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Department of Urban Studies and Planning Massachusetts Institute of Technology


Spring 2006

Katrina Practicum

News and Views

This past spring break, EPG students in the Katrina Practicum joined their fellow DUSP classmates in New Orleans. From the beginning of the spring semester, the students have been working with Ujamaa, a community development corporation located in the Tremé neighborhood.

Please note the new acronym – Environmental Policy and Planning (EPP)-- rather than the old Environmental Policy Group (EPG). The change reflects a renewed focus on planning, not just policy. Along these lines, we are moving ahead with the development of the proposed Environmental Planning Certificate – a new professional credential that parallels the Urban Design Certificate. The idea is that anyone in the MCP or MS Programs in the department (or any other relevant masterʼs degree program at MIT) ought to be able to enroll in a sequence of courses that gives them an additional credential they can apply in their professional practice. Our goal is to generate a proposal by early September and seek departmental and school—wide approval next fall. The DUSP tenured faculty and the Department Head have encouraged us to prepare such a proposal. Our intent is to create a certificate program that does not require an investment in additional faculty lines or the creation of entirely new courses. It ought to be possible to build on existing community-oriented planning courses. …continued on next page.


Tremé is a historic African-American neighborhood with over half its population living in poverty. More than eighty percent of Tremé residents rent their homes. Unlike the widelypublicized Lower Ninth Ward, Tremé was not completely physically destroyed by the hurricane. However, many houses did experience significant damage from floodwaters and wind, and fell prey to the mold that still covers much of the city. Seven months after the storm, Ujamaa estimates that many Tremé residents still have not returned to their homes.

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While some neighborhoods in New Orleans are ready for demolition (picture 1), others like Tremé (picture 2) are relatively intact, and residents need to know what environmental hazards they will face if they return to their homes. photo credits: Jim Hamilton (1) and Dulari Tahbildar (2)

Ujamaa, as the community development arm of St. Peter Claver, the local Catholic church, has several years of experience developing affordable housing. Since the hurricane, Ujamaa has sought to develop its capacity to tackle environmental contamination brought into peopleʼs homes and yards by the floodwaters. Students in the Katrina Practicum have divided into two groups—one dealing with housing, and the other with environmental concerns. While in New Orleans over spring break, both groups worked with Ujamaa to identify end-ofsemester deliverables most useful to meeting the organizationʼs dual goal of providing affordable housing and mitigating neighborhood environmental hazards. …continued on page 3


INSIDE NEWS AND VIEWS ....................... 1 EPP SPRING OUTING ................ 2 WELCOME THE CLASS OF 2008 ... 4 MUSIC UPDATE ....................... 4 BROWNFIELDS IN CHINA ............. 5 ABORIGINAL LAND CLAIMS ........ 7 EPP SPRING LUNCHEONS ........... 7 EPP STUDENT AWARDS .............. 8 DISSERTATION ABSTRACTS .......... 8 SPRING 2006


Experimenting with Consensus Building Processes in Japan Masahiro (Masa) Matsuura, Ph.D. Candidate, has just finished his two-year dissertation project, which involved his Japanese fellows who applied the five-step consensus building processes to formulating a safety improvement plan for a busy street intersection. A group of community planning practitioners in Tokushima (a mid-sized city nearby Osaka) prepared an elaborate conflict assessment and managed a series of stakeholder dialogues that involved twenty-one stakeholder representatives from government agencies and local communities. On February 10, 2006, the stakeholder committee reached the final agreement, including eight specific recommendations that would be implemented before the mid-2007 by the convenor (Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport).

the social technology from the US to Japan. Throughout the two-year experiment he observed how the practitioners adapt the processes to the Japanese context. He identified the importance of organizational change in transferring such processes: government agencies and other stakeholders changed their traditional ways of doing businesses in order to adopt a new approach to policymaking. In other words, bureaucrats and decision-makers who want to learn from consensus building processes in the US must be willing to give up their conventional ways of policy-making to some extent. Masa is currently wrapping up his dissertation. He will present those findings in the Association for Conflict Resolution’s Environment and Public Policy Section Conference “Deliberative Democracy: New Directions in Public Policy Dispute Resolution” which will be held at MIT (July 28-30, 2006).

The group has drawn lessons from consensus building processes as practiced in the US. Masa was instrumental in transferring

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Picture 1. Busy intersection that needed safety improvements. Picture 2. Consensus building process with stakeholder dialogues. Picture 3. Final agreement with specific recommendations documented.

News and Views

Continued from page 1.

The Environmental Planning Certificate will cover six areas of competence: environmental impact assessment (e.g., 11.272, 11.520), sustainability and growth management (e.g. 11.366J, 11.360, 11.367, 11.374 11.374), landscape and ecological analysis (e.g., 11.308J, 11.305), infrastructure planning -- including energy facilities (e.g., 11.304J, 11.527, 11.540J, 11.371J), brownfields redevelopment (11.370), and public participation and dispute settlement (11.255, 11.363, 11.943). In each area, at least two or three courses will ultimately be listed. We can offer the courses listed above (for illustrative purposes) without having to add additional faculty or new courses, although we might be required to restrict the number of people enrolled in the Certificate for the first few years to see how enrollments in existing subjects might be effected. Anyone seeking the Certificate will also be required to enroll in 11.601 Introduction to Environmental Policy and Planning and to complete a relevant Practicum or field-based project. That would mean that students in the proposed Certificate Program would be need to enroll in eight subjects all together – just about what current EPP students take. A draft of the proposal (including a more complete list of possible courses under each of


the six areas) will be circulated shortly for student feedback. The idea of the certificate emerged from last fallʼs student review of the program. Students in other specializations (especially HCED and CDD) were interested in ways of making it easier and more attractive to take EPP subjects. With David Laws on leave next academic year (in Holland), EPP will seek to appoint two part-time instructors: one to help teach the sustainability course (11.366J with Marty Rein) and one to teach a new course on alternative energy facilities and energy policy in the spring semester. While we are still searching for a Boston-area practitioner who might be interested in a part-time appointment to help teach the first course, we are responding to a proposal from an experienced Boston-area energy planning expert who proposes to teach the second. Our hope is that a move in this direction will convince the Institute not to overlook alternative energy and energy policy in pursuing President Hockfieldʼs energy initiative (which, to date, seems to focus heavily on traditional energy sources).

Katrina Practicum

Continued from page 1. educational materials for Tremé residents on the contaminants that exist in the neighborhood post-Katrina.

Ujamaa is the community development arm of St. Peter Claver, the local Catholic church pictured above. Photo credit: Dulari Tahbildar

The environmental group, made up of three EPG students— Sharlene Leurig, Chris Lyddy, and Laura Machala, an HCED student—Dulari Tahbildar, and a CDD student—Sagree Sharma, decided to focus its attention on compiling and creating

The students in the environmental group feel that it is imperative that New Orleans residents receive accessible information on the environmental conditions in and around their homes in order to make informed decisions on rebuilding. In order to meet this need, they are developing materials on local contaminants of concern and their health effects, affordable and safe residential cleanup practices, and tenantsʼ rights. The environmental group hopes to return to Tremé this summer to help Ujamaa distribute these educational materials. They also plan to deliver “train-the-trainers” workshops, enabling residents to educate their neighbors about local contamination and safe rebuilding practices.



MUSIC Update HERMAN KARL As highlighted by the research study with CADR and OEPC, MUSIC continues to broaden its portfolio of testing new approaches to joint fact finding and developing collaborative approaches to the use of science in natural resources management and environmental policy. The program continued to evolve, develop, and build new partnerships during the spring semester. Four new interns will be welcomed into MUSIC in fall of 2006. Beth Parlikar, Mattijs Van Maasakkers, Siobahn Watson, and Mimi Zhang are MCP students. They will join the four returning interns, Sharlene Leurig, Chris Lyddy, Alexis Shulman, and Katherine Wallace. Anna Brown, Lindsay Campbell, Marina Psaros, and Basilia Yao graduate this spring with the MCP degree; they helped to pioneer the program and the excellence of their work is a principal reason for its success and growing reputation. Participation in the MUSIC program is not limited and anyone who shares our research interests is encouraged and welcomed to join our growing “community of action-oriented researchers and practitioners.” The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation joins MUSIC as a partner. Reclamation is supporting Beaudry Kock’s doctoral research that will explore solutions to western water conflicts. Beaudry is MUSIC’s first Ph.D. candidate and he will serve as an Assistant Director to the MUSIC Co-Directors, Larry Susskind and Herman Karl. Beaudry will test a multi-agent based model simulation, developed within a stakeholder-driven collaborative process, as a tool to help solve these value-laden conflicts. Beaudry begins

his research this summer and will have an office at the Bureau of Reclamation facility in Denver as a base from which to conduct his field studies. Exploring ways to deal with increasingly contentious disputes about water-related resources and risks is an emerging focus of MUSIC action-oriented research (by this we mean innovative and applied research which informs policy actions and that results in useable products). Herman Karl, Larry Susskind, and David Laws are co-PIs and Judy Layzer is a core faculty participant on a NSF IGERT proposal, “Water Risks and Resources in Delta Metropolises,” submitted jointly with Tufts University, which is the lead institution; Dr. Paul Kirshen, Director of the Tuft’s Water: Systems, Science and Society Program (WSSS) is the PI. MUSIC and WSSS are partnering to develop an inter-university program. Another emerging focal area of research is testing and developing collaborative approaches to adaptive management and ecosystembased management. Dr. Stephen Light, one of the pioneers of adaptive management, visited Herman Karl’s graduate seminar in March. He perceives the action-oriented research philosophy of MUSIC as “…one of the very few efforts to really link scholars, graduate students and agencies effectively in a ‘learning to learn’ context.” Dr. Light and Herman Karl convened a meeting of a few select theorists and practitioners of adaptive management and policy makers in Washington, D.C. on April 14 to build a network of scholars, practitioners and students for refining the practice and policy applications of adaptive management. Dr. Light and Dr. Lance Gunderson, another pioneer of adaptive management, intend to develop an active research relationship with MUSIC.

MUSIC Highlight: Public Involvement and NEPA Increasing public involvement in environmental decision making and employing alternative environmental conflict resolution techniques has, over the past few decades, become a priority for federal natural resource management agencies. Although providing public notice regarding decisions that affect public lands has always been a requirement of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), it is now widely recognized that there is a need to engage the public more meaningfully. But efforts to incorporate more collaborative methods of environmental decision making have been hampered by uncertainty about how to proceed within the existing NEPA regulatory framework. As policy directives calling for more public-private cooperation roll out of Washington D.C., how are things changing “on the ground”? This is a question that several MUSIC interns are addressing through a research study for the Department of the Interiorʼs Office of Collaborative Action and Dispute Resolution (CADR) and the Office of Environmental Policy and Compliance (OEPC). The study examines the public involvement techniques that federal agencies have used in recent NEPA actions. Over the past two months, Marina Psaros (MCP2), Anna Brown (MCP2),


MARINA PSAROS Lindsay Campbell (MCP2), Sharlene Leurig (MCP1), Katherine Wallace (MCP1) and Basilia Yao (MCP2) have conducted almost three dozen in-depth interviews with employees at the Bureau of Land Management, the National Park Service, the Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Bureau of Reclamation. The purpose of the study is to examine the challenges that federal agencies face when moving from traditional public involvement practices (such as hearings and public comment periods) to innovative practices (such as citizen advisory committees, deliberative polling, and joint research). The results of the study will be shared with DOI staff in order to help them develop policies and tools that enable more meaningful public involvement. Results will also be used to expand a Public Participation Toolkit that Marina Psaros has developed for CADR. This research will continue next year and will expand to begin to explore how NEPA decisions can be made within an adaptive management framework.

New Course on the Land Claims of Indigenous People LAWRENCE SUSSKIND For the first time, DUSP is offering a course (11.257) exploring the land claims of indigenous peoples around the world. Eighteen students, including several from Harvard Law School, are working with Larry Susskind to look closely at the sovereignty and autonomy claims of more than 15 different indigenous peoples in Latin America, Asia, Africa, and North America. There turns out to be a rather substantial anthropological literature on indigeneity and the meaning of borders between cultures. Several of the students in the class come from indigenous communities themselves. Efforts to internationalize these disputes have not worked very well, although in several instances moving the venue of certain legal challenges and generating technical assistance from NGOs in other parts of the world, have given several indigenous communities more leverage than they otherwise might have had within the borders of the country in which they are located. The class is attempting to fold their case study findings and the results of their semester-long dialogue into an article that will be submitted jointly to a new journal called Alternatives:Global, Local, Political published by the Political Science Department at University of Hawai’i at Manoa. Three special issues over the next three years will be devoted to the overarching theme of “indigenous politics.” Issues surrounding “native” peoples, institutions and traditions are enormously complex. There is growing interest in how nation states interact with residents and communities indigenous to their borders but considered external to their cultural and political history. The land claims of these peoples are central to their survival.



EPG Awards and Updates

Laura, Sharlene, and Chris all have public service Cat Ashcraft

CIS awards for

Erik Nielsen Latest award(s) are that he got to support his dissertation research Josh deFlorio Rappaport Institute summer internship award

Beaudry Kock (who we hope will accept admission to EPG PHD program shortly): The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is partnering with the U.S. Geological Survey through the MUSIC program

Rachel Healy Human Rights summer fellowship to work on infrastructure issues



Redevelopment in China


We have all read about an ongoing conflict within China: the dynamic between impressive year-on-year economic growth and associated environmental degradation brought upon by this growth. One specific facet of this issue focuses on the Chinese experience of urban development – particularly the redevelopment of contaminated land (brownfields) following the relocation of an industrial factory. Recently, I was part of a team lead by IDRPʼs Karen Polenske who visited Beijing to get a first-hand glimpse of the situation. The relocation and redevelopment process is straightforward. At the outset, the Chinese Central Government (or its designate) decides to relocate the factory. This decision is based on a variety of reasons including environmental (the old factory is a heavy polluter) to economic (the old factory may be inefficient) gained by a newer factory in a better location. Following relocation, the land is then offered for re-use through a bidding process with redevelopment following shortly. Remediation of the former industrial land prior to redevelopment does not appear to be commonplace. This process has formed a key building block supporting Chinaʼs widespread urban industrial restructuring and land-use transformation efforts. Our research is focusing on how this relocation and redevelopment process may be influenced by two developments. First, there has been a recent, well-documented increase in environmental awareness among a broad cross-section of Chinese society. Chinese media now regularly report on industrial contamination; international attention is being drawn to water and air pollution; and, senior government officials have been replaced for failure to respond adequately to spills (e.g., benzene in the Harbin River). Given North American and European experiences, social pressures will likely create a need for more stringent soil cleanup standards

MIT team led by Karen Polenski visiting a chinese industrial plant.

in conjunction with the redevelopment of former industrial sites. Second, as China continues to transform its economy, the need for foreign investment is increasing and with it, foreign business practices are becoming more common. With respect to real estate development, international standards of environmental due diligence and risk management are now being required, but the relative lack of Chinese environmental policies and standards is viewed as an impediment to foreign investment in these properties. Without the creation of revised policies and procedures to govern the redevelopment of former industrial sites, the countryʼs urban-transformation efforts may be threatened with significant disruption. At present, we are working with our Chinese partners (Tsinghua University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences) to seek funding to undertake the next, and more detailed phase of this policy and practice research.



photo credit: Leslie Tuttle


Phone: 617.253.1509 Email:

Designed and assembled by: Xenia Kumph, EPG Administrator


1SPRING2006 N EWS AND V IEWS .......................1 EPP S PRING O UTING ................2 W ELCOME THE CLASS OF 2008 ...4 MUSIC U PDATE .....


1SPRING2006 N EWS AND V IEWS .......................1 EPP S PRING O UTING ................2 W ELCOME THE CLASS OF 2008 ...4 MUSIC U PDATE .....