Resilient Communities (Section 1)

Discipline: Urban Planning
Instructor: Bassett
Credits: 3
Day: A
Start: 1550
End: 1710
Field Work: Day 1 - Cochin - 9 March | India Download Syllabus

In 2007, the earth’s population became more urban than rural, launching what some have dubbed
the “urban millennium.” The process of rapid urbanization has created myriad challenges
for city residents, local leadership, and national governments including massive demands for
housing, access to potable water and sanitation, and infrastructure for transportation and energy
distribution. The disruptions associated with rapid urbanization, moreover, are exacerbated by
one of the most significant environmental challenges in human history: climate change. Our
nation’s recent experience with Hurricane Sandy and its impact upon communities along the
eastern seaboard graphically illustrated how climate change, rising seawaters and severe weather
events threaten coastal communities across the globe.

Few groups will be more affected by climate change than the communities living in the
exploding port cities of the global south. In particular, slum dwellers—who are the poorest
of the poor—are anticipated to be the most at risk. They live literally on the edge. Their
marginalized status finds them living on riverbanks, next to wetlands, or perched on hazard-
prone slopes. They have little money, little power, and few rights—without secure land or
housing tenure they have a tenuous claim to what urban theorists call their “right to the city.”
Communities with the ability to cope with such extreme challenges are often referred to as
“resilient”. The ways in which communities demonstrate resilience and the factors that
determine the speed, shape and effectiveness of their responses, however, are varied—influenced
by their distinctive social, institutional, environmental, and economic circumstances.

The course Resilient Communities is a three-credit course which will explore the impacts of
climate change on the rapidly urbanizing cities of the global south, critically examine the idea
of resilience, and explore the various ways local governments and other stakeholders (globally)
are working to manage climate change and enhance community resilience. In our initial
classroom work, students will read and debate important theoretical and analytical scholarship on
resiliency, climate change, and rapid urbanization. Students will use in-port time in 3 to 4 cities
to undertake some on-site data collection/analysis relative to the built and natural environment.
This data will serve as a foundation for a longitudinal research project on urban resiliency. For
their final project students will be asked to submit a written report in which they utilize their
fieldwork data and formulate recommendations for policies or projects that might facilitate
adaptation to climate change. (The latter paper could be comparative or a single city analysis;
this will be decided in conjunction with the instructor.)

Field Work

Country: India
Day: 1 - Cochin - 9 March

Details TBA