The Special Program for Urban and Regional Studies (SPURS) is a one-year program designed for mid-career professionals from newly industrializing countries. SPURS was founded in 1967 as part of MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning (DUSP), which has a long-standing commitment to bringing outstanding individuals to MIT to reflect on their professional practice in the field of international development. The program is designed to nurture individuals, often at a turning point in their professional careers, to retool and reflect on their policy-making and planning skills. SPURS Fellows return to their countries with a better understanding of the complex set of relationships among local, regional, and international issues. SPURS has hosted over 659 women and men from more than 109 countries in Latin America, Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Eastern and Central Europe. SPURS alumni/ae hold senior level positions in both the public and private sectors in their countries.

Most SPURS Fellows are drawn to DUSP by its large, world-renowned faculty of practitioners interested in urban and regional issues. Participating in SPURS allows Fellows to step back from their day-to-day struggles in the developing world and provides them with a critical opportunity for reflection, learning and renewal. While at DUSP, SPURS Fellows immerse themselves in a supportive academic environment where they can freely exchange ideas with colleagues who are expert in and sympathetic to issues facing developing countries. They are exposed to new theories and approaches from other Fellows, faculty and other practitioners, which they can later apply at home. In addition, the experience helps them to develop strong, positive connections with North American institutions.

“SPURS not only opened our minds to how the world worked. But Inspired us to think big and make a difference in our own countries. The connections I made largely shaped my work after MIT.”

Illac Diaz, Philippines
2005-2006 Entrepreneur