Gabriella Y. Carolini
Assistant Professor of International Development and Urban Planning
Massachusetts Institute of Technology


Gabriella Y. Carolini

Gabriella is an assistant professor in the International Development Group, and an affiliated professor with the Housing, Community, and Economic Development and Environmental Policy and Planning Groups, in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning (DUSP) at MIT. She has served as the lead chair of the Global Planning Educators’ Interest Group within the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning, and within MIT works as a collaborating member of the Displacement Research and Action Network, the Faculty Council of the Community Innovators Lab (CoLab), the MIT-AFRICA Advisory Committee, and as an advisor to the UrbanAfrica student initiative. Prior to arriving at DUSP, she taught at Rutgers’ Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, and worked in various capacities with the UN Millennium Project, UNFPA, UN-HABITAT, Rockefeller Foundation, Center for Sustainable Urban Development at Columbia’s Earth Institute, Oxford Analytica and a private management consultancy focusing on fixed income finance in New York. Gabriella has studied and been an affiliated researcher in universities in Brazil, France, Mozambique, and the UK. She holds a BA in Political Science from Columbia, a Master of Philosophy in Development Studies with a concentration on Economics from the University of Oxford, and a PhD in Urban Planning from Columbia, where she was a NSF-IGERT fellow in international development and globalization.

Watch an interview about Gabriella's work at MIT here.

Areas of work

South-South Cooperation


Water and Sanitation


Fiscal Policy & Urban Development




Gabriella Carolini, "The Urban Trifecta: Reforming Planning, Infrastructure, and Public Finance in African Cities", Journal of African Transformation - Biannual Journal of the Council for Development of Social Science Research in Africa and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, forthcoming.

Gabriella Carolini, Daniel Gallagher, and Isadora Cruxên, "The promise of proximity: The politics of knowledge and learning in South-South cooperation between water operators. Environment and Planning C. forthcoming.

Gabriella Carolini, "Go South, young planner, go South!" Journal of Planning Education and Research, 2018. [Abstract]
[Full text]

Gabriella Carolini, "Sisyphean Dilemmas of Development: Contrasting Urban Infrastructure and Fiscal Policy Trends in Maputo, Mozambique", International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 2017. [Abstract] [Full text via MIT access]

Gabriella Carolini, "Perverting progress? The challenges of implementing both fiscal and social responsibility in São Paulo (1995–2010)," Urban Studies, Feb 2013, Vol. 40 (2), 356-371. [Abstract] [Full text via MIT access]

Gabriella Carolini, "Framing water, sanitation, and hygiene needs among female-headed households in periurban Maputo, Mozambique," American Journal of Public Health, Feb 2012, Vol.102 (2), 256-261. [Abstract] [Full text via MIT access]

Gabriella Carolini, "The tools of whose trade? How international accounting guidelines are failing governments in the global South," Third World Quarterly, 2010, Vol. 31 (3), 469-483. [Abstract and Full text via MIT access]

Elliott Sclar, Pietro Garau, and Gabriella Carolini, "The 21st century health challenge of slums and cities," The Lancet, March 2005, Vol. 365 (9462), 901-903. [Intro from The Lancet] [Full text via 2006 Millenium Project]

Pietro Garau, Elliott Sclar, and Gabriella Carolini, "You can’t have one without the other: environmental health is urban health," American Journal of Public Health, Nov 2004, Vol. 94 (11), 1848. [Full text]


Gabriella Carolini, "Cities, Choose your partners," Japan Today, September 13, 2017.

Gabriella Carolini, "Love thy neighbours?" Helsinki Times, September 11, 2017.

Gabriella Carolini, "It's a buyer's market for development projects." The Arab News, September 2, 2017.

Books and Chapters

Gabriella Carolini, "Distributing Benefits from Africa's Urban Growth", in The Quality of Growth in Africa, edited by Joseph Stiglitz, Ravi Kanbur, Akbar Noman. Columbia University Press. Forthcoming.

Gabriella Carolini, “Valuing Possibility: South-South Cooperation and Participatory Budgeting in Maputo, Mozambique”, in Urban Planning in Sub-Saharan Africa: colonial and postcolonial planning cultures, Edited by Carlos Nunes Silva. London: Routledge, 2015. [Amazon] [MIT book record]

Gabriella Carolini, "Organizations of the urban poor and equitable urban development : process and product," In "The New Global Frontier : Urbanization, Poverty and Environment in the 21st Century" ed. by George Martine et al., London; Sterling, VA: Earthscan, 2008. [Google books preview] [MIT book record]

Pietro Garau, Elliott Sclar, and Gabriella Y Carolini, "A home in the city," UN Millennium Project. Task Force on Improving the Lives of Slum Dwellers. London; Sterling, VA: Earthscan, 2005. [Full text]



"What would you like to change in your city?"

I have had the immense pleasure of working with a very talented group of students in both Masters and Doctoral programs of planning (their names and topics follow below). Their research on some of the most challenging issues in development inspires me, and I am very honored by their recognition of our work together through the DUSP Student Council's "Excellence in Advising" award in 2014 and 2015, and the "Excellence in Teaching" award in 2017.

Master in City Planning Theses

Nicholas Allen, Master in City Planning 2017, MIT
Terra ex Machina: Land-Building and the Breach of Property Regimes

Jose Antonio Mendoza Garcia, Master in City Planning 2017, MIT
Do place-based interventions displace crime in cities? An evaluation of multiple approaches in Chihuahua, Mexico

Billy Ndengeyingoma, Master in City Planning 2017, MIT
The Balance of Local Culture and Global Economic Development: the Case of the Nyarugenge Heritage Village in Kigali, Rwanda

Valeria Vidal, Master in City Planning 2017, MIT
Reevaluating The Evaluation of Climate Adaptation Finance for Atoll Islands

Anisha Anantapadmanabhan, Master in City Planning 2016, MIT
Paying for Municipal Stormwater Services: A Case Study on Drivers of Stormwater User Fees in Three Massachusetts Communities

Isadora Araujo Cruxên, Master in City Planning 2016, MIT
Fluid Dynamics: Politics and Social Struggle in São Paulo's Water Crisis (2014-2015)

Jenna Harvey, Master in City Planning 2016, MIT
Deepening Democratic Capacity Through Collective Inquiry: Community-Led Research at Palma's Lab

Alison Coffey, Master in City Planning 2015, MIT
Negotiating Neighborhood Priorities: The Politics of Risk & Development in Medellín’s Comuna 8

Callida Cenizal, Master in City Planning 2015, MIT
Governing the metropolis: The evolution of cooperative metropolitan governance in Mexico City’s public transportation

George Beane, Master in City Planning 2014 & Master of Science in Architecture Studies 2015, MIT
Hydro-Social Infrastructures: New Models for Water-Sensitive Urban Development in Mexico City

Hector Flores-Ramirez, Master in City Planning 2015, MIT
Notes Towards a Place-Based Approach for the Development of Southern Mexico

Kate Mytty, Master in City Planning 2015, MIT
The Role of Actors and Incentives in Municipal Solid Waste Management: a Case Study on Muzaffarnagar, India

Yael Borofsky, Master in City Planning 2015 & Science, Technology and Policy 2015, MIT
Towards a Transdisciplinary Approach to Rural Electrification Planning for Universal Access in India

Sarah Dimson, Master in City Planning 2014, MIT
A Planning Paradigm for Electrification in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Case Study of Tanzania

Laura Martin, Master in City Planning 2014, MIT
Culture, Cooperation and Planning for Development in Maputo, Mozambique

Lillian Steponaitis, Master in City Planning 2014, MIT
Too Legit to Quit: Exploring Concepts of Legitimacy and Power in Scaling-Up Community Development Work (Brazil)

Anna Gross, Master in City Planning 2013, MIT
Stree Mukti Sanghatana: Exploring the Work of an Indian NGO through Gender, Economy, and Civil Society

Research Group

Isadora Cruxên

Isadora Cruxên is a doctoral student in the International Development Group at MIT's Department of Urban Studies and Planning. Her research interests include urban water supply governance and finance, urban social movements, and participatory planning. Originally from Brazil, she holds a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of Brasília and a Master in City Planning from MIT/DUSP. Prior to coming to MIT, Isadora worked as a research assistant at the Institute for Applied Economic Research in Brazil on projects about public participation in policy development. She is currently the Media and Communications Director of the MIT Water Club, having previously served as Lecture Series Chair and Co-Vice President of the club.

To learn more about Isadora's MCP Thesis on a water supply crisis in São Paulo, Brazil, click here.

MIT Spectrum Interview with Isadora: "Lessons from the MIT Water Club" 

Daniel Gallagher

Daniel is a doctoral candidate in the International Development Group at MIT's Department of Urban Studies and Planning. His research focuses on the social and political dimensions of water and climate adaptation governance. His current research explores the politics of planning for climate adaptation in Santiago, Chile and Havana, Cuba. Prior to his research at MIT, Daniel worked on issues related to climate adaptation and development at the United Nations Adaptation Fund and other international organizations. His interests include climate adaptation, disasters, political ecology, and political economy, with a focus on Latin America.

Anguelovski, I., Shi, L., Chu, E., Gallagher, D., Goh, K., Lamb, Z., ... & Teicher, H. (2016). Equity Impacts of Urban Land Use Planning for Climate Adaptation Critical Perspectives from the Global North and South. Journal of Planning Education and Research, 0739456X16645166.

Gallagher, D., & Cruickshank, H. (2015). Planning under new extremes: resilience and the most vulnerable. In Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers-Municipal Engineer (pp. 1-12). Thomas Telford Ltd. Chicago.

Fenton, A., Gallagher, D., Wright, H., Huq, S., & Nyandiga, C. (2014). Up-scaling finance for community-based adaptation. Climate and Development, 6(4), 388-397.

Nay, J. J., Abkowitz, M., Chu, E., Gallagher, D., & Wright, H. (2014). A review of decision-support models for adaptation to climate change in the context of development. Climate and Development, 6(4), 357-367.

Fitse Gelaye

Fitse is a Master in City Planning candidate (2018) in the International Development Group at MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning. Prior to MIT, Fitse completed her undergraduate degree in Architectural Studies with a focus on Environmental Design. In her last year at Mount Holyoke College, Fitse did her undergraduate thesis on the intersection between water reuse and urban development in her native Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Fitse is interested in how environmentally conscious design and community led development can benefit the urban population of developing cities, especially in terms of improving access to amenities such as water, sanitation services and housing.


Kadeem Khan is a Master in City Planning candidate in the International Development Group (IDG), originally from Trinidad and Tobago. Before starting at MIT, Kadeem worked as a researcher at the World Bank in the Poverty and Equity Practice and then as a consultant for the Bank’s Transport Practice. Kadeem is interested in international development, market accessibility, accessibility to public services, lagging regions, unequal economic development, spatial modeling/analysis and data visualization.

Brittany Montgomery

Brittany is fascinated by urban infrastructure. As a doctoral student in the International Development Group at the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning (DUSP), Brittany studies the political economy of infrastructure in cities of the Global South. Her doctoral research aims to contribute to the understanding of the ways in which the implementing organizations and institutional elements of the infrastructure project-enabling environment contribute to project outcomes in the context of Latin America. Brittany’s research is motivated by 10 years of project management, civil engineering, and transportation planning experience in seven countries. At MIT, she also works with the Comprehensive Initiative on Technology Evaluation (CITE) managing the creation of a MOOC that will disseminate CITE's experience to students from around the world. She serves on the Expert Advisory Committee of the Latin American Association of Integrated Transport Systems and BRT and is a former member of the Transportation Research Board’s Developing Countries Committee. Brittany is an AICP Certified Planner and an EIT. She is the recipient of Eisenhower, Eno, Rodwin, and MIT DUSP graduate fellowships and is an alumna of the MIT Tau Beta Pi and Chi Epsilon engineering honors society chapters. She holds an S.B. in Civil Engineering from MIT, as well as an M.S. in Transportation Engineering and Master of City Planning from the University of California at Berkeley.

Montgomery, Brittany Nikole. Cycling Trends and Fate in the Face of BRT: Case Study of Jinan, Shandong Province, PRC. Transportation Research Record, Journal of the Transportation Research Board No. 2193. Washington D.C., 2010, pp.28-36.

Montgomery, Brittany and Peter Roberts. Walk Urban: Demand, constraints and measurement of the urban pedestrian environment. Transport Sector Board TP-18 The World Bank Group Transport Papers, Washington D.C., 2008.

Montgomery, Brittany. Scaling Down to Lift Up: Financing Urban Walking Infrastructure. CODATU XIII Conference Proceedings. CODATU. Hô Chi Minh City, 2008.

Haleemah Qureshi

Haleemah is a Master in City Planning Candidate (2018) at MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering from U.C. Berkeley and has experience working at Engineering Consulting firms on issues ranging from water resources management to urban water infrastructure design. During her previous job, Haleemah conducted research on innovation programs at urban water utilities in the United States which spurred her interest in the impact of governance and finance policies on utility performance. She is particularly interested in developing cities where nontraditional models of infrastructure delivery could improve access to basic services.

Prassanna Raman

Prassanna’s research focuses on global public health challenges. Particularly, she explores environmental health and political economic issues associated with inadequate water and sanitation access in Asia and the United States. She is also interested in how the built environment and social capital networks affect chronic disease outcomes in vulnerable populations in these regions. Before coming to MIT, Prassanna worked in public health at the Duke-National University of Singapore Graduate Medical School. There, she investigated different approaches to building aging-friendly cities and chronic disease management in Asia. She has also worked as an economic strategist for the Ministry of Trade and Industry in Singapore. Prassanna holds a BA in Economics and Art History from Williams College, and her undergraduate honors thesis and research examined the economic impact of natural hazards and violence in South Asia. She also received an SM from MIT, and her graduate thesis and research with USAID explored socio-spatial dimensions of urban resilience in chronically violent cities. Prassanna has served as a Teaching Assistant for the graduate courses Introduction to International Development (Fall 2015) and Quantitative Reasoning (Spring 2016).

Former Research Assistants

Jessie Lee Heneghan, Master in City Planning 2017, MIT
Anisha Anantapadmanabhan, Master in City Planning 2016, MIT
Jennifer Ly, Master in City Planning 2015, MIT
Laura Martin, Master in City Planning 2014, MIT
Lilia Pharazyn da Silva, Master in City Planning 2014, MIT
George Beane, Master in City Planning 2014, Master of Science in Architecture Studies 2015, MIT
Emily J. Eros, Master in City Planning 2014, MIT
Benjamin H. Bradlow, Master in City Planning 2013, MIT



Portuguese Language

Contact || (617) 253-6254 || Office: 9-539

Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Department of Urban Studies & Planning

77 Massachusetts Avenue, Building 9
Cambridge, Massachusetts

Harriette Crawford (support staff)
(617) 253-7736
Office: 9-519