Graduate City and Regional Planning Courses

Introduction to City Planning: History, Theory and Practice
In the first two-thirds of the semester, this class explores the history of city and regional planning, through readings, lectures, discussions, and field trips. Professor Ammon’s section focuses mainly on Anglo-American planning history, while Professor Vitiello’s section is more international in scope. The two sections meet together for the last third of the course, when lectures by professors from the Weitzman School offer a broad introduction to contemporary planning practice.
Quantitative Planning Analysis Methods
Introduction of methods in analyzing demographic conditions, land use and housing trends, employment and business changes, community and neighborhood development. Focus on using spreadsheet models and data analysis for local and neighborhood planning.
Urban Development and Infrastructure Finance
This core course will introduce students to alternative approaches and methods to financing and valuing public and private urban development projects and programs. Among the topics to be covered are: (1) How global capital markets work and allocate capital; (2) Yield curves and interest rates; (3) Bond yields and valuation; (4) Sources and formats of municipal borrowing and debt; (5) Bond issuance and under-writing; (6) Real estate debt sources and underwriting; (6) Structuring real estate deals and capital stacks; (7) Infrastructure and redevelopment financing techniques; (9) Transportation capital investment financing; (10) Structuring public-private partnership deals; (11) Project finance in developing countries; and, (12) Emerging issues in urban development finance.
Law of Planning and Urban Development
Overview of the constitutional and legal principles framing planning and urban development.
Modeling Geographical Objects
Introduction to the use of geographic information systems (GIS) in urban and regional planning. Reviews the conceptual foundations and practical application of GIS. Students achieve proficiency in ArcGISView. Professor Tomlin’s course will focus more on spatial analysis while Professor Hillier’s will explore the construction of map-based narratives.
Site Planning
This course introduces students to the practice of site planning. Skills and methods examined in the course include observation of the physical and community environment; physical and environmental site inventorying and analysis; analysis of alternative site programming and uses; site design processes and strategyl and the creation of site plans and development standards. Methods of community participation and collaboration with other disciplines will be explored. The spring version of this course differs from the fall version in its orientation atoward urban designers and/or those with prior design backgrounds and skills.
Planning by Numbers
This class emphasizes the theory, practice, and use of statistics as applied to planning and policy problems and data. Starting with a review of basic descriptive statistics and measures of association, this course will introduce students to the regression techniques, including multiple regression analysis and logistical and probabilistic models for categorical data; data mining techniques; measures of spatial autocorrelation, and time-series modeling; and causal inference techniques, including structural equation modeling (SEM). A basic familiarity with descriptive and inferential statistics at the upper-division undergraduate level is expected at the beginning of the class. This course uses the popular, free, and open source statistical software R.
Negotiation and Conflict Resolution
This course builds on approaches to interpersonal negotiation to learn perspectives and methods for working through problems and challenges. In the first part of the course students develop a foundation based on understanding basic principles of bargaining and negotiation from two perspectives - information based and principal based bargaining - and then move to focus on concepts, theories and practices that are concerned with building consensus and finding common ground. This latter notion, "common ground" refers to the values, beliefs, concerns or perspectives that people hold in common. At the same time, just holding values in common is not sufficient to guarantee people will act on those values, etc. in the same, or even similar ways. Thus, we will look at how to move from talk to productive action.
Introduction to Graphics for Urban Design
This course introduces students to visual literacy and the use of a variety of software packages. Through a series of assignments and in class discussions participants develop a visual vocabulary and skills to function in and between AutoCAD, Adobe Creative Suite, and 3D modeling software.
Planning Problems Workshop
Application of planning skills to problems experienced by selected neighborhoods. Students work in teams to develop solutions.
Planning Studio
Intensive study of a selected planning topic. Teams of students work with clients to develop alternative scenarios and produce plan and implementation strategies. Multiple presentations required.
Introduction to Community and Economic Development
Introduction to the theories and practices of urban economic and community development with a focus on improving opportunity and quality of life in low-income communities. Provides foundation for advanced courses in real estate and economic development finance, housing policy, downtown and neighborhood revitalization, workforce development and metropolitan regional development.
Techniques of Urban Economic Development
This course is about how planners act to catalyze and support economic well-being in cities and regions. Students in the course examine the effectiveness of alternative strategies and approaches to economic development and practice a variety of specific economic development policy and finance techniques. The semester is divided into three modules. In part 1, students build knowledge about how theories of growth, specialization, agglomeration and innovation inform (and fail to inform) economic development strategies. In part 2, they develop a working understanding of economic development finance, completing exercises on tax increment finance, tax-credit financed development and “double bottom line” lending and equity investment. In part 3, they review best practices in the formulation and negotiation of location incentives and subsidies, examine “growth with equity” policies, and explore the technical and political details of economic impact analysis.
Metropolitan Food Systems
This course introduces students to the planning and development of metropolitan food systems. Major topics include regional planning and policy; sustainable agriculture; food access and distribution; and markets. The class includes a mix of lectures, discussion, and field trips; and students will work on real-world projects in Philadelphia. Ultimately, the course aims to develop students' broad knowledge of food systems planning in the global North and South, with an emphasis on community and economic development strategies for sustainable food systems and food security.
Readings in Race, Place and Poverty
In recent years, long-disinvested cities have become the site of renewed investment, population growth, and economic development in a phenomenon often described as gentrification. Nonetheless, socioeconomic inequality between races, ethnicities, genders, and places within the larger metropolitan area continue to persist, suggesting that a rising tide does not raise all boats. Planners must grapple with these issues of inequality and inequity, particularly the implementation of plans and policies that may in theory provide benefits to all, but in practice continue to accumulate benefits for a select few. This course examines the construction of race, the making of a place, and the persistence of poverty in racialized places in the city. This course will engage in a critical discussion of the aforementioned themes, such that the normative notions of race, capitalism, urbanism, gender, power, and space are upended to privilege more marginalized perspectives of these processes.
The Politics of Housing & Urban Development
This class will examine affordable housing policy in the United States with a focus on current policy and implementation. Presentations by the professor will be augmented by visiting professionals. Guest presentations will offer students insights into housing policy as viewed by policy makers, developers, lawyers, and planning consultants. The primary structure of the course will be a mix of these presentations and seminar discussion; students are expected to offer opinions as well as supportive and responsive commentary.
Migration and Development
Immigration is among the most important yet controversial forces shaping cities, regions, and neighborhoods. The diversity of immigrant and receiving communities means that the dynamics and impacts of migration are varied and complex. This course examines the development of immigrant and receiving communities in the United States. It surveys public policy and community and economic development practices related to migration at the local, regional, national, and trans-national scale. Class readings, discussions, and visits to Philadelphia's immigrant neighborhoods explore themes including labor markets, housing experiences, political mobilization, civil society, cultural preservation, and the built environment. The first half of the course surveys migration and community formation among a broad range of ethnic groups in different parts of the city and suburbs, mainly through history, sociology, and geography; the second half focuses on specific policy and community and economic development initiatives. Ultimately, the class aims to provide students with 1) a broad knowledge of immigration and its impacts on cities and regions; 2) an in-depth understanding of urban policies and institutions working on immigration in U.S. cities; and 3) familiarity with community and economic development strategies for migrant and receiving communities.
Community and Economic Development Practicum
This practicum involves a weekly mixture of lecture and seminar course-time with applied problem solving for real-world clients. It will be a second-year course focused on organizational development, business planning, and other strategic planning techniques that complement the physical planning focus of the Penn Planning Workshop and Studio. Required of students in the CED concentration.
Introduction to Land Use Planning
Exploration of the methods and tools for managing land use and shaping the built environment. Presents how to create a successful Comprehensive Plan, Zoning Ordinance, Subdivision Regulations, Capital Improvements Progam, and design guidelines. Also, presents functional area, regional, and state-level plans.
Introduction to Environmental Planning & Policy
Overview of federal programs for protecting air quality, water quality, and endangered species along with managing climate change, solid waste, toxics, energy, transportation, and remediating brownfields in an overall sustainability framework. State-level, local government, and NGO efforts to protect the environment are also explored as are green infrastructure and green cities.
Water Policy & Planning
Urbanization, climate change, aging infrastructure, pollution, and poor management are all contributing to urban water crises in cities around the globe. This course examines the systems and policies that comprise urban water, while looking for integrative, flexible solutions. The course proceeds in three parts. In the first two weeks we review water system basics, ensuring a broad level of understanding of the systems and tensions that comprise urban water. In weeks 3-10, we examine key concepts and arguments in water management today. In the final weeks, we focus on water management challenges of selected cities around the globe.
Sustainable Cities
This reading-intensive discussion seminar reviews the history and future of sustainable urban development, primarily focusing on cities in the United States. We examine the theory behind the sustainable cities movement, charting the evolution from green cities, to smart growth, to landscape urbanism, to resilience. We critically evaluate contemporary examples of sustainability planning. We discuss sustainability initiatives driven by regulation, incentives, technological advances, and social norms. Finally, we ask what sustainability means today.
Introduction to Property Development
This course is designed to acquaint students with the fundamental skills and techniques of real estate property development. It is designed as a first course for anyone interested in how to be a developer, and as a foundation for further courses in urban development and real estate.
Progressive Development
Using a case study approach, this course will teach students how to plan, develop, and finance a variety of progressive real estate development forms including affordable, senior, and workforce housing; transit-oriented development; urban mixed-use development; Using a case study approach, this course will teach students how to plan, develop, and finance a variety of progressive real estate development forms including affordable, senior, and workforce housing; transit-oriented development; urban mixed-use development;
Downtown Development
The course will provide an overview of the changing role of downtowns and commercial centers, how and why they have evolved, diversified and been redeveloped and who are the various public and private actors that are helping them reposition themselves in a new regional and global context. There will be a strong focus on implementation, on how things get done, on the role of business improvement districts, not-for-profit development corporations and local government in the United States, Canada and a few international cities.
Design and Development
This course will introduce designers and planners to practical methods of design and development for major real estate product types. Topics will include product archetypes, site selection and obtaining entitlements, basic site planning, programming, and conceptual and basic design principles. Project types will include, among others: Infill and suburban apartments, subdivision homes and master-planned communities, downtown office buildings and suburban office parks, all retail forms, campus and institutional projects. Two-person teams of developers and architects will present and discuss actual development projects.
Housing Policy
The government intervenes in housing markets in different ways and for different reasons. This course is designed to explore why the federal and local government in the U.S. intervene in housing markets and what forms these interventions take. Specifically, students will learn about:
• the mechanisms that drive both the supply and demand for housing;
• how U.S. housing policy has changed over time;
• factors that affect the production, distribution, and location of housing;
• the social and economic impact of housing on households and neighborhoods;
• the equity implications of housing policies
This course will place particular emphasis on low-income rental housing. By the end of this class students will have a firm understanding of U.S. housing policy and be able to engage in a meaningful debate about future challenges and opportunities in the U.S. housing market and the implications of different policy interventions. Ultimately, this course will provide students the conceptual tools necessary to evaluate, formulate, and implement housing policy.
Introduction to Transportation Planning
Survey of the technological and design aspects of urban transportation systems and land use patterns. Covers facilities operations, congestion, environmental concerns and policy debates revolving around mobility issues at the federal, state, and metropolitan levels.
Transportation Planning Methods
This course introduces students to the development and uses of the 4-step urban transportation model (trip generation-trip distribution-mode choice-traffic assignment) for community and metropolitan mobility planning. Using the VISUM transportation desktop planning package, students will learn how to build and test their own models, apply them to real projects, and critique the results.
Multi-Modal Transit Systems
The purpose of this course is to explore contemporary multimodal transportation systems, policy, planning, and practice through a series of comparative international case studies. Topics include innovative parking management in San Francisco, congestion charging in London, Metro investments in Mexico City, informal transportation in Indonesia, Bus Rapid Transit in Bogota, and bicycle infrastructure investments in Copenhagen. The course will also include one or more site visits to innovative multimodal transportation projects in the Philadelphia or New York City regions. By analyzing contemporary planning challenges and best practices, students will develop a better understanding of how the transportation system works and how to design and employ specific multimodal interventions and policies effectively.
Air Transportation Systems Planning
Air transportation is a fascinating multi-disciplinary area of transportation bringing together business, planning, engineering, and policy. In this course, we explore the air transportation system from multiple perspectives through a series of lessons and case studies. Topics will include airport and intercity multi-modal environmental planning, network design and reliability, air traffic management and recovery from irregular operations, airline operations, economics, and fuel, air transportation sustainability, and land use issues related to air transportation systems. This course will introduce concepts in economics and behavioral modeling, operations research, statistics, environmental planning, and human factors that are used in aviation and are applicable to other transportation systems. The course will emphasize learning through lessons, guest lecturers, case studies of airport development, and an individual group and research project.
Spatial Analysis and Planning
This course teaches advanced GIS functionality and spatial analysis in the realm of urban planning. The class focuses on real-world GIS applications and, in combination with introductory statistics, provides students a framework for understanding how to efficiently allocate limited resources across space. Specific applications include network analysis; retail site-suitability; point-processes; spatial housing market analysis; predictive modeling; remote sensing, land use planning and more.
Sensing the City
This course will teach students to design and build sensing installations that engage with real-time urban environmental stimuli. Using the Arduino microcontroller as a prototyping platform, students will write code and wire circuits, learn to select and implement available sensors, and generate raw environmental data. Students will populate databases and interpret data streams, and then create responsive interventions. Following the model of hacker spaces around the globe, we will collaboratively pose problems and find solutions, teaching and learning from one another.
Geospatial Software Design/Python
The purpose of this course is to equip students with a selected set of advanced tools and techniques for the development and customization of geospatial data-processing capabilities.
Spatial Statistics and Data
The goal of this course is to familiarize students with a number of statistical and data mining techniques commonly used for analyzing different types of urban data. The course will have two key parts: 1) regression analysis for urban data, and 2) identifying patterns in urban data. Where applicable, large data sets will be used to make students comfortable working with big volumes of data.
Data Wrangling and Visualization
Java Script Programming for Planning Applications
This course will introduce city planning, MUSA and design graduate students to Java and Javascript. Students will learn the logic and syntax of the Java programming language for use in simple web applications (Weeks 1 to 7); as well as how to program database and map-oriented web and desktop applications using Javascript (Weeks 8 to 14). The "hands-on" uses of Java and Javascript in urban planning applications will be emphasized. Students will hone their programming and applications development skills through a series of bi-weekly assignments.
Capstone Project/Advanced Topics in GIS
This course offers students an opportunity to work closely with faculty, staff, local practitioners, and each other on a capstone project that involves the development of a GIS and/or urban data management application.
Theory and Principles of Urban Design
This 2 CU studio-format course provides a theoretical, practical, and skill-based introduction to the practice of people-oriented urban design at multiple spatial levels, including the building group level, the street level, the community level, and the regional/environmental level.
Public Realm Studio
This intensive foundation studio focuses on the physical planning and design skills necessary in shaping the public realm. Students will undertake a series of targeted exercises that introduce them to project conceptualization, context analysis, programming, site planning, technical issues, and detailed design of public space in cities. Focusing on issues pertinent to local municipalities, students will work collaboratively and individually over the semester on design elements that cover a range of scales. Intellectual objectives within the studio include: the links between theory and practice, the development of principles to guide design, understanding associations between design and stakeholder-user interests, and exploring larger issues of sustainability and participation in design practice. Emphasis on the pragmatics of problem solving and implementation will be balanced with essential skills in visioning, critical thinking and design leadership.
Modeling Geographic Space
The major objective of this course is to explore the nature and use of image-based (as opposed to drawing-based) geographic information systems (GIS) for the analysis and synthesis of spatial patterns and processes. This course is open to all. Previous experience in GIS is not required.
Land Use and Environmental Modeling
Planners at every scale and of every type are increasingly using spatial data and models to analyze existing patterns, identify and parameterize key trends and urban processes, visualize alternative futures, and evaluate development impacts. In the first half of the course, students will gain experience using various GIS-based environmental planning models, including, among others: TR55 for analyzing parcel-level storm water runoff; HydroCad for analyzing watershed-level stream volumes, runoff, and water quality; and HAZUS for analyzing the potential damage impacts of floods, earthquakes, and hurricanes. In the second half of the course, students will learn how to develop their own urban growth models using R, as well as use CommunityViz to analyze the environmental, fiscal, and design impacts of proposed development scenarios. Note: A basic familiarity with ArcGIS is required.
Independent Study and Research
Independent study and research under faculty supervision.
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