Taubman College

Master of Urban Planning / Concentrations

Planning in Developing Countries

Many cities in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Latin America, and the Caribbean face challenges of rapid population growth, resource scarcity, rural-urban migration, and severe poverty and socioeconomic inequality. Yet they also exhibit significant opportunities, including inventiveness borne out of necessities of survival (e.g. self-help housing, group micro-credit programs), and a highly effective use of resources. Development planners focus on understanding these issues and opportunities and formulating appropriate interventions, and on achieving social justice and redistribution of development benefits. They work in project management, administration, finance, as and urban policy. This concentration prepares planners to work in the diverse and rapidly changing contexts of the developing world.

The curriculum in this concentration focuses on assisting students to develop the tools and ideas to understand issues confronting cities in diverse socioeconomic, political, and cultural circumstances; understand how globalization impacts the local space of cities and regions; work effectively in multicultural settings; and understand how the international development industry functions. Students may choose to focus on specific themes and substantive areas such as community development, transportation, environmental planning, land use and physical planning, or economic development. They may also choose to structure their coursework to focus on one of two distinct career trajectories within the field:

Project and Program Planning for Development: Students may take courses that prepare them to work with non-governmental organizations such as Oxfam, the Self-Employed Women's Association (SEWA), and the Grameen Bank. Such organizations generally work at the community level to achieve social justice, empower marginalized populations, and facilitate collaborative practice at the local level. Coursework appropriate for this career trajectory may include development, program, and project administration; housing, infrastructure, and community development; economic development; environment and development; and theories of economic, social, and political development.

International Systems of Administration, Management and Finance: Students may also choose coursework that prepares them to work on issues of macro concern such as structures of governance and politics, legal systems, and matters of finance and administration. The objective is to practice in international agencies such as the World Bank and USAID, private consulting firms, and UN agencies. Here, the appropriate training may include coursework in development program and project administration; the international economy and financial policy; and theories of economic, social, and political development.

Students may also choose to pursue regional interests by taking courses listed by the National Resource Centers and Area Studies Programs in the International Institute which include regional seminars and courses in geographic areas of interest such as Latin America, Africa, China, Japan, South and Southeast Asia.

Students in the concentration should take UP 658, Urban and Regional Planning in Developing Countries, one other foundational course, one techniques course, and one or two additional courses in their specific area of interest. Students should be aware that not all of the foundational courses are offered regularly, and should consult with the relevant faculty to find out when they are likely to be taught so they can plan accordingly. The list of courses below is not comprehensive – students are encouraged to seek additional coursework that might count towards the concentration subject to approval by the concentration coordinator.

Foundational Courses (UP 658 plus one of the following)

UP 658 Urban and Regional Planning in Developing Countries (Required)
UP 527 Infrastructure Planning in the United States and Developing Countries
UP 574 Comparative Urban Policy
UP 575 Metropolitan Structure

Techniques / Methods (at least one of the following)

UP 506 Introduction to Geographic Information Systems
UP 507 Intermediate Geographic Information Systems
UP 539 Methods for Economic Development Planning
PUBPOL 636 Program Evaluation
PUBPOL 573 Benefit Cost Analysis

Other Related Courses

ANTHRCUL 439 Economic Anthropology and Development
ANTHRCUL 625 Anthropological Approaches to Property & Property Rights
BA 519 Managing the Nonprofit Organization
ECON 461 The Economics of Development I
ECON 462 The Economics of Development II
ECON 561 Economic Development Policy
ECON 641 International Trade Theory
ECON 665 Economic Development of Underdeveloped Countries I
ECON 666 Economic Development of Underdeveloped Countries II
EHS 502 Environmental Health in Developing Areas
EHS 575 Population-Environmental Dynamics (NRE 545)
EHS 651 International Environmental Management System Standards
HBEHED 603 Population Change: Gender, Family & Fertility in Africa and Asia
NRE 453 Tropical Conservation and Resource Management
NRE 477 Women, Gender & Environment
NRE 492 Environmental Justice: Domestic & International (F)
NRE 556 Environmental History and the Tropical World (W)
NRE 593 Environmental Justice: New Directions
P&E 685 Methods of Program Evaluation
POLISCI 627 Proseminar in Comparative Urban Politics and Development
PUBPOL 541 International Trade Policy
PUBPOL 542 International Financial Policy
PUBPOL 534 The Economics of Developing Countries
PUBPOL 676 International Politics of Poverty and Development
PUBPOL 741 Principles of Finance and Global Financial Markets
PUBPOL 742 International Trade and Investments: Policies and Strategies
PUBPOL 780 Topics in Policymaking: Understanding the U.N.
SOCWK 701 Practice in International Social Work

Courses with a Regional Focus

CAAS 403 Education and Development in Africa
CAAS 408 African Economics: Social and Political Settings
CAAS 426 Urban Redevelopment and Social Justice
CAAS 427 African Women
CAAS 453 Culture, Class, and Conflict in Southern Africa
ECON 455 The Economy of the People's Republic of China
ECON 467 Economic Development in the Middle East
LAW 680 Constitutionalism in South Africa
POLISCI 649 Proseminar in the Governments and Politics of Latin America
POLISCI 653 Proseminar in Middle East Politics
POLISCI 656 Seminar in Chinese Government and Politics
POLISCI 657 Proseminar in Governments and Politics of South Asia
POLISCI 659 Proseminar in Government and Politics of Africa
POLISCI 660 Proseminar in World Politics
POLISCI 677 Proseminar in Southeast Asian Politics
PUBPOL 674 Economic and Social Policies in a Selected Emerging Market Economy

Recommended Concentration Course Sequences (PDF 74KB)

Summer Internship

Students are encouraged to seek summer internships abroad at the end of their first year. Financial assistance for travel and research support is available on a competitive basis at the International Institute, Rackham Graduate School and at various Area Centers. Students are encouraged to expand on work initiated in a summer internship abroad through the thesis or professional project option for meeting the capstone requirement.

Faculty associated with the concentration: