Urban Governance and the Politics of Planning in the Developing World

This course starts from the premise that urban politics and governance arrangements shape the definition, form and practice of planning and therefore its outcomes. Using a focus on cities in the developing world, the course examines an array of governance structures (centralized versus decentralized institutions; local versus national states; participatory budgeting, etc.) and political conditions (democracy versus authoritarianism; neoliberal versus populist versus leftist party politics; social movements) that are relatively common to cities of the global south. In addition to assessing the impacts of these structures and conditions on urban policy formation and implementation, the course asks which governance arrangements and/or political contexts are more or less likely to produce equitable, inclusive, and sustainable urban environments. To address these questions, the course is structured around a comparative analysis of theories and cases that give us the basis for documenting the ways that politics affect urban policy and the built environment of the city more generally. The course’s critical approach to case studies and policy prescriptions will also prepare students to formulate relevant planning strategies in the future. Among a range of policy domains, special attention is paid to transportation, housing, mega-project development, municipal financing and disaster mitigation, with most examples drawn from Latin America, South Asia, and East Asia.