This course explores the physical, ecological, technological, political, economic, and cultural implications of big plans and mega-urban landscapes in a global context. It uses local and international case studies to understand the process of making major changes to urban landscape and city fabric, and to regional landscape systems. It includes lectures by leading practitioners. The assignments consider planning and design strategies across multiple scales and time frames.
MIT Environment and Sustainability: Governance
Like so many of the big challenges taken on at MIT, environmental and sustainability issues demand an interdisciplinary perspective.
From declining fisheries to acute urban pollution to record-breaking global temperatures, the evidence of human impact on the environment continues to mount. And at the same time, the environment shapes us, as human society and institutions are built upon our connection to the weather, land, water, and other species. What can we learn from ecological systems and cycles? What solutions will allow people and the planet to thrive?
MIT scholars, students and alumni are working to understand and help us make progress toward a more sustainable and just world. This core mission draws upon all of the fields represented at MIT: not just science, engineering, and technology, but also the humanities, arts, economics, history, architecture, urban planning, management, policy, and more.
This OCW course collection is inspired by two interdisciplinary MIT programs. Many of the undergraduate courses fall within the undergraduate Environment and Sustainability Minor managed by MIT’s Environmental Solutions Initiative (ESI); the OCW course list employs the undergraduate minor’s four topic pillars. Many of the graduate-level courses are part of the MIT Sloan School of Management Sustainability Certificate curriculum.
In recent years, the redistribution of risk has created conditions for natural and technological disasters to become more widespread, more difficult to manage, and more discriminatory in their effects. Policy and planning decision-makers frequently focus on the impact that human settlement patterns, land use decisions, and risky technologies can have on vulnerable populations. However, to ensure safety and promote equity, they also must be familiar with the social and political dynamics that are present at each stage of the disaster management cycle. Therefore, this course will provide students with: An understanding of the breadth of factors that give rise to disaster vulnerability; and A foundation for assessing and managing the social and political processes associated with disaster policy and planning.
This course examines the choices and constraints regarding sources and uses of energy by households, firms, and governments through a number of frameworks to describe and explain behavior at various levels of aggregation. Examples include a wide range of countries, scope, settings, and analytical approaches. This course is one of many OCW Energy Courses, and it is a core subject in MITâ€™s underGraduate / Professional Energy Studies Minor. This Institute-wide program complements the deep expertise obtained in any major with a broad understanding of the interlinked realms of science, technology, and social sciences as they relate to energy and associated environmental challenges.
This course explores the theoretical and empirical perspectives on individual and industrial demand for energy, energy supply, energy markets, and public policies affecting energy markets. It discusses aspects of the oil, natural gas, electricity, and nuclear power sectors and examines energy tax, price regulation, deregulation, energy efficiency and policies for controlling emission.
Energy, Environment and Society is an opportunity for first-year students to make direct contributions to energy innovations at MIT and in local communities. The class takes a project-based approach, bringing student teams together to conduct studies that will help MIT, Cambridge and Boston to make tangible improvements in their energy management systems. Students will develop a thorough understanding of energy systems and their major components through guest lectures by researchers from across MIT and will apply that knowledge in their projects. Students are involved in all aspects of project design, from the refinement of research questions to data collection and analysis, conclusion drawing and presentation of findings. Each student team will work closely with experts including local stakeholders as well as leading technology companies throughout the development and implementation of their projects. Projects in this course center on renewable energy and energy efficiency.
This seminar introduces students to basic principles of environmental justice and presents frameworks for analyzing and addressing inequalities in the distribution of environmental benefits and burdens from the perspectives of social science, public policy, and law.
This course explores the proper role of government in the regulation of the environment. It will help students develop the tools to estimate the costs and benefits of environmental regulations. These tools will be used to evaluate a series of current policy questions, including: Should air and water pollution regulations be tightened or loosened? What are the costs of climate change in the U.S. and abroad? Is there a "Race to the Bottomâ€ in environmental regulation? What is "sustainable developmentâ€? How do environmental problems differ in developing countries? Are we running out of oil and other natural resources? Should we be more energy efficient? To gain real world experience, the course is scheduled to include a visit to the MIT cogeneration plant. We will also do an in-class simulation of an air pollution emissions market.
This class is designed to expose you to the cycles of disasters, the roots of emergency planning in the U.S., how to understand and map vulnerabilities, and expose you to the disaster planning in different contexts, including in developing countries.
This seminar examines efforts in developing and advanced nations and regions to create, finance, and regulate infrastructure and energy technologies from a variety of methodological and disciplinary perspectives. It is conducted with intensive in-class discussions and debates.
This seminar will explore the difficulties of getting agreement on global definitions of sustainability; in particularly building international support for efforts to combat climate change created by greenhouse gas emissions as well as other international resource management efforts. We will focus on possible changes in the way global environmental agreements are formulated and implemented, especially on ways of shifting from the current "pollution controlâ€ approach to combating climate change to a more comprehensive strategy for taking advantage of sustainable development opportunities.
This course focuses on national environmental and energy policy-making; environmental ethics; the techniques of environmental analysis; and strategies for collaborative environmental decision-making. The primary objective of the course is to help students formulate a personal theory of environmental planning practice. The course is taught comparatively, with constant references to examples from around the world. It is required of all Graduate / Professional students pursuing an environmental policy and planning specialization in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at MIT. This course is the first subject in the Environmental Policy and Planning sequence. It reviews philosophical debates including growth vs. deep ecology, "command-and-controlâ€ vs. market-oriented approaches to regulation, and the importance of expertise vs. indigenous knowledge. Emphasis is placed on environmental planning techniques and strategies. Related topics "include the management of sustainability, the politics of ecosystem management, environmental governance and the changing role of civil society, ecological economics, integrated "assessment (combining environmental impact assessment (EIA) and risk assessment), joint fact finding in science-intensive policy disputes, environmental justice in poor communities of "color, and environmental dispute resolution. "Environmental Problem-Solving "(Susskind et al., 2017, Anthem Press), a video-enhanced eBook, provides students with full access to all the "assigned readings, faculty commentary on the readings, and examples of the best student performance on course assignments in previous years.
The Malaysia Sustainable Cities Practicum is an intensive field-based course that brings 15 Graduate / Professional students to Malaysia to learn about and analyze sustainable city development in five cities in Malaysia. The students in the Practicum will help determine the extent to which these efforts have been successful. They will identify specific projects or policy-making efforts that the following yearâ€™s cohort of International Visiting Scholars can examine more closely. " Lead Faculty Professor Larry Susskind Teaching Assistants Jessica Gordon Yasmin Zaerpoor Administrative Staff Takeo Kuwabara Selmah Goldberg
This course explores policy and planning for sustainable development. It critically examines concept of sustainability as a process of social, organizational, and political development drawing on cases from the U.S. and Europe. It also explores pathways to sustainability through debates on ecological modernization; sustainable technology development, international and intergenerational fairness, and democratic governance.
Sustainability challenges organizations to address the implications Ã¢Â€Â“ and responses Ã¢Â€Â“ in their own operations and supply chain, products/services/markets, and community responsibilities. This course exposes students to professionals and organizations who are actively working toward making their organizations and industries sustainable.
For the last century, precepts of scientific management and administrative rationality have concentrated power in the hands of technical specialists, which in recent decades has contributed to widespread disenfranchisement and discontent among stakeholders in natural resources cases. In this seminar we examine the limitations of scientific management as a model both for governance and for gathering and using information, and describe alternative methods for informing and organizing decision-making processes. We feature cases involving large carnivores in the West (mountain lions and grizzly bears), Northeast coastal fisheries, and adaptive management of the Colorado River. There will be nightly readings and a short written assignment.
This course is an introduction to real-world dynamics of public policy controversies. Topics to be considered include national, state, and local policy disputes, such as smoking, hazardous waste, abortion, gun control, and education. Using a case study approach, students study whether and how those disputes get resolved. Students conduct debates and simulations in addition to writing a series of short essays.
This course addresses the relationship between technology-related problems and the law applicable to work environment. The National Labor Relations Act, the Occupational Safety and Health Act, the Toxic Substances Control Act, state workerâ€™s compensation, and suits by workers in the courts are discussed in the course. Problems related to occupational health and safety, collective bargaining as a mechanism for altering technology in the workplace, job alienation, productivity, and the organization of work are also addressed. Prior courses or experience in environmental, public health, or law-related areas will be useful.
"Designing a dream city is easy. Rebuilding a living one takes imagination.â€ " " " -Jane Jacobs This course examines the challenges that cities will face and strategies they can use to prepare for the impacts of climate change. Particular attention will be paid to the presence of global disparities, the needs of vulnerable populations and resource constrained locales, and the ways in which local government and community-based activities can achieve equitable levels of climate-readiness.
This course, which "examines ways of resolving conflicts over the allocation of water resources, "is designed to raise student awareness of the state of freshwater resources globally and the need for more effective water governance. It builds on several case studies of transboundary water conflicts in different parts of the world while also helping students develop the negotiation and mediation skills they will need to resolve water disputes.