Housing and Urbanization in Global Cities

The subject of Housing and Urbanization in Global Cities examines housing policy and planning in urban societies around the world and especially in the Global South. Through slide presentations, discussions, guest lectures, texts, and exercises, we examine the dynamic growth of cities; the ideological impulses to combat slum conditions and provide mass housing; the resulting anti-slum and housing programs; the means of financing such programs; and the effects of design and planning on people and their communities.

The first part of the course is devoted to history and theory. We examine the historical emergence of the twin problems of slums and housing in Europe during its era of intense urbanization; the export of Western housing and anti-slum policies to the developing world; the furious debate over the nature of informal settlements in the Global South; and the fundamental concepts of land use and housing policy.

In the second part of the course, we take up the practical application of housing policies in different national environments around the globe. Using the cases of Bogotá, Mumbai, Johannesburg, and Beijing, we study the ways private developers, planners, designers, non-government organization officers, and government officials work within local systems of land use, law, and finance to respond to informal settlements and produce homes for people. Students will work in teams to evaluate specific housing programs in the first three cities and in the fourth, Beijing, to propose a planning strategy to improve particular sites.

This course helps prepare students for international planning and design studios, housing studios, and courses on housing or social policy in general. It will appeal to graduate school designers, planners, and public policy students interested in social engagement and the diverse methods of producing low-income housing in global cities. Other than graduate school enrollment, there are no prerequisites.

Jointly Offered Course: HKS SUP-662