MIT Reports to the President 1997-98


The Department of Urban Studies and Planning (DUSP) continues its tradition of top-notch scholarship and teaching on cutting-edge city planning and urban development issues, while trying to address the challenge of keeping the cost of a professional education affordable to low- and middle-income students, whose starting annual salaries in the field average around $35,000, and whose debts average around that figure as well.

In October, the Department hosted a very productive meeting with our Visiting Committee. The Committee's report states: "It was the unanimous opinion of the committee that under the leadership of Professor Bish Sanyal, the faculty and students have together produced a record of achievement that has to be the envy of every planning school in this country." Despite this glowing praise, the Visiting Committee did identify 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. Following up on the Visiting Committee's recommendation, we are currently developing a strategic/business plan for the Department.


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). Some highlights of the past year include:

Faculty and students of the City Design and Development Group organized and participated in the Boston Harbor Conference, sponsored by MIT and the Boston Globe. The Conference brought together community and national experts to debate how best to use this regional asset. As part of the program, students in the Boston Harbor Studio at MIT prepared proposals for the redevelopment of industrial waterfront sites on the Harbor. The results of the studio were presented to civic leaders and Harbor advocates. Twenty-two students and faculty of the group also participated in the fifth Beijing Urban Design Studio, held in China from June 9-July 11. The studio, which involved Chinese students and faculty, studied options for the redesign of an historic area surrounding the White Pagoda, Beijing's oldest structure, and presented alternatives to city officials. Continuing its collaborative program with the Department of Architecture, the group awarded five Urban Design Certificates to graduating Master's students.

The Environmental Technology and Public Policy Program of the Environmental Policy Group (EPG) was in full swing this past year. EPG faculty examined changes in the regulatory system that might be most helpful in encouraging investment in and dissemination of "greener" technologies (for pollution prevention, pollution control and remediation). In response to a request from the US Environmental Protection Agency, ETP participants made presentations in Washington, DC and Boston. In May, ETP offered its first annual symposium reporting on the group's research. ETP faculty received a grant from the Alliance for Global Sustainability to develop a Europe-Japan-US follow-on to ETP's study of the impacts of regulatory flexibility on corporate decisions to innovate. EPG faculty also helped to facilitate at a special informal problem-solving session for the Climate Change negotiators headed to Kyoto, Japan. EPG faculty, in partnership with faculty at several other universities, was one of only 44 applicants (of the 250+ who applied) invited to submit a full proposal to the National Science Foundation in its search for a center of excellence on the study of risk. Decisions about the creation of 8 - 10 Centers for Risk Management will be made in late 1998.

With funding from the Brookings Institution, the Housing, Community and Economic Development (HCED) group studied the impact of welfare reform through the lens of non-profit housing organizations in Boston. The group explored how the Metropolitan Boston Housing Partnership and several community development corporations are working to get their welfare-based tenants into training programs and thus into the labor force. The project has been tracking how families deal with the hurdles and opportunities presented by a rapidly shifting world of housing subsidies, and welfare and training programs that are blending together in the wake of devolution from Washington. In addition, under the creative direction of Professor Martin Rein, members of the HCED group have conducted a year-long seminar series on types of organizational networks as they impact a variety of institutions: police departments, industrial chains, community housing, military base closings and other settings where the concept of networking has significance.

The International Development and Regional Planning (IDRP) group faculty continued a set of three major research and teaching activities during the past year, involving 6 to 12 graduate students and/or SPURS (Special Program in Urban and Regional Studies) Fellows in each. A year-long seminar analyzing successful cases of administrative decentralization was coupled with field studies during the summer in nine countries (Colombia, Cote d'Ivoire, Honduras, India, Pakistan, the Philippines, South Africa, Thailand, and Uganda). The students are currently preparing the reports from the seminar and field studies for a book manuscript. The fourth in a series of research projects in Northeast Brazil is underway with another group of faculty and students who are working on issues of social investment. The energy-conservation and pollution-reduction project in the coke-making plants in Shanxi Province, China, not only involves faculty and students from the IDRP group, but also from the Environmental Policy Group in the Department and from the Chemical Engineering Department at MIT, as well as from institutes in Switzerland, Japan, and China, as part of the Alliance for Global Sustainability. In addition, other faculty are working with students on issues of late industrialization outside the North Atlantic region and analyzing the rapid growth of motor vehicles in emerging countries.

The Planning Support Systems (PSS) group's research and class projects have continued to focus on understanding urban spatial structure and prototyping information infrastructures that help in visualizing and debating urban futures. Usage of the original MIT Digital Ortho Browser website ( has climbed steadily to 4,000+ hits per day. Numerous classes, design studios, government agencies, private firms, and citizens are using it to obtain customized, high-resolution snippets of digital orthophotos (corrected aerial photos) of greater Boston. Follow-up projects with other agencies are extending the original ideas to address image repositories of other geographic areas and to research interoperability issues in spatial data processing. Several other externally funded research efforts helped link class projects to eventual thesis work. These included studies of the spatial determinants of office market rents; welfare-to-work accessibility; urban 'respiration' (i.e. how land use planning can affect metropolitan air pollution patterns); and multimedia representational aides for transportation planning.

Faculty-led seminars and projects often cut across the different disciplines within the Department and provided some of the intellectual highlights of the year. In the fall, Professors Lloyd Rodwin and Bish Sanyal led an engaging faculty colloquium on "The Profession of City Planning: Changes, Successes, Failures, and Challenges (1900-2000)." Proceedings from the colloquium will be published in a book, which is likely to have a significant impact on the future of planning education in this country.

In the spring, with support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Department sponsored a one-and-a-half day symposium on "Advanced Technology and Low-Income Communities," building on several gatherings on the topic which the Department has hosted in the past few years. DUSP faculty continue to push the frontier of knowledge on this important topic to the future of cities.

We were fortunate to have in residence this year Martin Luther King Visiting Professor Ernesto J. Cortés, Jr. In addition to teaching lively courses on community organizing and civic engagement, Professor Cortés gave two public talks, one at MIT and one at annual American Planning Association conference held in Boston in April (see below). While in residence at MIT, Professor Cortés received the prestigious Heinz Family Foundation Award for public policy.


Our graduate programs enrolled 182 students this year. Of the total, 54% were women, 9% were students of color, and 37% were international students. The Department granted 51 MCP, 4 SM, and 6 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--seven additional for-credit courses were offered this year: Financing Infrastructure; Management Fundamentals for Leaders in Non-Profit Organizations; The Environment, Manufacturing and Massachusetts Politics; Public-Purpose Real Estate; Representing the City: Introduction to Computer Graphics for Urban Design and Planning; Organizing for Change, and Tagging: Public Graffiti or Private Art? These classes, combined with non-credit offerings, attracted over 300 students, alumni/ae and local professionals.

The Master's in City Planning program focused its efforts this year on strengthening the communication skills of our graduates. With a grant from the Ford Foundation, we are developing a new recruitment and internship program for promising graduate students of color.

Over the past several years, the PhD program has instituted a number of small changes to get students through the program faster and it seems to be working. Of the students who entered three years ago, all of them had finished their exams before the end of the fifth semester--an improved performance. This year, we instituted a requirement that students had to conduct an open colloquium in which they presented their dissertation proposals to their committees and other interested department members. These colloquia seem to be working well with good attendance and a good attitude so that students come away with a lot of constructive criticism. Students now have the option of completing three publishable papers in lieu of a dissertation.


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

Julie Wagner won a Carroll Wilson Award. Shawn Escoffery received several awards, including: the Black Graduate Student Association, Outstanding Service to the Black Community; Black Student Union, Cultural Awareness Award; Graduate Student Council, Edward L. Horton Fellowship Award; L.U.Ch.A., Outstanding Service Award; and, Office of Minority Education, Outstanding Service Award. Two doctoral students won fellowships through the Center for International Studies: Brett Ballard won a Ford Development Grant, Mellon-MIT Program on Migration and NGOs and Rodrigo Serrano won a Ford Development Fellowship.

Richard Rosález was a Class of 1938 Scholar, an I. Austin Kelly III Essay Competition Winner, and received an Office of Minority Education, Certificate of Academic Excellence. Peter Siu and Eric Plosky were selected as Burchard Scholars, and Isela Rodriguez won a List Foundation Fellowship in the Arts. Kristin Little received a Council for the Arts Grant and a Horacio Caminos Memorial Fund Scholarship. The Hugh Hampton Young Fellowship went to Michael Fischer, while Jill Blockhus won the Ida M. Green Fellowship. Aya Okada won an Industrial Performance Center Doctoral Research Fellowship and Sumila Gulyani won an International Motor Vehicle Program Research Grant. The Kristen Finnegan Prize was awarded to Cherie Abbanat. Office of Dean of Students for Undergraduate Education, Multicultural Community Service Awards went to Gilbert Contreras, Shawn Escoffery, and Richard Rosález. Contreras also received the Office of Minority Education, Distinguished Service Award.

Outside of MIT, our students garnered local, national and international awards as well. Heeten Kalan was honored by the Ignacio Martin Baro Fund for Mental Health and Human Rights for his exemplary leadership in human rights. Margaret Super won an American Planning Association Private Practice Division Scholarship, while Susan Silberberg received the American Planning Association Charles Abrams Scholarship and the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning Edward McClure Prize for Best Student Paper. Michael Fischer was awarded a Bush Foundation Leadership Fellowship and Otis Rolley, III won a Buttonwood Foundation, J. Marshall & J. H. Booker Graduate Scholarship. Raquel Gomes and Mônica Pinhanez received CAPES-Brazil Ph.D. Fellowships, while Lois Stanley won a Department of Housing and Urban Development Doctoral Dissertation Research Grant. Thomas Campanella received a Fulbright Research Grant. Michael Crow won a Garden Club Federation of Massachusetts Evelyn Cole Scholarship and Nicole Barnes was awarded a National Security Education Program Graduate Enhancement Fellowship. Inter-American Foundation Dissertation Fellowship Awards went to Octavio Damiani and Ann Steffes. Damiani also won a Regional Development Bank Fellowship Award. Anthony Ng was selected to participate in the National Congress for Community Economic Development Emerging Leaders Program. Aya Okada was awarded a Japan Foundation, Asia Center Research Fellowship and a Matsushita International Foundation, Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship. Sylvia Dohnert received an Inter-American Foundation, US Graduate Studies Fellowship (1996-1998). Joyce Coffee won a Philanthropic Educational Organization, International Chapter Sister Scholar Award. Sumeeta Srinivasan received a Lincoln Institute for Land Policy Dissertation Fellowship and Alejandro Walters won a Social Science Research Council, International Dissertation Research Fellowship. Marco Magrassi won a University of Naples Fellowship Award.

Lisa Davis and Margaret Super were selected as Truman Scholars. Lou Baker, Beth Ann Burris, Shawn Escoffery, Otis Rolley III, and Katrina Tavanlar participated in the Woodrow Wilson/Public Policy and International Affairs Fellows program. Geraldine Campos, Ketsia Colinet, Gilbert Contreras, Eliza Edelsberg, Alma Flores, and Inés Soto were Fellows in the Department of Housing and Urban Development Community Development Work Study Program.

At our annual Commencement Breakfast, the Department presented a number of student awards. Susan Silberberg received the American Institute of Certified Planners Outstanding Student Award, as well as the Flora Crockett Stephenson Writing Prize. The Outstanding Contribution to the Intellectual Life of the Department award went to Anne Beamish. Laura London and Heather Hillman won the Departmental Service Award; Joyce Coffee, Kelly Davenport, Shawn Escoffery, Anthony Ng, Otis Rolley III, and Julie Wagner received Honorable Mention. Margaret Super won the Wallace, Floyd Award for City Design. The award for Outstanding MCP Thesis went to Susan Silberberg and Andrew Weaver.


Our alumni/ae continued the trend of increasing generosity during the fall telethon. Eighteen callers contacted 182 alumni/ae, who had a pledge rate of 69% and a gift upgrade rate of 37%. Alumni/ae also gave generously of their time. In addition to guest appearances in classes and presentations at luncheon seminars, sponsoring student interns and participating in the annual "Chase-A-Planner" exercise, alumni/ae shared their wisdom at each of the Program groups' alumni/ae career panels, which were very well received by students. More than 100 alumni/ae joined us at a reception at the American Planning Association annual conference, where they heard a very engaging talk by Martin Luther King Visiting Professor Ernesto Cortés, Jr. At the annual Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning meeting, the Department sponsored a reception for our alumni/ae who are academics and scholars. Our alumni/ae continue to report that they eagerly await our semi-annual journal,, and are loyal contributors to the alumni/ae update section.


The Department's Undergraduate Committee focused its attention on efforts to increase the participation of our 28 undergraduate majors in 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, organized a joint forum with graduate students to discuss the merits of pursuing our 5-year SB/MCP degree, and supported a highly-successful Patriot's Day weekend study trip to Montreal, during which ten DUSP majors met with urban planning faculty at McGill University and toured the city.

More broadly, the Department continues its efforts to increase the visibility of the DUSP undergraduate program within the MIT community. Our plans to develop a new interdisciplinary Minor in Public Policy, to be targeted to those with majors in science and engineering, are going forward. In Spring 1998, we put together a committee comprised of faculty from DUSP and Political Science, to finalize a proposal that will be presented to the Committee on Curricula early in the 1998-99 academic year.

In the meantime, overall Course XI subject enrollments and subject ratings seem to be solid and increasing, indicative of growing interest among MIT undergraduates in these issues. In this regard, two new DUSP subjects seem especially promising--Professor Lawrence Bacow's 11.122J, Environmental Policy and Economics, and Professor Frank Levy's 11.126J, Economics of Education.

DUSP faculty once again led several very popular Freshman Advising Seminars (FAS). We now see even greater opportunities to use the FAS program to increase the visibility of the Department to MIT undergraduates, and are taking action to make this happen. In 1998-99, DUSP will offer five Freshman Advising Seminars with the over-arching theme of "The US and the World." The theme reflects 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. This new mindset will need to appreciate the complex interconnections among economic transactions, political relationships, and technological discoveries, as played out in cities, regions and nation-states. The individual seminars will examine the international dimensions of such diverse areas as environmental treaty negotiation, transportation planning, race relations, leadership, and urban quality. Students and faculty from the various seminars will be brought together for a series of joint dinner meetings with distinguished speakers. In addition, it is our plan to integrate the skills and international perspectives of the Department's mid-career SPURS Fellows (see below) into the activities of these Freshman Seminars.

The DUSP-based MIT Teacher Education Program (TEP) has just completed its fourth full year. Over this period, 74 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 three years, 16 more students have completed certification and are now teaching in public middle or high schools, mostly in the Boston area. Others who have completed the program have gone on to become graduate students in schools of education. Over the past two years these have included 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 Moses authorized a new position in DUSP for a faculty member to join the teaching staff of TEP. After a careful search (which is currently underway), we look forward to the successful candidate being on board in September 1998. In addition, the impending arrival of Dr. Ceasar McDowell as Director of the Department's Community Fellows Program (see below) will add another strong voice to the study of urban educational reform. Dr. McDowell's presence, together with the new TEP appointment and Frank Levy's new class on the "Economics of Education," should enable the Department to develop a solid program of research, teaching, and neighborhood outreach in the area of urban education. With this enlarged staff and broader set of institutional commitments, 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 the following URL:


The Department is proud of the many honors garnered by Professor Lawrence Bacow, including his appointment as Chancellor of MIT, his selection as Associate Director of the Center for Environmental Initiatives and his appointment as the Lee & Geraldine Martin Professor of Environmental Studies. In other appointments, Assistant Professor Vicki Norberg-Bohm was named Co-director of the Program for Environmental Education and Research (PEER).

A number of faculty won awards, both at MIT and from national and international organizations. Professor of the Practice of Urban Design Dennis Frenchman won the Irwin Sizer Award for Most Innovative Teaching (along with Architecture Professor Jan Wampler) for the Beijing Urban Design Studio. Lecturer Meenu Tewari won the Graduate Student Council Teaching Award for the School of Architecture and Planning. At the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning annual conference, Associate Professor Lawrence Vale won the Chester Rapkin Award for Best Professional Paper and Professor Emeritus Lloyd Rodwin won the Distinguished Planning Educator Award. The Heinz Family Foundation gave one of its five awards for civic and academic achievements to Martin Luther King Visiting Professor Ernesto Cortés, Jr. Research Associate Reinhard Goethert was named to the United Nations Center for Human Settlements Scroll of Honor for his work with the DUSP/Architecture Special Interest Group in Urban Settlements (SIGUS).

Several class projects were featured in the media. Students in 11.018, Adjunct Professor Paul Levy's class, Solving the Infrastructure Crisis, are required to work as teams to evaluate and recommend solutions to infrastructure problems in the Boston metropolitan area. Three students did a project documenting the lack of street signs in downtown Boston and made a proposal to solve the problem. The Wall Street Journal New England edition did a story on their presentation, prompting the Mayor to announce a comprehensive program to install street signs throughout the city. There was follow-up coverage by the Boston Globe and Channels 5 and 56.

Lecturer Karl Seidman's students in 11.438, Economic Development Planning, were featured in a local Lawrence, Massachusetts paper for a presentation they made to city officials and community residents recommending initiatives to revitalize the downtown area. Similarly, a local Wilmington, Massachusetts paper covered a public meeting about the Lowell street Corridor, where student teams from Lecturer Terry Szold's class 11.360, Community Growth and Land Use Planning, outlined a detailed plan for redesigning that area.

In faculty development, Timothy Riddiough was promoted to Associate Professor. Dennis Frenchman was appointed Professor of the Practice of Urban Design. Paul Smoke was appointed Associate Professor of the Practice of Development and Planning. The Department hired Jennifer Davis, who will join the faculty as Assistant Professor of Infrastructure Planning in the fall (as reported last year) and Eran Ben-Joseph, who will also arrive this fall as Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture.

After an extensive national search, the Department is pleased to have selected as the new head of the Community Fellows Program, Associate Professor of the Practice of Community Development Ceasar McDowell (see below).

On a sad note, we report the passing of Professor Emeritus Donald A. Schön in the fall.


The non-degree Special Program for Urban and Regional Studies (SPURS) hosted fourteen Fellows from Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Georgia, Korea, India, Italy, Japan, Myanmar, and the Netherlands. Their work focused on decentralization, environmental planning, international development, transportation, and urban renewal and historic preservation. The SPURS weekly luncheon seminars, attended by Fellows, students and faculty in DUSP, brought prominent regional and international scholars from a variety of fields who lectured on important development issues and discussed policy options with Fellows, faculty and students.


The domestic counterpart, the Community Fellows Program (CFP), brought together seven Fellows from communities of color to work on projects ranging from the introduction of web-based programming in two inner-city Boston high schools, to developing a plan for publishing written materials in the Wampanoag language for tribes around New England, to evaluating a 25-organization collaborative providing services to African-American youth. In addition to individual projects, the CFP also sponsored a seminar series, introduced a Saturday Web Design training program for Latino, Asian and Black young people, and hosted a series of meetings of a Women of Color in Development Research group.

After a year-long search, the CFP hired Dr. Ceasar McDowell as its new Director. Professor McDowell is a national leader in research and writing on the intersection of race, technology and education. He brings to the Community Fellows Program both a strong national perspective and deep roots at the local level in communities across the country. With the change in leadership of the Community Fellows Program and advances in information technology, the Department is well positioned to devise new ways to develop the intellectual capacity of communities and to help them address their various needs through innovative use of information technology.


Faculty raised over $900,000 in grants and contracts for the following projects: Professor Joseph Ferreira, Jr. received funding from the US Department of the Interior for $38,950 to conduct research on "Improved Tools for Utilizing Digital Orthophoto Metadata." He is also doing collaborative work with the National Resources Conservative Service of the US Department of Agriculture on "Spatial Data for Distributed and Interoperable GIS." For this project, Professor Ferreira was funded for $337,835. Professor Karen Polenske did a study on the nature and cost of infrastructure provision for stimulating development of economically distressed areas. The project was funded by the Economic Development Administration in the amount of $105,000. For research on the energy use and pollution generated by households in townships and villages in China, Professor Polenske received funding for $75,000. The New Jersey Institute of Technology awarded Professor Bacow a $7,500 grant for "Understanding Risk-Sharing Mechanisms for Brownfields Redevelopment." Professor Frank Levy received seed funding for $25,000 from Ford Motor Company for the design of two "Community-of-Practice" web sites. Professor Lawrence Susskind was awarded $35,000 in seed funding for research on "Regulatory Flexibility." For the third funding cycle, the Department received $90,000 from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development to support minority and economically disadvantaged graduate students and received a new grant from the Ford Foundation for $199,100 for recruitment and development of a new internship program for minority graduate students.

More information about the Department can be found on the World Wide Web at the following URL:

Bish Sanyal

MIT Reports to the President 1997-98