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PLA 6550 - FALL 2001



(Some revisions pending)


There will be no final examination. A term paper is required, to be handed in during the last regular class of the term. The finished papers will be discussed during examination week at the usual class time, in lieu of a final exam. One-page and two-page progress reports will be due by the 4th and 8th class, respectively, and a lab presentation of each paper will be scheduled near the end of the semester for final feedback.prior to handing in the paper. Each student will also present one of the major readings to the class early in the semester.

Assignment submission

All reports, presentations, as well as the discussion developing around them, should be posted on the course bulletin board, with a backup hard copy of reports and presentations (but not of discussion material) for the instructor. Reports and presentations will be considered as submitted when posted, with the hard copy delivered. Posting of discussion, commentary, and feedback involving all reports and presentations is encouraged, as is the posting of improved versions of the reports and presentations, on the basis of the feedback received.

Substance of the term paper

Students will be encouraged to choose a particular, detailed urban or regional planning or design project as the basis for the term assignment. The project may be set in the U.S. or abroad, depending on the student's intended sectoral specialization. Students may choose individual projects or else, participate in or organize team projects. Suggested team projects will be posted on the Bulletin Board. All projects may either be self-contained or may complement or expand projects on which the student is also working for another course, studio, or worshop.

With variations depending on the nature of the project, key tasks will typically include:

-- Analyzing how the chosen, narrowly focused project is affected by the broader context addressed in the present course. Tension between forces of the market and deliberate, community-oriented planning decisions will often be pervasive issues.

-- Modifying and implementing the planning or design approach for dealing with the project, as suggested by the preceding analysis of its broader context.

-- Demonstrating how, in what areas, and to what extent such attention to the broader setting will be likely to enhance the viability of the detailed plan or design dealing with the chosen project.

First progress report

The purpose of the first progress report is to make sure that students commit themselves to a term project topic as soon as possible, but no later than by the fourth class, and that they present it in a way that will elicit meaningful commentary from the other class members. Expressing doubts or difficulties is perfectly fair at this stage, as is asking for specific comments. The report must be short, no more than one page, except that an initial bibliography of 5-10 potential sources may spill over onto a second page. The bibliography is important and should be lightly annotated from the point of view of the chosen topic. Remember: submit ASAP but no later than the 4th class!

Presentation of a major reading

Early commitment to a term paper topic is an important labor saving device, because it makes possible an appropriate choice of a major reading for class presentation. This reading, to be chosen in consultation with the instructor, should preferably also provide input into the term paper. In order to encourage such a choice, the task is defined as that of presenting the reading from the point of view of its expected contribution to the student's own term paper topic. Other students can learn far more from such a focused a presentation than from merely abstracting or summarizing the reading.The presentation, of 30 minutes length, should be based on a concept map showing the relationships among the major ideas to be presented. The concept map, presentation slides, other materials used in the presentation, plus one to two pages of accompanying text form part of the assignment and should be posted in time for the class to review them prior to the verbal presentation.

Second progress report

The purpose of the second progress report is to make sure that students think through the relationship between the major ideas that will constitute the core of their finished term papers. To this end, the report should consist of a concept map and accompanying discussion of no more than two pages. A bibliography should be attached, with brief annotations of the 4-6 most important sources. Reports should be submitted as indicated for the first progress report.

Lab presentation

The purpose of the lab presentation of the term paper, which should be in a fairly advanced stage near the end of the semester, is to elicit live discussion and feedback from the entire class. The presentation should be kept to 30 minutes. The technical organization of the presentation should follow the main lines of the presentation of a major reading, as indicated above. In addition to a concept map, the preparation of presentation slides is highly desirable at this stage. Following the presentation, all materials will be posted on the web, together with follow-on discussion.

Finished term paper

The finished term paper should be properly referenced and should include a bibliography, with key items briefly annotated; a concept map; and any slides used during the lab presentation. Its text, exclusive of bibliography, graphics and slides, should not exceed 2000 words. The term paper should be submitted as indicated for the first progress report. Posting it on the bulletin board in a timely manner is especially important, in order to permit a meaningful discussion in the class in lieu of an exam, during the examination period.

Suggested Team Projects

(Will be posted here)


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