Boston Area Research Initiative

Courses ABOUT BOSTON

ArchitectureEarth and EnvironmentEducation | Engineering | Foreign LanguagesGeneral Education | History | Management | PhilosophyPsychology | Public Health | Public Policy | Sociology | Urban Planning and Design | Women, Gender, and Sexuality

Overview

As part of its efforts, BARI seeks to support graduate and undergraduate education that involves students in research-policy collaborations. A handful of professors in the greater Boston area have been offering courses that do just this, crafting the curriculum around some project or theme that engages the students with government agencies, non-profits, or community groups.

This page acts as an archive of materials from such courses, including general descriptions, syllabi, innovative assignments, and exemplary student projects. The courses are arranged by subject matter.  Please contact us if you would like to add a course to these listings. For more on research-policy work in education, see our page on Fellowships.

Courses by Subject Area

Architecture

Once and Future City
Anne Whitson Spirn, School of Architecture and Planning, MIT
Last offered in Spring 2013
Click here for the course website, which includes links to student projects from 2013 and prior years,

What is a city? What shapes it? How does its history influence future development? How do physical form and institutions vary from city to city and how are these differences significant? How are cities changing and what is their future? This course will explore these and other questions, with emphasis upon twentieth-century American cities. A major focus will be on the physical form of cities—from downtown and inner-city to suburb and edge city—and the processes that shape them.  This class explores these issues through lectures, readings, workshops, field trips to sites in the Boston area, and analysis of particular places. Using old maps, prints, and photographs, but primarily their own eyes and mind, students also have the opportunity to apply the knowledge gained in the course to “reading” a Boston-area site that they choose during the course. This semester-long project is due in four parts; the assignments vary in length from two to eight pages, a total of approximately twenty-six pages.

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Earth and Environment

Geographic Information Systems
Sucharita Gopal, Earth and the Environment Department, Boston University

Provides a theoretical and practical introduction to Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Introduces the essentials in GIS, methods of data capture and sources of data, nature and characteristics of spatial data and objects, data structures, modeling surfaces, volumes and time, and data uncertainty. Emphasis is on applications. Laboratory exercises and Boston neighborhood projects are included.

Malden River Practicum: Mystic River Watershed Association (MyWRA)
Planning for Public Access and Amenities Along the Malden River
Robert "Rusty" Russell, Department of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning
Offered in: Spring 2013
Final Report
Malden River website created by students in the course

The Water: Systems, Science and Society (WSSS) Practicum Team of Spring 2013, an interdisciplinary group of graduate students from Tufts University, partnered with the Mystic River Watershed Association (MyRWA) in support of a campaign to re-envision the Malden River, a small tributary of the Mystic River, which separates Everett, Malden, and Medford. The WSSS Team aided this process created a virtual tool kit to provide volunteers and resident leaders with an assortment of informational materials for use in a re-envisioning campaign. The WSSS Team also created a website that showcases the many materials that were produced throughout the semester. 

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Education

Developing Effective School and Community Interventions for At-Risk Children
Richard Weissbourd, Harvard Graduate School of Education and Harvard Kennedy School
Offered in Winter 2013
Syllabus

How can we develop more effective interventions for at-risk children? This module addressed this question with a focus on children in poverty and children suffering social and emotional risks. Students’ primary work was to develop a proposal for an intervention that they then presented to leaders from Boston and nearby communities. Students could select an intervention designed to improve students’ academic performance; reduce children’s social or emotional risks; or promote social, emotional, or moral development. The module considered not only whether these initiatives ameliorate deficits and troubles, but whether they nurture strengths and resiliency as well.

Doctoral Research Practicum: Comprehension, Discussion, and Debate: Implications for Literacy, Subject Matter Knowledge, and Curriculum Design
Catherine Snow,
Graduate School of Education, Harvard University
Year-long course offered in the 2013-2014 Academic Year
Syllabus

This research practicum, which is focused largely on research conducted in Boston and Everett public schools, provides students with the opportunity to participate in the multifaceted evaluation of discussion-infused pedagogy for grades four through eight, as part of the work being carried out in the third year of a Reading for Understanding grant titled "Catalyzing Comprehension through Discussion and Debate." Students learn (1) about research in reading comprehension and writing, (2) about developmental trajectories for perspective-taking, complex reasoning, and academic language, (3) how to assess all these domains, (4) how to conduct and interpret classroom observations, (5) how a large and complex research effort focused on being responsive to practitioner needs gets organized, and (6) how to design and implement an experimental evaluation, with attention to teacher professional development, fidelity of implementation, and operationalization and assessment of the theory of change. No previous research experience is expected; this course prepares students with the knowledge they need to conduct an empirical study and write an academic article summarizing that experience.

Ethnicity, Context, and Family Dynamics
Nancy Hill, Graduate School of Education, Harvard University
Offered in: Fall 2012
Syllabus

Children's development does not occur in isolation. Children grow up in families with cultural backgrounds and beliefs; in neighborhoods that are homogenous or diverse and have certain resources or risks; and children grow up with varying economic and social capital. This course focuses on the competing and overlapping definitions of race, culture and ethnicity, the central role of neighborhood, including perceptions of one's neighborhood and more objective assessments; and the influence of relative and actual socioeconomic status. This course examines how the theory and research in the social sciences has attempted to understand and disentangle these factors as they impact children and families in the following areas: parental beliefs and expectations; parents' disciplinary strategies and affection towards their children; children's mental health, academic, and career goals. As part of learning these skills, students are asked to visit one or more neighborhoods, and to assess local conditions and social dynamics. These assignments include use of the various mapping tools supported by BARI.

State Education Policy: A Practicum
Paul Reville, Harvard Graduate School of Education
Offered in Fall 2013
Syllabus

This course immerses students in the realities of state governance in education. It begins with a thorough consideration of the state's role in education, state education policy, and current issues in state policy. After this introduction, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, one of the nation's leading school reform states, becomes the laboratory for the course. Students are introduced to the history, politics, and current education policy issues in Massachusetts; however, they also consider other states' approaches to matters of policy leadership and development. Students also participate in small groups for the purpose of serving as consulting teams to various education policymaking entities in Massachusetts. The team consulting projects are designed to give students firsthand experience with the practice of doing policy development work in the context of state leadership in education.

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Engineering

Energy Efficiency Audit
Michael Gevelber, Mechanical Engineering Department, Boston University

The goal of this course is to increase building energy efficiency through engineering‐based analysis of building energy-related systems, equipment, and controls. The analysis addresses current and potential energy use as well as economic factors. Buildings on the BU campus as well as those in the City of Boston are subjects of our analysis.

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Foreign Languages

French and the Community
Carole Bergin, Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, Harvard University
Last Offered in: Fall 2013
Click here for more information about this course

An advanced French language course, where students explore Haitian culture in the classroom and in the community. In class students work on interactive oral and written activities using a variety of texts and media. In the community, through teaching French to Haitian-American children in community organizations within the Greater Boston area, students develop their oral communication skills and acquire first-hand insights into Haitian culture. The course also introduces students to some methods for teaching a foreign language.

Portuguese and the Community
Clemence Jouet-Pastre and Others, Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, Harvard University
Last offered in: Spring 2013. Will be offered in Spring 2014.
Click here for more information about this course

An advanced language course examining the Luso-African-Brazilian experience in the US. The course promotes community engagement as a vehicle for greater linguistic fluency and cultural understanding. Students are placed with Boston-area community organizations and agencies. Class work focuses on readings and films by and about Luso-African-Brazilians and specific uses of Portuguese language from these communities.

Spanish and the Community
Maria Luisa Parra-Velasco and Others, Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, Harvard University
Last offered in: Spring 2013. Will be offered in Spring 2014.
Click here for more information about this course

An advanced language course that examines the richness and complexity of the Latino experience in the US while promoting community engagement as a vehicle for greater linguistic fluency and cultural understanding. Students are placed with community organizations within the Boston area and volunteer for four hours a week. Class work focuses on expanding students' oral and written proficiency in Spanish through discussing and analyzing readings, arts, and films by and about Latinos in the US.

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General Education/First Year Seminars

Reinventing Boston
David Luberoff, Christopher Winship, and Robert Sampson; Sociology Department, FAS, Harvard University Most recently offered in: Spring 2014
Syllabus and Reading List
Article on the course from Harvard Magazine
Video
of Chris Winship talking about the course

Using a combination of guest speakers, readings about cities and neighborhoods in general, and Boston in particular, this course helped students better understand Boston specifically, and also develop a better understanding and appreciation of the challenges facing American cities in the 21st century. A particularly important component of the course is a series of assignments that has students visit and observe some of the City's neighborhoods.

Worlds of Boston: Past and Present
Catherine S. Bueker, Sociology Department, Emmanuel College
Offered in Fall 2011
Syllabus

This course was a First Year Seminar with the explicit focus of better understanding the city of Boston by exploring it through a sociological lens, an intellectual paradigm new to many first year students.  In order to explore and better understand Boston's various trends and contradictions, the course explored the diverse institutions that comprise Boston to understand how they have reflected and reinforced aspects of the city. From education to politics to sports to religion, students studied how these institutions have encouraged, mirrored, and at times, altered the people of Boston, and how the people have altered them. Additionally, students went on a series of field trips to various locations tied to the readings and discussions throughout the course of the semester.

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History

Building Boston in the 19th and 20th Centuries
Lizabeth Cohen, History Department, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University
Offered in: Spring 2005
Syllabus

This course analyzed the major developments in the built environment of the Boston area over the last two centuries. Topics covered included the evolution of commercial districts, residential neighborhoods, transportation infrastructure, and public buildings and space. The course paid particular attention to the complex interaction of architects and builders, economic and political interests, and ordinary residents in the construction of the city over time. While the course was not be explicitly comparative, it did bear in mind the ways in which Boston’s development has been unique and how it has reflected trends visible in other American and world cities.

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Management 

Advanced Applied Management, Operations, and Budgeting
Linda Bilmes, Harvard Kennedy School
Offered in: Spring 2013 (and prior years)
Syllabus
Article on the course from the Harvard Kennedy School Magazine

This course is designed to provide students with hands-on experience of working in a local government or large private non-profit budget environment. In 2013, student projects were carried out in for local officials in Boston, Somerville, and Cambridge. This is an advanced course that requires familiarity with variance analysis, cost accounting, activity-budgeting, capital budgeting, performance budgeting, and financial modeling.

Management Consulting Field Project
Kristen McCormack, School of Management, Boston University

The purpose of this course is to provide students with an in-depth understanding of the management consulting process and its practical application. The course simulates a small consulting firm where students are consultants. Students complete significant fieldwork outside of classroom time. Students explore dimensions of defining and understanding the consulting framework, engagements, work methodology, client relationship management, value creation, developing and delivering presentations and client follow-up. This course includes one primary deliverable: the initiation, scoping and completion of a consulting field project with Boston-based private and public sector entities.

Operations Management
Mark Fagan, Harvard Kennedy School
Most recently offered in: Fall 2013
Syllabus

This course is an introduction to Operations Management with a focus on the public sector. It teaches how managers create public value by delivering services effectively and efficiently. The course features experiential learning through a consulting project with a local government agency or non-profit organization. Students work in teams of 4-6 classmates to tackle a real operations management issue facing a client. Past clients have included the City of Cambridge, Children’s Hospital, Massachusetts Department of Youth Services, and Rose Kennedy Greenway Conservancy. The projects begin the second week of classes and culminate in a presentation to the class and client as well as a formal report at the end of term.

Solving Problems Using Technology
Susan Crawford, Harvard Kennedy School
Offered in: Fall 2012
Syllabus

The course was designed to be at once an entry-level survey of the govtech landscape and a course on working with community partners to solve civic problems. For the lab portion of the course, the course focused on the Dudley and Uphams Corner neighborhoods of Boston and worked with the Boston Mayor's Office of New Urban Mechanics. The goal was to find innovative technological ways to enhance work that is already being done by three community organizations in Dudley and/or propose technological assistance to support work that the community there thinks it needs.

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Philosophy

Boston: An Urban Analysis
David Manzo, Philosophy Department, Boston College
Last offered in Spring 2012
Syllabus 

Part of Boston College’s PULSE program, which educates students about social injustice by putting them into direct contact with marginalized populations and social change organizations and by encouraging discussion on classic and contemporary works of philosophy and theology, this course is intended for PULSE students who are willing to investigate, analyze, and  understand the history, problems, and prospects of Boston's neighborhoods. Assignments require students to spend time observing, researching, and writing about the neighborhood in where they also are working in placements that are part of the PULSE program.

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Psychology

Advanced Methods: Social Psychology
Dan O'Brien; Psychology Department, University of Massachusetts Boston
Government/Community Partners: City of Boston's Constituent Relationship Management System, Mayor's Office of New Urban Mechanics
Offered in: Spring 2012
Syllabus

This course puts a new twist on a traditional upper-level psychology curriculum by involving students in neighborhood-based experiments. In Spring 2012 the course focused on an experiment that tested the effectiveness of two different messages in encouraging local residents to report public problems, like potholes, to city services. The students were involved in developing hypotheses, the materials and protocol of the experiment, and in distributing flyers that contained the final messages.

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Public Health

Community-Based Methods in Environmental Health
Jonathan I. Levy, School of Public Health, Boston University
Offered in Spring 2013
Syllabus

Low‐income urban communities are exposed to many environmental and non‐environmental stressors, but many tools and techniques for public policy decision-making do not adequately address these complex settings. This course focuses on methods for assessing and addressing local community health impacts from environmental stressors, with an emphasis on health impact assessment, community-based participatory research, and analytical methods to evaluate environmental justice. Case examples include traffic and housing, and students work with a community group in Boston to implement a health impact assessment on a topic of mutual interest. 

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Public Policy

Gateway Cities Field Study
David Barron, Harvard Law School; Ann Forsyth, Department of Urban Planning and Design, Harvard Graduate School of Design; and Nicolas Retsinas, Harvard Business School 
Offered in: Spring 2013
Syllabus

In this course, students from Harvard Business School, Harvard Law School and Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, teamed up to work on interdisciplinary projects related to the redevelopment in some of greater Boston’s Gateway Cities, former industrial cities that experienced hard economic times but now are receiving renewed attention from policymakers to see how they can be redeveloped to make them important, successful places for the 21st Century. In the course, the student teams partnered with state, local and community representatives to work on specific redevelopment projects and policies.

Geographic Information Systems for Public Policy
Michael P. Johnson, Department of Public Policy and Public Affairs, McCormack Graduate School, University of Massachusetts Boston
Offered in: Spring 2013
Syllabus

The purpose of this course is to learn principles and applications of GIS to support doctoral-level research in public policy and related disciplines, such as public management, gerontology and urban and regional planning. The course has a particular focus on spatial data collection and analysis for urbanized regions within the greater Boston area. Students address basic geographic and mapping concepts as well as advanced methods suitable for doctoral research such as exploratory spatial analytic methods, model-building and multi-method & qualitative GIS. Application areas that are discussed include: economic development, housing, transportation, land use, crime and policing, census and demographic studies and public health. 

Introduction to Local Economic Development
Judith Grant Long, Harvard Graduate School of Design
Offered in Fall 2013
Syllabus
Course Web Site
 

Offered from the perspective of urban planning, this course introduces students to some of the theories, analytic frameworks, and financial tools used to deliver local economic development policies in the US. Students investigate the key debates in the field; they examine the different kinds of roles that planners play in the economic development process; and they consider the role of planners in linking these kinds of policies to outcomes in the built and natural environments. Students learn about the primary models used to understand and analyze local economic activity, including economic impact analysis and regional industry cluster analysis. They also learn about some of the tools used to finance local economic development including the basics of bond finance with a focus on tax increment financing.  To apply this learning, students examine and critique several geographically targeted and cluster-based strategies in the Boston region. These strategies include bio and tech sector innovation through the Boston Innovation District and the Cambridge Innovation Center; port-based industrial uses through the BRA/EDIC Marine Industrial Park; targeted retail policies through the Downtown Crossing Business Improvement District, and Ed-Meds via the Longwood Medical Area. Guest speakers and tours of selected sites augment classroom discussion. 

Housing and Urbanization in the United States /Fall 2014
Jennifer Molinsky
and James StockardHarvard Graduate School of Design
Syllabus
Course Web Site

This course examines housing as an object of policy and planning as it relates to urban form and issues of social concern. It is intended to provide those with an interest in urban policy and planning with a broad background on why housing matters and how its unique attributes a) give rise to certain policy and planning challenges and b) should shape how practitioners respond to these challenges.  As part of the course, students must complete two papers as part of a larger assignment on neighborhood development, change, planning, and policy. Students pick from among several Boston neighborhoods identified by the instructors. 

Lobbying: Theory, Practice, and Simulations
Mark Fagan
, Harvard Kennedy School
Last offered in: January 2013.  Will be offered in January 2014.
Syllabus

This intensive January intersession course provides the opportunity to understand the fundamentals of lobbying while learning first-hand about the lobbying efforts of environmental advocacy groups and groups representing the energy sector. Mornings (10:00-12:00) are devoted to discussing lobbying basics – history and current size/scale/scope, value proposition, strategies and toolkit, regulations, players, scandals, etc. – through academic and practioner readings. The understanding of lobbying is enhanced through lunchtime speakers – many of them local lobbyists and legislators. The afternoons (1:00-5:00) are spent learning about the advocacy efforts of local organizations and role playing lobbying meetings on their behalf. The lobbying sessions are conducted with former Massachusetts legislators to add realism to the experience. As part of that process the students (1) determine who to target and the message to deliver; (2) hold the session; and (3) provide follow-up materials. The simulations are videotaped and debriefed. To increase the understanding of the business of lobbying, the students develop a business plan for a lobbying firm, solicit seed funding, and develop a sales pitch for a target client.

Malden River Practicum: Mystic River Watershed Association (MyWRA)
Planning for Public Access and Amenities Along the Malden River
Robert "Rusty" Russell, Department of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning
Offered in: Spring 2013
Final Report
Malden River website created by students in the course

The Water: Systems, Science and Society (WSSS) Practicum Team of Spring 2013, an interdisciplinary group of graduate students from Tufts University, partnered with the Mystic River Watershed Association (MyRWA) in support of a campaign to re-envision the Malden River, a small tributary of the Mystic River, which separates Everett, Malden, and Medford. The campaign sought to highlight the potential of the Malden River as a public recreation amenity and natural resource through a multi-pronged, multimedia approach. The WSSS Team aided this process by creating a virtual tool kit to provide volunteers and resident leaders with an assortment of informational materials for use in a re-envisioning campaign. The tool kit, which was provided via a strategic memo to MyRWA, synthesized key terms and community organizing strategies, reviewed case studies, discussed challenges in community-based environmental protection, and offered recommendations for improving group capacity. The WSSS Team also created a website that showcases the many deliverables that were produced throughout the semester, including interviews with local residents, a movie trailer to attract attention to a previous documentary film titled “The Malden River: Past, Present and Potential,” and maps, posters, pamphlets and flyers that were created to promote public engagement and provide education regarding the Malden River. 

Philanthropy and Public Problem-Solving
Christine W. Letts and Jim Bildner, Harvard Kennedy School
Offered in: Spring 2013
Syllabus

This course is intended for students of Harvard College and Harvard Kennedy School to explore the role of the nonprofit sector and philanthropy in public problem-solving. The students had a unique experiential opportunity associated with this course. The Once Upon a Time foundation has provided a gift of grant money that the students gave to nonprofits. The courses used the greater Boston area as the focus for learning about public problem-solving and for the grants. The reason for this is to explicitly ground the grantmaking in the Harvard environment and to limit the universe for analysis for the assignments.

Policy Planning and Program Development (Practicum I and II)
Michael P. Johnson, Mark Warren and Others; Department of Public Policy and Public Affairs, McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies, University of Massachusetts, Boston
Offered Annually
Syllabus from the 2012-2013 Academic Year
Syllabus from the 2008-2009 Academic Year

A capstone course to the core curriculum for doctoral students in public policy and public affairs at UMass Boston’s McCormack School, this course teaches doctoral students how to solve problems identified by real-world "client" organizations.  Students produce research reports and other documents that not only can help practitioners to improve their planning and operations to materially benefit the lives of people and their neighborhoods but also are potentially presentable at scholarly conferences and publishable in peer-reviewed academic journals.  Previous clients for the course have included the Massachusetts Association of Community Development Corporations and LIFT-Boston, an affiliate of the national LIFT organization, a volunteer driven social service organization that seeks to combat poverty and expand opportunity.

Revitalizing Urban Main Streets
Karl Seidman and Susan Silberberg, Department of Urban Studies and Planning, MIT
Offered in: Spring 2013
Click here for a link to the course website.
Click here for a link to materials about the 2003 class, which focused on Mission Hill and Egleston Square.
Click here for a link to materials about the  2005 class, which focused on Hyde/Jackson Square and on Roslindale Square.

This workshop explores the integration of economic development and physical planning interventions to revitalize urban commercial districts. It includes an overview of the causes of urban business district decline, revitalization challenges, and the strategies to address them; the planning tools used to understand and assess urban Main Streets from both physical design and economic development perspectives; and the policies, interventions, and investments used to foster urban commercial revitalization. Students apply the theories, tools and interventions discussed in class to preparing a formal neighborhood commercial revitalization plan for a client business district.  In previous years, students have focused on such areas as Mission Hill, Egleston Square, Roslindale Square, and Hyde-Jackson Square.

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Sociology

Boston's People and Neighborhoods
Don Gillis, Sociology Department, Boston University
Offered in: Summer 2012
Syllabus
Article on the course from
BU Today

How are we to understand Boston, both as a place with buildings, roads, sewers, statues and the like and a cultural creation, a place with all kinds of different people, institutions, organizations and neighborhoods?  To answer this question students in this course read about the physical and social development of the city and its neighborhoods, the various groups that have settled here, later left and new groups that took their place and how they get along (or don’t). Students visited several neighborhoods, heard from Boston leaders and had an opportunity to do a little historical digging by reading about Boston from old newspaper stories. The course was based upon several overriding themes including Boston’s social history, neighborhood history and change and key issues (race and education among them). Films about Boston were shown and students took several field trips.

Neighborhood Effects and the Social Order of the City
Robert Sampson, Sociology Department, Harvard University
Offered in: Spring 2013

Ideas about order and disorder have driven debates about the city for over a century. After reviewing classic approaches we examine contemporary research on neighborhood inequality, “broken-windows” and crime, racial segregation, influences of ethnic diversity and immigration, urban social networks, the symbolic meanings of disorder, and competing visions for the uses of public space. As part of the curriculum, students conduct field-based observations drawing upon cutting-edge methods employed by urban sociologists to understand the workings of the modern city.

Reinventing Boston
David LuberoffChristopher Winshipand Robert Sampson; Sociology Department, FAS, Harvard UniversityMost recently offered in: Spring 2014
Syllabus and Reading List
Article on the course from Harvard Magazine
Video
 of Chris Winship talking about the course

Using a combination of guest speakers, readings about cities and neighborhoods in general, and Boston in particular, this course helped students better understand Boston specifically, and also develop a better understanding and appreciation of the challenges facing American cities in the 21st century. A particularly important component of the course is a series of assignments that has students visit and observe some of the City's neighborhoods.

Visualizing and Analyzing Social Patterns in Greater Boston
Dan O'Brien, Sociology Department, Harvard University
Government/Community Partners: City of Boston's Department of Information and Technology, other City agencies
Offered in: Fall 2012
Syllabus

This course introduces students to the skills necessary to work with spatial data, including the use of ArcGIS 10.0 and tools for analyzing spatial statistics. The course focuses on community-level variation in the greater Boston metropolitan area, having students learn while working with current data provided by researchers and City agencies.

Seminar in Urban Sociology: Social Boundaries and Urban Marginalities
Liza Weinstein, Sociology Department, Northeastern University
Offered in: Fall 2012
Syllabus

This urban sociology seminar explores the modern urban experience with a focus on social boundaries--the symbolic and physical walls that divide urban space along class lines, and those of race and ethnicity and gender and sexuality. In each section of the course, students apply the topics, themes, and analytical concepts to a specific area of inquiry about the Boston region. Specifics about these "Boston Urban Lab" assignments are provided in the syllabus.

The Sociology of Boston
Catherine S. Bueker, Sociology Department, Emmanuel College
Offered in: Spring 2010
Syllabus

This course was a senior seminar designed to pull together the many sociological theories and concepts covered in various courses, through the prism of Boston.  The overarching question to which students repeatedly returned is whether Boston, Massachusetts could be Any City, U.S.A. From education to politics to sports, students studied various institutions have encouraged, mirrored, and at times, altered the city of Boston, and how the city has altered them. Readings for this course were both theoretical and empirical in nature. Additionally, students went on a series of field trips to various locations tied to the readings and discussions throughout the course of the semester.

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Urban Planning and Design

Boston Urban Seminar
Don Gillis, Department of City Planning and Urban Affairs, Metropolitan College, Boston University
Offered in: Spring 2012
Syllabus
Enrique SilvaDepartment of City Planning and Urban Affairs, Metropolitan College, Boston University
Offered in: Spring 2011
Syllabus

How are we to understand Boston, both as a place with buildings, roads, sewers, statues and the like and a cultural creation, a place with all kinds of different people, institutions, organizations and neighborhoods? To answer this question, students read about the physical and social development of the city and its neighborhoods, the various groups that have settled here, later left and new groups that took their place and how they get along (or don‘t). Students visited several neighborhoods and had an opportunity to do a little historical digging by reading about Boston from old newspaper stories. The course was based upon several overriding themes including Boston‘s physical (planning) and neighborhood social history.

The Boston Urban Symposium: Planning Boston’s Harbor Islands
Proposals for a Revision of the Boston Harbor Islands General Management Plan
Enrique Silva, Department of City Planning and Urban Affairs, Metropolitan College, Boston University 
Offered in: Spring 2013
Syllabus

The Boston Urban Symposium is a thematic symposium, required for students in the City Planning and Urban Affairs programs that each year examines one issue in depth.  In Spring 2013, the symposium students advised the Boston Harbor Islands Partnership on future plans for the Boston Harbor Islands park system, a collection 30 historic and geologically distinctive islands.  Based on a comprehensive analysis of global, national, local and institutional trends relevant to the effective stewardship of the Boston Harbor Islands, students produced an Advisory Plan for the islands that identified key sections of the 2002 master plan for the islands that require immediate attention.   

Community Growth and Land Use Planning Practicum
Terry S. Szold and Susan Silberberg, Department of Urban Studies and Planning, MIT
Offered in: Fall 2013 and prior years
Syllabus
Click here
for current course website
Click here for course website for previous years

This workshop explores the techniques, processes, and professional skills required to effectively manage growth and land use change at the local, regional, and state level of government. A major focus of the workshop involves student work on a client-based land use planning projects in Massachusetts’ communities. In Fall 2013 students will focus on Somerville.  In prior years they have focused on Newton (2010), Lowell (2005, 2007, 2008, and 2009), Medford (2006), and Belmont (2004). 

A Cybernetic View of Studio
Paul Cote
, Graduate School of Design, Harvard University
Offered in: Fall 2010
Materials available 
here.

This course used development in the South Boston Seaport area as an example case for students to learn GIS and to encapsulate their research and design ideas into sharable models that engage the web in many ways. 

Designing Urban Space
Madhu C. Dutta-Koehler, Department of City Planning and Urban Affairs, Metropolitan College, Boston University
Offered in Fall 2012
Syllabus

An introductory discourse on the evolution of urban form and issues in contemporary urban design this course opened with an exploratory urban design study of an area in Boston so that students could acquire common ‘hands on’ understanding for researching, analyzing and interpreting the city.  For their final assignment, students had to define and strategically solve identified urban design issues in a specific area within the city of Boston.

First Semester Core Urban Planning Studio
Judith Grant Long, Kathy Spiegelman, and Ana Gelabert-Sanchez, Harvard Graduate School of Design
Offered in Fall 2013
Syllabus
Course web page

The first semester core studio of the Master of Urban Planning program introduces students to the fundamental knowledge and technical skills used by urban planners to create, research, analyze, and implement plans and projects for the built environment. The studio uses the City of Boston as the students' planning laboratory and students are expected to understand the city through the lenses of planning elements such as demographics, economic attributes, market forces, and public and private stakeholder interests, all of which shape the city and inform decisions about land use, development, and infrastructure. The studio is organized into four parts, each representing a fundamental stage of the urban planning process.  Part 1 explores the importance of ideas as the basis for urban planning. Students are exposed to the power of ideas as reflected in the kind of city Boston is today. An emphasis is placed on identifying sources of creative thinking, how ideas are expressed, and how they link to urban planning outcomes.  Part 2 explores research skills and analytic tools used by urban planners to understand the built environment. Part 3 explores the making of plans for the built environment. Using the creative and research skills developed in Parts 1 and 2 of the studio, students prepare functional urban plans, addressing land use, related building types, infrastructure requirements, open space needs, and other aspects of physical plans.  Part 4 focuses on the strategies that planners use to implement their ideas.

Fundamentals of Geographical Information Systems
Paul Cote, Graduate School of Design, Harvard University
Offered in: Fall 2012
Click here for more information on the course
Click here for tutorial datasets from the course

This introductory GIS course focused on Boston and surrounding cities and towns. All of the weekly labs used a Boston GIS data, which included examples of many types of data. As the course unfolds, students engage the Boston-based dataset with a progression of geoprocessing models.

Gateway Cities Field Study
David Barron, Harvard Law School; Ann Forsyth, Department of Urban Planning and Design, Harvard Graduate School of Design; and Nicolas Retsinas, Harvard Business School 
Offered in: Spring 2013
Syllabus

In this course, students from Harvard Business School, Harvard Law School and Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, teamed up to work on interdisciplinary projects related to the redevelopment in some of greater Boston’s Gateway Cities, former industrial cities that experienced hard economic times but now are receiving renewed attention from policymakers to see how they can be redeveloped to make them important, successful places for the 21st Century. In the course, the student teams partnered with state, local and community representatives to work on specific redevelopment projects and policies.

“GreenHouse” Residential Neighborhood Plan
James Buckley and Patricia Molina Costa, Department of Urban Studies and Planning, MIT
Last offered in Spring 2012
Syllabus

This studio course explored ways to improve housing quality and affordability, achieve energy savings, and increase transportation access at a neighborhood scale in the form of a local “GreenHouse” plan for neighborhood sustainability.  (A “GreenHouse” plan is one that applies global concerns about climate change, sustainability, and equity at a local level; it seeks to cultivate a fertile environment for healthy, equitable community growth.) In cooperation with a local client, course participants defined the terms of sustainability for a specific neighborhood in Dorchester and then designed an appropriate framework for action for the target area focusing on existing and future housing needs, community services, transit connections, and energy policy. While emphasizing the local perspective, coursework incorporated opportunities to draw on and inform federal, state, and private urban development policies. 

Housing and Urbanization in the United States /Fall 2014
Jennifer Molinsky
 and James StockardHarvard Graduate School of Design
Syllabus
Course Web Site

This course examines housing as an object of policy and planning as it relates to urban form and issues of social concern. It is intended to provide those with an interest in urban policy and planning with a broad background on why housing matters and how its unique attributes a) give rise to certain policy and planning challenges and b) should shape how practitioners respond to these challenges.  As part of the course, students must complete two papers as part of a larger assignment on neighborhood development, change, planning, and policy. Students pick from among several Boston neighborhoods identified by the instructors. 

Intro to Geographical Information Systems for Urban and Environmental Analysis
Barbara Parmenter, Department of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning, Tufts University
Offered in: Fall 2012
Course website

In this introductory GIS course, many students complete final projects that focus on Boston, using data provided by the City, MassGIS, the Census, and others.  Some past student projects are on display here.

Networked Urbanism
Belinda Tato and Jose Luis VallejoGraduate School of Design, Harvard University
Offered in: Fall 2012
Course description
Course blog

This studio brings an alternative to the traditional way of designing cities from a bird’s eye view, and a single designer’s perspective. It not only examines the physical dimension of the city, but also its social processes.  Participants are challenged to develop designs that reconcile the existing physical conditions -that respond to lifestyles from the past- with the emerging needs of citizens through network design thinking.  Click here for information about some projects from the 2010 course. 

Malden River Practicum: Mystic River Watershed Association (MyRWA)
Planning for Public Access and Amenities Along the Malden River
Robert "Rusty" Russell, Department of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning
Offered in: Spring 2013
Final Report
Malden River website created by students in the course

The Water: Systems, Science and Society (WSSS) Practicum Team of Spring 2013, an interdisciplinary group of graduate students from Tufts University, partnered with the Mystic River Watershed Association (MyRWA) in support of a campaign to re-envision the Malden River, a small tributary of the Mystic River, which separates Everett, Malden, and Medford. The WSSS Team created a virtual tool kit to provide volunteers and resident leaders with an assortment of informational materials for use in a re-envisioning campaign. The WSSS Team also created a website that showcases the many deliverables that were produced throughout the semester. 

Planning and Development on the East Boston Waterfront
Alex Krieger with Matthew Kiefer and Lawrence Curtis, Graduate School of Design, Harvard University
Offered in Fall 2013
Course web page

This studio explores the use of both private investment and public action to solve an important planning/urban design problem: how to fulfill long-standing community aspirations to bring housing and other active uses to the East Boston waterfront. In addition to developing a physical planning concept for the East Boston waterfront, the studio explores the use of public sector tools to achieve that vision through the engine of market-oriented development. These tools could include carrots and sticks – exactions, density bonuses, infrastructure funding, development incentives, and direct development by Massport, a public agency charged with port development. Development feasibility is a key area of inquiry. The studio may include short exploratory trips to urban waterfront developments such as in Toronto, Brooklyn and Philadelphia.



Planning and the Development Process
John Weis, Department of City Planning and Urban Affairs, Metropolitan College, Boston University
Offered in: Fall 2012
Syllabus
Final Project

This course examines the interface between the private and public sectors in the land development process and the different skills and tools required for each. For their final projects, students had to prepare either a strategic plan for Dudley Square or propose a project for the Blair Lot and former police station in Dudley Square.

Revitalizing Urban Main Streets
Karl Seidman and Susan Silberberg, Department of Urban Studies and Planning, MIT
Offered in: Spring 2013
Click here for a link to the course website.
Click here for a link to materials about the 2003 class, which focused on Mission Hill and Egleston Square.
Click here for a link to materials about the  2005 class, which focused on Hyde/Jackson Square and on Roslindale Square.

This workshop explores the integration of economic development and physical planning interventions to revitalize urban commercial districts. It includes an overview of the causes of urban business district decline, revitalization challenges, and the strategies to address them; the planning tools used to understand and assess urban Main Streets from both physical design and economic development perspectives; and the policies, interventions, and investments used to foster urban commercial revitalization. Students apply the theories, tools and interventions discussed in class to preparing a formal neighborhood commercial revitalization plan for a client business district.  In previous years, students have focused on such areas as Mission Hill, Egleston Square, Roslindale Square, and Hyde-Jackson Square.

Second Semester Core Urban Planning Studio: Implementing Master Plan Ideas in Malden
Ann Forsythe, Daniel D’oca, and Katherine Madden, Graduate School of Design, Harvard University
Offered In Spring 2013.
Syllabus

Building on a first-semester core course in which urban planning students learned the basics of plan making in several places, this course focused on a real project – developing a master plan for downtown Malden – in ways that gave students the opportunity to interact with the public, explore specific topics, and present work in a way that were relevant to non-planners. The class was the second part of a three-phase process funded through a federal Sustainable Communities grant. In Phase 1, which was carried out in the fall of 2012, a team of students working with Ann Forsyth prepared a background report on and compiled data about Malden. In Phase 2, students in the studio engaged with the public and explored key topics in order to develop an implementable plan and to present that plan at a public forum and exhibit. In Phase 3, the Metropolitan Area Planning Council has been using the students’ work as it prepares a new plan for the city.

Site and Urban Systems Planning
Eran Ben-Joseph, Department of Urban Studies and Planning, MIT
Last Offered in: Spring 2010
Click here for course website from 2010

The course addressed the range of practical approaches involved in evaluating and designing site systems within the context of urban, natural and cultural systems. During the semester, students work with a client on a specific project. In 2010, they worked with the city of Boston on one major design and planning project aim at providing specific ideas for the construction and implementation of the City’s bicycle plan components and Complete Streets Initiative. Students produced a final report titled “Mode Shift: Rethinking Boston’s Biking Streets.”  In 2006, they carried out a similar project on the more than 700-acre Weston Nurseries site in Hopkinton (more than five percent of that town’s land area).

Skills and Techniques in Planning
Enrique Silva, Department of City Planning and Urban Affairs, Metropolitan College, Boston University
Offered in: Spring 2013
Syllabus

This workshop class introduced new planners to specific skills and techniques to help them achieve community and urban planning goals. To ground the different modules of skills and techniques, the workshop required that all students work on a single planning project selected by the instructor. In Spring 2013 the project was the Spencer Whitfield Open Space Project that is being developed jointly by the Trust for Public Land (TPL) and the Codman Square Neighborhood Development Corporation (CSNDC). 

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Women, Gender, and Sexuality 

Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality 1322: Theory Makes Practice Makes Theory: Feminist Fieldwork and Activity Based Learning
Keridwen Luis
Concentration in Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University
Offered in Spring 2014
Syllabus

This course brings service work and community advocacy together with critical thinking at the complex intersection between feminist theory and practice. Participants do community service with an organization in greater Boston and/or fieldwork in greater Boston, and classroom discussions focus on feminist, queer, and intersectional analyses incorporating student internship experiences with the readings.

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