MIT Reports to the President 1998-99


Faculty in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning (DUSP) continue to be 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. The challenge that remains, however, is how to assist our students in paying for this valuable education, in a field where starting salaries are comparable to the average debt level of our graduates.

Recognizing this, two years ago the Department's Visiting Committee identified as one of its top priorities the urgent need to address the funding crisis of the Master in City Planning program and the need for general MIT fund assistance to create an endowment for this and other critical programs. Since then, we have been drafting an action plan to address these issues, which we discussed at a faculty retreat in May 1999. The plan identifies five priorities for fundraising: a loan forgiveness program for public service; new programming in the area of technology and the city; endowment for new directions for two non-degree programs (Special Program in Urban and Regional Planning and Center for Reflective Community Practice); support for international urban design studios; consolidation and upgrading departmental space; and, an international clearinghouse for teaching materials. These new initiatives will be presented to the Visiting Committee in October 1999.


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).

Faculty and students of the City Design and Development Group (CDD) organized and participated in two special department-wide seminars coordinated with public lecture series. In the Fall, "Imaging the City" reconsidered the legacy of Kevin Lynch and the emerging role of media in the design of cities. The series concluded with a revival of the Kevin Lynch Award, which was presented to urbanist Professor Alan Jacobs of the University of California/Berkeley at a special all-day event. In the spring, "Remaking Crisis Cities" brought to MIT representatives of transitional cities across the US to discuss successful revitalization and design strategies. The group also sponsored two urban design studios dealing with local Boston and international themes. The South Boston Studio proposed mixed-use design and development options for sites in the emerging Seaport District, applying lessons from the Boston Harbor Conference that involved CDD faculty in 1998. The Chandigarh Studio proposed urban design schemes for redeveloping the central area of Chandigarh, India, originally designed by LeCorbusier in the 1950s. Finally, faculty and students in the group launched research on "Regional Design and Cultural Development" in collaboration with the Polytechnic University of Barcelona, Catalunya. This project, funded by the government of Catalunya, is examining cases of regional design that can be applied to the creation of a unified plan for the forty-mile-long Llobregat River corridor. The project involves the reclamation of extensive historic industrial sites as well as agricultural resources. It will culminate in a regional design charrette involving agencies, institutions and property owners in January, 2000.

The Environmental Policy Group (EPG) has had a busy year. During the past academic year, EPG was pleased to host Elisabeth Corell, one of the new Wallenberg Post-doctoral Fellows at MIT; Mr. Gerard Keijers, head of the environmental technology unit in the Dutch Ministry of Housing, Physical Planning and Environment; and Dr. Atiq Rahman, Director of the Center for Science and Public Affairs in Bangladesh. The Environmental Technology and Public Policy Program continues to produce Working Papers exploring the ways in which public policy can impact investment in and the use of "greener" technologies for pollution prevention and pollution reduction. Work continues under the Alliance for Global Sustainability to focus on new regulatory strategies that will more effectively encourage sustainable development. Beginning next year, the group will launch an international environmental justice initiative that will include both teaching and research on this important topic. With a great deal of help from a number of graduate students, EPG has begun to modify its curriculum–adding a series of methods modules and several new courses dealing with environmental justice, environmental leadership, recycling, and the role of science in environmental policy-making. Finally, faculty are building ties to action-oriented organizations (like New Ecology Inc. and The Consensus Building Institute) so that undergraduates and graduate students will have access to an increasing array of internship possibilities.

Two years ago, the Housing, Community and Economic Development (HCED) group framed a research agenda under the headline of "The Devolution Revolution: Neighborhoods, Networks, and Numbers," which talked about three shocks: the declining demand for unskilled labor, the devolution of federal housing programs and the end of the welfare entitlement. The group has used the construct to organize its Wednesday speaker series and to launch a community development and organizing initiative in the city of Lawrence. The fall speaker series focused on research across settings, i.e. cities and countries, and fields, health care and welfare, for example. The spring series featured theoreticians and practitioners in various aspects of the job development field with particular focus on welfare-to-work, exploring how those who dealt with theory viewed practitioners and the degree to which front-line workers found the research of academics useful in the field. The "Three Shocks" theme was also played out in the field by Lecturer Karl Seidman and a group of students who, working with a neighborhood group in Lawrence, put into practice theories of community development and community organizing. Lawrence is a classic example of a poor community in which welfare reform and changes in the labor force are of critical significance. The relationship with Lawrence prospered throughout the year to the benefit of both residents and students.

The faculty in the International Development and Regional Planning (IDRP) group are involved in three major multi-year research and teaching activities, each involving 6 to 12 graduate students and/or SPURS (Special Program in Urban and Regional Studies) Fellows. One group is completing a 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. Currently, the faculty are writing manuscripts on the cases, which are scheduled for publication later this year. Another 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. The third major group is actually two teams of faculty and students from the IDRP and EPG groups in the Department and from the Chemical Engineering Department and 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 Planning Support Systems (PSS) group focused on a series of projects focusing on improving spatial data infrastructures for urban and regional planning. The Federal Geographic Data Committee, the National Resource and Conservation Service, the Environmental Protection Agency, and others have supported work on web-based tools (e.g. for extracting customized snippets of high-resolution orthophotos (corrected aerial photos). Other active research areas include modeling urban "respiration" (how land-use planning can affect metropolitan air pollution patterns), welfare-to-work accessibility, spatial patterns of office market rents, urban design assistance, community networking, representation aides for transportation studies, collaborative planning and environmental impact assessment. Each of these areas has involved class projects that led to thesis work. A number of projects are highlighted at


Our graduate programs enrolled 180 students this year. Of the total, 58 percent were women, 7 percent were students of color, and 35 percent were international students. The Department granted 52 MCP, 2 SM, and 8 PhD 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–six additional for-credit courses were offered this year: Management Fundamentals for Leaders in Non-Profit Organizations; Organizing, Mobilizing, and Deliberating: Perspectives on Power, Participation, and Democratic Politics; Challenging the Conventional Wisdom About North-South Conflict: A Shared Commitment to Long-Term Sustainability; Drafting Laws for Social, Economic and Political Change Around the World; Representing the City: Introduction to Computer Graphics for Urban Design and Planning; and Tagging: Public Graffiti or Private Art? 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) program began a two-year effort to make some key changes to the program. We are reviewing the degree requirements, enhancing options to do field research for the MCP thesis, developing various kinds of support for thesis writers, working on proposals for enhancing financial aid and recruitment activities, and considering the possibility of offering one-year specialty Master's degrees. These efforts will be completed next year.

The PhD program focused on strengthening the advisor system so that students have an easier time completing their PhD research paper, a first-year requirement. Aspects of the program instituted in the previous two years–for example, a student presenting an open colloquium on his/her PhD dissertation prospectus–continue to work well and are now becoming a normal part of department routine.


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

Sophia Chong and Daniel Delisi won Carroll Wilson Awards. Jonna Anderson and Cherry Liu were selected as Burchard Scholars. Jonna Anderson and Farzana Mohamed were named Environmental Scholars. Aziza Agia won the Ida M. Green Fellowship. Eric Plosky received the Ilona Karmel Essay First Prize and the Boit Manuscript First Prize. Saleem Ali was awarded the Kristen Finnegan Writing Prize. A Center for International Studies Ford Development Grant was awarded to Monica Pinhanez, and Janet Martinez received a MacArthur Transnational Security Fellowship.

Benjamin Schonberger won an American Planning Association Private Practice Division Scholarship. Sylvia Dohnert received a National Council for Science and Technology Scholarship from the Government of Venezuela. An Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning/Fannie Mae Foundation PhD Dissertation Award went to Daniel Serda. Jennifer Barker won a National Science Foundation Fellowship and Roohi Abdullah won an American Association of University Women International Fellowship. The Fannie Mae Foundation 1998 Best Student Paper Award went to Joaquin Herranz. Sophia Chong received an International Achievement Award from the American Academy of Achievement. Department of Housing and Urban Development Fellows included Geraldine Campos, Ines Soto, Eliza Edelsberg, Madeline Fraser, Brandon Mitchell, and Tina Pihl. Public Policy and International Affairs Fellows were Katrina Tavanlar, Lou Baker, LaTonya Green, Carolyn Lee, and Sophia Chong.

At our annual Commencement Breakfast, the Department presented a number of student awards. Kelly Davenport received the American Institute of Certified Planners Outstanding Student Award. The Outstanding Contribution to the Intellectual Life of the Department Award went to Jessica Andors and Brent Ryan. Eryn Deeming, LaTonya Green and Heather Hillman won the Departmental Service Award; Michael Fischer received an Honorable Mention. Michelle Apigian won the Wallace, Floyd Award for City Design. The award for Outstanding MCP Thesis went to Natasha Iskander and Andrew Waxman. Natasha Iskander also won the Flora Crockett Stephenson Writing Prize. Special Rubenstein Foundation awards in memory of Professor Donald Schon Award went to Richard Cho and Benjamin Schonberger, and in memory of Professor Bennett Harrison to Armand Cicarrelli, Stacey Cordeiro and Tina Pihl.


The fall telethon is always a gratifying way to reconnect with our alumni/ae. This year, 21 faculty and student callers contacted 190 alumni/ae, securing 130 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. Area alumni/ae also participated in a provocative two-part symposium on Ethics in Planning organized by Lecturer Terry Szold, the Department's liaison to the local chapter of the American Planning Association. 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.


During 1998—1999, the Undergraduate Committee continued to focus attention on increasing the integration of our undergraduate majors into Department-wide activities and on ways to broaden the impact of our programs on undergraduate life at the Institute. We sponsored dinner gatherings designed to help our undergraduates get to know one another and to meet more of our faculty, and organized a joint forum with graduate students to discuss graduate school and career options. The Committee sponsored a welcome-back trip to Martha's Vineyard at the beginning of the new school year.

Building on the success of the 1998 spring study trip to Montreal, the Department has made a commitment to offering an annual study trip for undergraduate majors. During IAP 1999, Professor John de Monchaux led a study trip to London in which eleven of our majors participated. Professor Mark Schuster will lead the IAP 2000 trip to Barcelona, Spain, which, at the students' request, will be preceded by a fall course introducing the planning and development of Barcelona.

Our biggest achievement in 1998-1999, shared with our colleagues in the Department of Political Science, was the Committee on Curricula's approval of the new interdisciplinary Minor in Public Policy, which will be available beginning in the fall of 1999. A revised version of 11.002J, "Fundamentals of Public Policy," will be implemented in the fall of 1999, and a new course, 11.003J, "Methods of Public Policy Analysis" will be implemented in the spring of 2000.

We now see even greater opportunities to use the Freshman Advising Seminar program to increase the visibility of the Department to MIT undergraduates, and are taking action to make this happen. In 1998-99, DUSP offered five Freshman Advising Seminars with the over-arching theme of "The US and the World." The theme reflected the Department's belief that to be innovative and effective in professional practice in the 21st century, incoming students must develop a new mindset appropriate for the new times. MIT students must become knowledgeable about the changing role of the United States in an increasingly integrated world economy and political, technological, and civic culture. In 1999-2000, the Department will offer six Freshman Advising Seminars.

The DUSP-based MIT Teacher Education Program (TEP) has just completed its fifth year. Over this period, more than one hundred 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 five years a number of students have completed certification and are now teaching in public middle or high schools across the country. Others who have completed the program have gone on to graduate schools of education including Harvard, Stanford, University of California-Berkeley, and Columbia. In addition, two students have entered the Peace Corps.

In recognition of the program's success, Provost Brown authorized a new position in DUSP for a member to join the teaching staff of TEP and be based in DUSP. After a careful search, Dr. Eric Klopfer has been hired and will join the Department as an Assistant Professor in the fall. In addition, the arrival of Dr. Ceasar McDowell as Director of the Department's Center for Reflective Community Practice (formerly the Community Fellows Program) has added another strong voice to the study of urban educational reform. 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


Several faculty members won honors, both at MIT and from national organizations. Professor Judith Tendler was selected as a Class of 1960 Faculty Fellow and Associate Professor Lawrence Vale was named a Margaret MacVicar Faculty Fellow. Associate Professor Qing Shen won the Emerging Scholar Paper Award of the Association of American Geographers and the Horward Critique Prize from the Urban and Regional Information Systems Association. A paper submitted by Professor J. Mark Schuster won the Editor's Prize for Best Paper from the Journal of Nonprofit Management and Leadership. Professor Frank Levy's book, The New Dollars and Dreams: American Incomes and Economic Change, was the subject of a column in the Boston Globe in February.

In faculty development, Qing Shen was promoted to Associate Professor and J. Mark Schuster was promoted to Professor. After extensive national searches, the Department is pleased to have selected three new assistant professors. Eric Klopfer joins the Department as the new head of the Teacher Education Program. Dara O'Rourke has been appointed Assistant Professor of Environmental Policy. Balakrishnan Rajogopal was hired as Assistant Professor of Law and Development.


The non-degree Special Program for Urban and Regional Studies (SPURS) hosted nine Fellows from Brazil, Colombia, Georgia, Jamaica, Korea, Pakistan, and Kosovo, Yugoslavia. Their work focused on decentralization, environmental and regional planning, and land-use management. In October, SPURS celebrated its 30th Anniversary with a one-day workshop on "Human Development and Collective Action: Fresh Concerns and Opportunities." The workshop was attended by past and present Fellows, DUSP faculty, and some members of the MIT academic community. Four prominent speakers, Richard Jolly of the United Nations, Elinor Ostrom of Indiana University, Nancy Birdsall of Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and Tom Kessinger of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, made probing remarks which sparked lively discussions around the reciprocal themes of concern and action for human development.


The domestic counterpart, The Community Fellows Program, marked its first year under the leadership of its new Director, Dr. Ceasar McDowell. Five fellows were brought in this year to assist with the redesign of the program. As a result of this effort the program was renamed the Center for Reflective Community Practice and has broadened its mission from supporting mid-career professionals to developing mutually enriching linkages between the resources of communities and MIT. In addition to the planning and design activities, The Center conducted the first regional conference (Cybersisters and Virtual Visionaries) on the role of women of color in the information age.

Fellows have also participated in several national conferences on community leadership and conduct individual projects ranging from the role of culture in the experience of immigrants caught in the US legal system to the role of race and identity in public dialogue.


Faculty raised $592,465 in new funds for the following projects:

Professor Joseph Ferreira, Jr. received a third year of funding of $92,056 for a total of $263,548 from the Aerodyne Research Corporation for a project on Urban Metabolism and Environmental Physics, involving the development of Geographic Information Systems databases.

For research on the energy use and pollution generated by households in townships and villages in China, Professor Karen Polenske received additional funding of $32,200 for a total of $108,200. She also received $45,000 from the Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change to investigate Energy Intensity and Pollution Differentials between State-owned Enterprises and Township and Village Enterprises in China.

Professor Frank Levy received an additional $50,000 for a total of $75,000 from Ford Motor Company for the design of two "Community-of-Practice" web sites. He also received $220,709 in new funding from the Alfred P. Sloan foundation for research on "Computerized Work and Changing Skill Demands."

To support the MIT Colloquia on the Future of Boston, Mr. Thomas Piper received funding from the Gillette Company in the amount of $62,500.

For the fourth 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 1998-99