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OADD 2200 - Planning for Urban Sustainability

Type d'enseignement : Seminar

Semester : Autumn 2018-2019

Number of hours : 24

Language of tuition : English


Prefer some background or coursework on urban studies and policy, economics or social studies, though not a prerequisite

Course Description

Cities grapple with promoting their economies, their environments, and social equity. It is estimated that 70% of the world's population will live in cities by 2050. In the last decade, the role of cities in the drive towards sustainability has become more apparent. Over the last 10 years, a new city tool has emerged to accomplish these goals-- long-range sustainability plans. Not quite regulatory mechanisms, not quite visionary political statements, not quite budgets, these innovative hybrids have evolved for cities to envision, implement and track progress towards their sustainability goals. While each city's plan is unique, over the course of the last few years, common elements and strategies have surfaced, as the creation and implementation of the plans have spread to small and midsize cities. This course is designed to prepare future policymakers and those who work with them to envision, plan and manage for urban sustainability, inclusive economic development and social equity with a long-range sustainability plan. The course will combine theory with practical approaches as well as original research.

The course will 1) provide the essential elements of this emerging tool; 2) demonstrate design and systems approaches; 3) identify critical research and analysis of key conditions, including politics, infrastructure, population, the local economy, inclusion and climate issues; 4) show how to evaluate current sustainability plans; 5) examine how to foster public engagement; and 6) discuss how to measure and track progress and constraints on implementation. We will learn about how to look at the elements through systems analysis, and ways to use design thinking to begin to uncover strategies. We will also learn about how to do basic research in demographics. The class will look at mostly New York City as an example but include other cities, and set this field within the global context of the UN's Sustainable Development Goals, World Bank criteria, UN Habitat, as well as developments in foreign cities.


MESA, Nilda

Pedagogical format

The classes will be a combination of lecture and discussion. Students will have the option of submitting questions and responses before class for extra credit.

Class will meet once a week for 2 hours. The professor will have office hours as well. Teams will be formed early in the semester in preparation for the midterm and final projects

Course validation

1) Class participation (10%)
2) a midterm presentation that will serve as preparation for the final paper (25%)
3) a final group paper, 25 pages, on a specific topic in the class, involving original research (45%)
4) a final group presentation (20%). Anonymous evaluations by other team members will be required as well. Optional: student questions and responses to the weekly readings, to be submitted before class.
The final paper and presentation will be a comparative analysis and set of recommendations for best practices on one of the key topics that make up a long-term sustainability plan. For example: the incorporation of equity, inclusive economic development and avoidance of disparate impacts; building infrastructure that supports other goals; methodology strategies to develop demographic and other data; sustainability and resilience strategies for a changing climate; public health; determining the topics that most affect a city and how to prioritize them; developing metrics and a governance structure; how to integrate budget planning and other ongoing city or state processes into the long-term sustainability plan; the application of systems thinking so as to design a process that incorporates ideas and feedback loops, and others


Weekly readings, midterm presentation, final presentation, final group paper on one of the weekly themes, with original research.

Required reading

  • The Design of Business, Roger Martin
  • Thinking in Systems, Donella H. Meadows
  • One New York: The Plan for a Strong and Just City (“OneNYC”) (available online)