Course XI Expands Its Programs to Attract More UndergradsBy Charu Chaudhry
The Department of Urban Studies and Planning has made many changes and additions in an attempt to tailor itself to changing student interests to attract more undergraduates.
The department is now offering a six-subject minor in Public Policy. In the introductory courses, students learn the governmental, economic, and urban design contexts for public policy decision-making. Then they focus on one area, which can range from the study of urban problems and institutions to the study of environmental policy issues. Finally, all students take the newly-created Big Plans (11.123), a reflective synthesis of past and present efforts to implement large projects and policies.
"This minor is especially good for people in technical areas who want to understand the implications of what they are doing and how that works into public policy and planning," said Professor Phillip L. Clay, the head of the department. He expects the minor to be popular with students in the Department of Civil Engineering.
Course XI is also offering many HASS concentrations to attract more students and expose them to the world of urban studies. Professor Lawrence Vale, director of the undergraduate portion of the department, said, "It is important for students to realize how their technical knowledge applies to the real world." As part of its course expansion and improvement, the department is encouraging the best teachers in the senior faculty to regain interest in the undergraduate arena.
Some of the other new courses being offered are Economics of Transition (11.102J), Solving the Infrastructure Crisis (11.018), American Living Standards and Income Inequality (11.022J), Boston: The Evolving City (11.012), and Planned Communities (11.021J). Some of these courses are already being offered this year under different course numbers.
Clay said the department also plans to add courses in international environmental planning and urban studies and development.
Faculty members are putting in extra effort to help students find research jobs through the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program and are encouraging undergraduate majors to take graduate courses. They are also pushing their five-year program, which in addition to a bachelor's degree offers a Master in City Planning Degree.