Graham Sustainability Institute

Infrastructure Planning in the US & Developing Countries

URP 573

Infrastructural networks (water, sewerage, electricity, information) are constitutive features of metropolitan life. In cities around the world, large numbers of urban residents lack access to basic infrastructure and services. Many city dwellers in developing countries do not have regular access to such basic amenities as piped water, sanitary toilet facilities, electricity, sewerage, paved roads, and policing). In the United States, urban infrastructures often break down, sometimes with disastrous consequences (Katrina and New Orleans, for example). The aim of this course is to explore the environmental and social impact of contemporary infrastructure planning. The basic premise is that cities are social products of transformed nature. City-building processes ‘make’ cities into hybrids of the natural and the social, the environmental and the cultural. This course takes a comparative perspective in examining infrastructure planning and in the US and developing countries. It addresses the following questions: 1. What current theoretical perspectives can assist us in understanding the relationship between cities and nature? 2. What are the driving forces behind infrastructure planning and delivery, and what are the causes for their uneven distribution? 3. What roles have urban planners and other stakeholders played in choosing between different approaches to addressing infrastructure needs of urban residents? The course will draw heavily on case studies from cities in Asia, Latin America, Africa, and the United States. The class will be conducted in a seminar format, and students will also engage in in-class debates on controversial issues, including the balance between centralized and decentralized approaches to infrastructure delivery, the privatization of basic social services, and the role of local and community-based approaches to infrastructure delivery. Students will also be required to write either one comprehensive term paper or several shorter ones. Students will also be required to do a presentation on a case study of a specific program, policy or project related to infrastructure.

Arch. and U.P. (Taubman) » Urban and Regional Planning
Winter 2018
Winter 2017
Winter 2020
Winter 2021