Goethert focuses his interests in methodologies of settlement design and housing. He designs site and services housing projects and develops policies for housing the low-income majority in developing countries, including developing tools for designers, training programs for technical staff, research programs, and monitoring strategies for agencies. He teaches courses on urbanization, design, and housing in developing countries and is the director of SIGUS, a school-wide program focused on the profession and housing.
He is a Visiting Tutor at Oxford Brookes University in England. As sole designer or in partnership, Goethert has designed approsimately 15 site and services housing developments in Central and South America, Africa and Asia. He has served as a consultant to internationaql development agencies, including The World Bank, US Agency for International Development, German Technical Cooperation Agency, United Nations Center for Housing, United Nations Children's Fund, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and the World Health Organization, as well as to the housing ministries of Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Ecuador, Burma, Puerto Rico, Chile, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Zambia, Ghana, Egypt, Syria, and Ethiopia, among others. Much of his approach is documented in "Urbanization Primer," with Horacio Caminos (MIT Press, 1978), and "Making Micro Plans: A Community Based Process in Programming and Development," with Nabeel Hamdi (Intermediate Technology Publications, 1988).
A recent book with Nabeel Hamdi, "Action Planning for Cities: A Practical Guide" (John Wiley and Sons Press) focuses on participatory community development, drawing on extensive case studies from around the world and is available in English and Chinese. "Upgrading Urban Communities: A Resource for Practitioners," prepared for the World Bank/UN-Habitat Cities Alliance, has just been published as a website and as a CD.
Goethert's current focus is on the participation of private enterprise in assisting the underserved low income majority, and in participatory planning methodologies at the community level linked to strategic city planning. Current projects include preparation of websites and CDs on Urban Upgrading and on Urban Environmental Management, support to governments through computer aided 'distance learning' and development of field tools for practitioners. Recent initiatives have drawn in children as key elements in the urban future.
Goethert, who was appointed in 1970, received the American Institute of Architects Education Honors for the SIGUS program in 1989. He earned his BArch from North Carolina State University in 1968, MArch from MIT in 1970, and Dr.-Ing in City and Regional Planning from Rheinisch-Westfalische-Technische Hochschule, Aachen, West Germany in 1985. For his thesis, he was awarded the Friedrich-Wilhelm Foundation Prize. In October 1997, Goethert was named recipient of the United Nations Habitat Scroll of Honour, an international award for "outstanding contributions in the development of innovative methodologies, training and field practice in Community Action Planning."