All Academic Programs

Urban Planning Outreach

Students in the MUP program engage with communities in a variety of ways, through:

Workshops and Studios
Internships and Summer Opportunities
Student Groups
Other Classes

Workshops and Studios

  • 2nd Semester Core Planning Studio engages with real world planning problems. In spring 2013 the studio has focused on creating a downtown plan for the City of Malden, an inner suburb with a vibrant immigrant community:
  • Option studios also do practical work, for example:

The Flexible Leviathan: Reconsidering Scale and Fixity in the Contemporary Metropolis (Spring 2013) seeks to produce a vision for Centro Oriente in Mexico City and examine the meaning of sustainable urbanism in large cities while also engaging the real world context of urban policy-making through urban planning and design interventions.

  •  Thesis Projects often focus on outreach work, for example:

Kate Balug (2011) looked at artistic practices as a mode of planning engagement in Dorchester and compared this with "standard" planning approaches.

Jessica Yurkofsky (2012) - conducted extensive interviews and engagement with LGBT senior communities in the Boston metro area as part of her thesis.

Internships and Summer Opportunities

Student Groups

  • GSD Green Design http://gsdgreendesign.blogspot.comis a platform to critically engage discourse of sustainability in the built environment while supporting other student groups’ sustainability efforts.
  • Harvard Urban Planning Organization organizes lectures and events and coordinates volunteer opportunities for planning students.

Volunteering (coordinated through HUPO)

  • The Esplanade Association works to improve the Esplanade in Boston.
  • Greater Boston Food Bank provides food for those in need.
  • Habitat for Humanity builds affordable housing in partnership with people in need.
  • (Park)ing Day is an annual event where community members transform metered parking spots into temporary parks.

Other Classes

Selected classes offering work with real clients:

  • Advanced Workshop in Participatory Urban Planning and Design (fall) allows students to work with community organizations from the Roxbury neighborhood and the City of Boston to develop proposals that have the potential to improve living conditions and respond to urgent community needs. The class is held in conjunction with students in the Kennedy School's Solving Problems Using Technology and in partnership with the Boston Mayor's Office of New Urban Mechanics.
  • Affordable and Mixed-Income Housing Development, Finance, and Management (spring) allows students to participate in the Affordable Housing Development Competition (AHDC), a development competition where interdisciplinary student teams primarily from Harvard and MIT work with either non-profit or for-profit clients to develop real affordable and/or mixed-income housing proposals for actual sites in the Greater Boston area.
  • Brownfields Practicum: Regeneration and Reuse of Brownfield Lands (fall) allows class members to apply general brownfields knowledge learned in class to particular challenges in the field on behalf the City of Somerville and gain hands-on experience in applied environmental and economic development research and analysis, community brownfield practices, and sustainability planning.
  • Creating Resilient Cities: Disaster Field Lab (spring) examines what is happening in New York City and encourage students to participate in the articulation of approaches to increase community resilience on the coast, especially after Hurricane Sandy. The course includes site visits and meetings with local stakeholders.
  • Field Studies in Real Estate, Planning & Urban Design: occur most semesters and involve students working on real-world problems in the US and abroad.
  • Gateway Cities (S) In this class Harvard Business School, Harvard Law School, and Graduate School of Design students team up working on interdisciplinary projects relating to the redevelopment of Gateway Cities, former industrial cities that experienced hard economic times in the wake of economic shifts but are receiving renewed attention from policymakers to see how they can be redeveloped to make them important, successful places for the 21st Century. In this field study, the interdisciplinary teams work on site specific projects by partnering with state, local and community representatives on ongoing redevelopment projects and policies.
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