi Mani received an Aga Khan Travel Grant. Ph.D. students who won awards through the Center for International Studies included International Energy and Environmental Policy Research Grants to Aniruddha Dasgupta, Granville Sewell and Anuradha Joshi, a Ford Development Grant to Nichola Lowe, and MacArthur Summer Research Fellowships to Octavio Damiani and Mona Mourshed. An International Motor Vehicle Program Research Grant was awarded to Sumila Gulyani. Adil Najam won the Goodwin Medal and was appointed to the MIT Society of Fellows for Sustainability. First Prize for the Harold and Arlene Schnitzer Prize in the Visual Arts went to Francisco Ortiz. Anthony Ives won the Karl Taylor Compton Prize and Michelle McDonough was elected Vice President of the Graduate School Council.

At the annual Commencement Breakfast, the Department presented a number of student awards. Amanda Bickel received the American Institute of Certified Planners Outstanding Student Award, as well as sharing the Flora Crockett Stephenson Writing Prize with Stephan Solzhenitsyn. The Outstanding Contribution to the Intellectual Life of the Department award went to Brian McLaughlin, with Honorable Mention to Chrystal Kornegay and Christian Willauer. Mark Norton won the Departmental Service Award; Susan Silberberg received Honorable Mention, as well as winning the Wallace, Floyd Award for City Design. A new award for Outstanding MCP Thesis was awarded to Debabrata Talukdar.

Outside of MIT, our students garnered local, national and international awards as well. Ximena Rueda won an Inter-American Foundation Fellowship. Adil Najam was awarded the Steein Rokkan Award for Young Scholars from the International Political Science Association. The Smithsonian Institution's Enid A. Haupt Fellowship in Horticulture went to Thomas Campanella. Genevieve Vachon received the Environmental Design Research Association Student Research Grant and Mona Mourshed won the Smithsonian Institution's Council of American Overseas Research Centers Fellowship. Paul Schimek got a US Department of Transportation Eisenhower Fellowship (1995-97) and received a Krambles Transit Scholarship. Alejandro Walters won a Social Sciences Research Council International Dissertation Research Fellowship and Monica Amorim received a Research Scholarship from the Northeast Development Bank in Brazil.

The American Planning Association awarded Fellowships to Susan Silberberg and Brian McLaughlin. The Massachusetts Chapter of the American Planning Association gave its Outstanding Planning/Student Project Award to Naomi Desta, Christina Gouveia, Tomoko Kodama, Makiko Takahashi (all MCP `96) for their East Acton (Massachusetts) Village Plan, completed for Lecturer Terry Szold's Community Growth and Land Use Planning class. Students of Senior Lecturer Dennis Frenchman took Honorable Mention for the American Institute of Certified Planners, Student Project Award for their New Bedford/Fairhaven Harbor (Massachusetts) Study (Matt Carpenter, Jose Lee Chibli, Raj Singh, Jim Vandermillen---all MCP `96). The Somerville Neighborhood Planning Committee gave its Distinguished Citizen Award to Kier Riemersma. Daniel Freire won the University of St. Gallen, Switzerland's 26th Management Symposium Essay Competition.


Building on the success of the last couple of years, faculty continued to shift toward offering 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, four additional for-credit courses were offered this year: Financing Infrastructure, Management Fundamentals for Leaders in Non-Profit Organizations, Neighborhoods and Networks in the Devolution Revolution, and Tagging: Public Graffiti or Private Art? These classes, combined with non-credit offerings, attracted over 300 students, alumni/ae and local professionals.


Our alumni/ae continued the trend of increasing generosity during the fall telethon. Thirteen callers contacted 170 alumni/ae, who had a pledge rate of 85% and a gift upgrade rate of 21%. Alumni/ae also gave generously of their time. In addition to guest appearances in classes and presentations at luncheon seminars, sponsoring student interns and participating in the annual "Chase-A-Planner" exercise, alumni/ae shared their wisdom at each of the Program groups' alumni/ae career panels, which received rave reviews by students. In addition, local alumni Joseph H. Brevard, III, MCP '71 and Edward Shoucair, MCP '84, hosted more than forty students at an open house at their planning firm. Many local alumni/ae joined us for a special dinner and lively discussion with Nobel Laureate Dr. Oscar Arias Sánchez (see below). Elisabeth Stock, MCP '95, was elected Young Graduate Member of the MIT Corporation.


This past year, the Department's Undergraduate Committee focused its attention on finding ways to increase the visibility of our undergraduate program within the MIT community, while simultaneously consolidating subject offerings. Our plan is to propose a new interdisciplinary Minor in Public Policy, to be targeted to those with majors in science and engineering. This initiative will require the cooperation of the Political Science and Economics departments, among others, and it is our hope that consideration of the proposal by various MIT committees will occur during the 1997-98 academic year. In the meantime, overall Course XI subject enrollments and subject ratings seem to be solid and increasing, indicative of growing interest among MIT undergraduates in these issues. DUSP faculty once again led six very popular Freshman Advising Seminars. It is also worth noting that the Institute's new Freshman Leadership Program, developed by Course XI Concentrator Pardis Sabeti `97, was a direct outgrowth of a term paper produced for a DUSP course.

The MIT Teacher Education Program (TEP) has just completed its third full year. Over this period, 54 students have enrolled in 11.124, Introduction to Teaching and Learning Mathematics and Science, the initial course toward completing Massachusetts Teacher Certification. The first student completed certification requirements through TEP in June 1995 and in the last two years, 15 more students have completed certification and are now teaching in public middle or high schools, mostly in the Boston area. When working with a full staff, we expect to certify, on average, 10 students each year in math and science. In numbers, this will put us near the top in these fields among local teacher education programs. More information about this program can be found on the World Wide Web at the following URL:


Several faculty were honored for their contributions to their respective fields. Professor Karen R. Polenske received the Walter Isard Distinguished Scholar Award by the North American Regional Science Association. The Massachusetts Chapter of the American Planning Association gave its Faye Seigfriedt Award to Lecturer Terry S. Szold for distinguished leadership and service in relation to contributions to the advancement of women in planning. Professor Joseph Ferreira, Jr. was elected president of the Urban and Regional Information Systems Association (URISA), the oldest professional organization in the US that is concerned with information systems in urban and regional planning. Professor Frank Levy's new book received extensive coverage by the national radio, television and print media, including an article in Newsweek in September. Levy's book, Teaching the New Basic Skills, co-authored with Harvard's Richard Murnane, takes a critical look at the skills taught to public school students versus those that are needed to do the jobs in today's economy. An October article in Chemical Week highlighted the "Chlorine Game," a simulation developed by a team led by Professor Lawrence E. Susskind, which uses role playing to teach international environmental diplomacy.

In faculty development, Associate Professor Lawrence J. Vale was granted tenure. Assistant Professor Qing Shen was appointed Mitsui Career Development Assistant Professor. The Department hired Jennifer Davis, Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering, from the University of North Carolina. Professor Davis will join the faculty as Assistant Professor of Infrastructure Planning in the fall of 1998. We are continuing the search for a new head for the Community Fellows Program, and have engaged the services of a national firm to assist in that search, as well as to identify a distinguished minority faculty member to join the Department as well.

In staff awards, Administrative Officer Rolf Engler's long years of service to the Department and MIT were honored with the receipt of the Gordon Y. Billard Award.


The Department was honored to host this year's Karl Taylor Compton Lecture series by Dr. Oscar Arias Sánchez, Nobel Peace Laureate and former President of Costa Rica. Dr. Arias delivered three lectures on critical topics of our time: "Demilitarization: A Major Factor for Development," "Latin America Facing New Challenges," and "How Much Povery Can Democracy Endure?"

The second year of the Planners' Forum, jointly sponsored by the Department and Massachusetts Chapter of the American Planning Association (APA), featured Peter Calthorpe, architect and author of The Next American Metropolis, who spoke on "Transit-Oriented Development: Making it Work" and Pat Clancy, Executive Director of the Community Builders, who spoke on "The Devolution Revolution: Affordable Housing and Its Future."

In November, The American Institute of Certified Planners, the Society for American City and Regional Planning History, and the Massachusetts Chapter of the APA presented the Department with a plaque honoring Frederick J. Adams as a "National Pioneer." Professor Adams was the founder of the Department and the first chair in 1933. The plaque is on display at the Department's Headquarters.


Our non-degree programs continued to enrich the life of the Department. The Special Program for Urban and Regional Studies (SPURS) hosted fourteen Fellows from Belgium, Brazil, Columbia, People's Republic of China, Poland, Sri Lanka, the Republic of Sakha in Russia, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Thailand, and Ukraine. The interests of the group were varied and diverse, ranging from environmental planning and urban design in Saudi Arabia to urban poverty and violence in Brazil to international finance and real estate development in China and transportation in Sri Lanka.


The domestic counterpart, the Community Fellows Program, brought 11 mid-career community activists from communities of color across the US to work on youth-oriented research projects supported principally through grants from the Ford and Kellogg Foundations. Individual research projects ranged from bringing advanced technology to a community college serving economically disadvantaged students in Puerto Rico to developing a volunteerism program for Native American youth in Wisconsin. A "Community Fellows Seminar Series" kicked off this year and brought scholars and activists to MIT to discuss social justice issues.


Faculty raised over $1.7 million in grants and contracts for the following research projects: Research Scientist Thomas Piper and Professor John de Monchaux, $900,000 from a consortium of sponsors for "The Boston Conference: Harbor Town Meeting" to stimulate an interactive dialog on the future of the Boston Harbor, Boston and New England; Professor Judith Tendler, $359,188 from the government of Brazil for a project to explore economic integration and regional development in Northeast Brazil; Professor Ferreira, $263,567 from Aerodyne Research for a project using Geographic Information Systems to analyze "Urban Metabolism and Environmental Physics"; Professors Bish Sanyal and Paul Smoke, $80,300 from the United Nations Development Programme for a study of decentralization in 11 countries; Professor Ferreira, $50,000 for extension of the National Capital Planning Commission contract to explore and demonstrate urban environment simulations that can help understand security and proximity issues in planning of federal facilities; Professor Karen R. Polenske, $28,112 from the National Science Foundation for a study on "Effects of Alternative Technologies on Energy and Pollution in China"; Senior Research Scientist/Lecturer Michael Shiffer, $24,876 from the U.S. Department of Transportation for development and optimization of networked multimedia representational aids to support transit-oriented environmental review activities; Professors Bish Sanyal and Omar Razzaz, $19,300 from the Lincoln Institute for Land Policy for a research seminar on informal land and housing markets.

As part of an on-going effort to develop more individual donors to the Department, friends and current donors to the School joined us for a kick-off dinner in the fall with an engaging talk by benefactor Daniel Rose and an intimate dinner in the spring with Dr. Oscar Arias.

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

Professor Bish Sanyal

MIT Reports to the President 1996-97