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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Yonn Dierwechter
T URB 450
Tacoma Campus

Planning for Sustainability

Examines the growing impact of global sustainability on local spatial planning systems, especially in the US, UK, Europe and South Africa. Specific topics include the philosophies, theories, goals, techniques, and institutional politics of sustainability planning.

Class description

This course examines the new global goal of sustainable development from an urban perspective and with special reference to spatial planning systems. The course has five main parts. Part 1 introduces the proposition that sustainable development is an attempt to balance three equally important societal goals: economic development; ecological sustainability; and social equity. Part 2 links this proposition to the urban context and provides additional concepts that allow us to re-conceptualize cities as ecological systems as well as economic and social formations. Students begin to explore their own relationships to urban environmental and sustainability issues by reflecting formally on their personal “ecological footprints.” Part 3 explores the relationship between sustainable development and transportation issues. Particular attention is paid to the problem of and solution to the “automobile city.” Key themes here include the history of unsustainable urban form, the links between form and transportation technologies, data patterns associated with automobile dependency, and new visions and policies aimed at reducing and possibly even ending this dependency. Part 4 is the methodical and spiritual heart of the course; it is organized around student-driven research presentations on innovative sustainable development initiatives around the world. Working in teams, students will consider two main policy arenas: urban-regional water systems and urban-regional greenway systems. Part 5 provides a final examination of how sustainability is currently influencing urban and regional planning practices. Case studies from England, South Africa, Holland, Australia, Canada and the USA (1) are addressed.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Recommended preparation

Class assignments and grading


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Yonn Dierwechter
Date: 03/15/2005