Department of Urban Studies & Planning

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How it Really Works: Planning, Funding, and Implementing Transportation Projects in the Real World
Jan/20 Thu 10:00AM–12:00PM

Have you ever wondered how transportation really works? (Have you ever wondered how ANYTHING really works?) Do you have strong feelings, or simply a passing interest? Come and join our discussion session! Everyone is welcome regardless of background or status -- we welcome a wide range of perspectives.

Transportation has never been more exciting: scooters, drones, autonomous vehicles, ridesharing, big data, climate change, energy, equity, economics. But actually making things happen requires an understanding of real-world decision-making, and considering these new developments in transportation gives us an opportunity to study the choices and constraints available to today's planners, all now further complicated by the uncertainties and changes posed by Covid-19 and shifting travel patterns. This session will offer a practice-oriented overview of the issues, players, and trends most relevant to contemporary transportation planning, featuring two MIT/DUSP alumni currently working in the field.

Pre-registration required:

IAP: Listening to Place
Jan/05 Wed 02:00PM–04:00PM
Jan/12 Wed 02:00PM–04:00PM
Jan/19 Wed 02:00PM–04:00PM

This is a three-day workshop that examines the history and use of recorded sound as a means to understand our relationship with the environment. Participants will develop both active listening and basic sound recording techniques in tandem, as interrelated tools of perception. We will discuss the relationship between objective and subjective listening as a lens for understanding how our dual role of participant/recorder determines the way we interact with the world.

The workshop will take place over three 2-hour sessions and will cover some basic aspects of the sound-recording and editing process as well as a conceptual framework with the aim of creating an audio portrait of a particular place, chosen by the participant. Participants should have access to an audio recorder, headphones and a computer for editing. Smartphones and earbuds are possible but not ideal. I am happy to discuss why and make recommendations for upgrades before or during the workshop.

Sessions will be in-person, in room 9-217 on three consecutive Wednesdays, from 2-4pm:

Wednesday, 1/5/22
Wednesday, 1/12/22
Wednesday, 1/19/22

IAP: Planning for Small Cities
Jan/10 Mon 12:30PM–03:00PM
Jan/11 Tue 08:00AM–03:00PM
Jan/24 Mon 12:30PM–03:00PM
Jan/25 Tue 08:00AM–03:00PM

NOTE: THE SITE VISITS WILL BE HELD IN THE SPRING ON DATES TBD. The meetings with municipal officials will be held as scheduled.

The growth of large metropolitan areas, unforeseen 50 years ago, is a major success story. However, that growth has had impacts on quality of life in these large areas. Issues of affordability, lack of sufficient transit and bicycle networks, and physical disparities between where jobs are being created and where workers live, all create challenges for cities like Boston, San Francisco, and Washington, DC.

This session will look at an emerging trend in urban development – the rise of the Small City. More than previous generations, Millennials are choosing to locate in these second- and third-tier cities as a way of balancing quality of life, employment opportunities, and the benefits of city amenities. These Small Cities – from larger ones such as Grand Rapids, MI, to smaller ones such as Portsmouth, NH – are faced with new planning opportunities and challenges as a result. How to make sure current residents can stay when new residents inevitably drive up the cost of housing and create competition for employment? What about social services and the opportunity faced by New Americans, who are also relocating to Small Cities? The pandemic and increases in working “wherever” appear to be driving this trend even more quickly.

We will meet virtually with officials and stakeholders from two sample communities – Salem, MA and Portland, ME – on two different weeks. In the Spring (date TBD) we will follow up with a walking site visit of each city to learn about how planning efforts have contributed to their evolution from failing 20th century cities to thriving 21st century destinations – and what challenges remain as these cities become more attractive places to live and visit.


Jeff Levine, Lecturer

Enrollment: Limited to 10: Advance sign-up required
Sign-up by 01/03

This class will consist of four sessions:

1/10 (12:30 to 3 pm.) – Salem virtual discussions with stakeholders

TBD (approximately 8 am. to 3 pm.) – Salem site visit

1/24 (12:30 to 3 pm.) – Portland (ME) virtual discussions with stakeholders

TBD (approximately 8 am. to 5 pm.) – Portland site visit”


Advance sign up required:

Sponsor(s): Urban Studies and Planning
Contact: Jeff Levine,