Gabriella Y. Carolini
Ford Career Development 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 was the lead co-chair of the Global Planning Educators’ Interest Group within the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning from 2014-2015 and co-chair from 2012-2014.  Within MIT, Gabriella 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 advises 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.

Areas of work

South-South Cooperation


Water and Sanitation


Fiscal Policy & Urban Development




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]

Books and Chapters

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.

Master in City Planning Theses

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
To 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

Doctoral Students

Daniel Gallagher

Brittany Montgomery

Prassanna Raman

Research Team

Anisha Anantapadmanabhan

Anisha Anantapadmanabhan is a Master in City Planning candidate (2016) at MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning. Her research interests include water resources management, pricing dynamics and innovative policymaking in the field. Having worked in the private and social sectors prior to graduate school, Anisha has a diverse background in finance, strategic planning and project implementation in the areas of rural education, public health, and environmental sustainability.

Isadora Cruxen

Isadora Cruxen is a Master in City Planning candidate (2016) in the International Development Group at MIT's Department of Urban Studies and Planning. 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 was also involved in organizing and facilitating participatory processes, such as the elaboration of Brazil's Plan of Action for the Open Government Partnership. She is particularly interested in participatory planning, collective action, and water governance. She is currently the Co-Vice President of the MIT Water Club.
MIT Spectrum Interview: "Lessons from the MIT Water Club"

Jessie Lee Heneghan

Jessie Heneghan is a Master in City Planning candidate (2017) at MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning. Prior to studying at MIT, Jessie worked as a program coordinator for a non profit urban planning and design firm that focuses on community-based participatory design. In addition to directing design workshops for public space projects in Kenya, Haiti and Southern California, Jessie worked on community and economic development activities, including the implementation of a business training course and the launch of a micro-finance lending arm of the NGO. Her interests include community-led development, participatory design, and micro-finance.

Former Research Assistants

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