First Semester Core Urban Planning Studio introduces students to the fundamental knowledge and technical skills used by urban planners to investigate, analyze, create, and implement plans and projects.
In this studio Boston provides the location for developing skills and strategies to address and understand the local in its wider context. Planners need to engage the particularities of districts, neighborhoods, towns, cities, and regions as well as their wider contexts.
The course focuses on four key challenges of contemporary urban planningâ€”equity, climate, health, and accessibility. While the US legacy of white supremacy raises questions of great urgency, the question of how planning can help make places more just and equitable is an enduring concern in planning. Anthropogenic climate change is challenging planners to mitigate its effects and adapt to changes already underway, while also addressing other environmental challenges. The COVID pandemic has highlighted the continuing challenge of infectious diseases even as non-communicable diseases and injuries remain major causes of death amenable to prevention through changes to the built environment. Finally, towns and cities exist to help people gain access to nearby resources such as jobs, services, and cultural opportunities. Changes in technologies have altered whether one needs to be mobile to have accessibility; whether these changes will further equity is an open question. There are no easy answers; the critical and creative skills of the urban planner are being called upon now more than ever to advance the notion of a just society.
Planners address messy situations where the problems are disputed, and the solutions contested. They figure out the important questions to answer, identify relevant information, listen to multiple voices, propose strategies, communicate ideas, and revise proposals. In this studio students gain experience engaging with complex and unclear situations in ways that can lead toward plausible and ethical approaches to addressing them. The studio teaching approach is one of creating a setting for producing learning rather than delivering instruction about exactly what you should do. Students also experiment with how to effectively communicate with others at different stages of a planning process.