Urban Planning: Changing Cities and ICT 2016/2017 (16 ECTS)

Urban regions are the main drivers of innovation and economic growth and are arenas for the social and environmental challenges of contemporary society.

The Urban Planning Master (MA) module examines topics of urbanisation, sustainable development, and information and communications technology (ICT) in cities with a particular focus on formerly centrally planned countries.

Module is scheduled from February to May 2017 at the University of Tartu, Estonia.

Module coordinators: Prof. Rein Ahas, Prof. Tiit Tammaru

Contact: Kristi Post, kristi.post@ut.ee

Department of Geography, University of Tartu, Vanemuise 46-245, 51014, Tartu, Estonia

Urban Planning: Changing Cities and ICT (16 ECTS)


Introduction to Urban Planning 2 ECTS (LOOM.02.347)  

Prof. Daniel Hess, University at Buffalo, USA

The aim of the course is to explore underlying theories and approaches in planning theory for urban planners, as well as to introduce the profession and understand historical motivations for planning intervention.

The course sets a framework for understanding urban planning by introducing the historical evolution of urban spatial structure and the complexity of challenges that urban planners face today. Through practical examples students become familiarised with the modes of reasoning of urban planners and how best to deal with today’s complex urban challenges.

 Geography, communication and spatial mobility, 4 ECTS (LOOM.02.258)

Prof. Rein Ahas, University of Tartu, Estonia

Prof. Matthew Zook, University of Kentucky, USA

The aim of the course is to introduce the students to the theories and principles of functioning contemporary ICT-based societies and how they relate to city planning principles and practice.

Upon completion of this course students will understand the theories and principles of functioning in contemporary ICT-based societies, they will be able to use ICTs to monitor planning decisions and implement knowledge gained from ICTs into solutions for concrete urban planning problems. Special attention to mobile telephone-based data collection methods and urban analysis and social network analysis.

The course consists of seven lectures (2×45 min.), four individual works (homework) and six seminars (2×45 min.). There are 6 articles to study as well as homework during individual work.

Students will be graded individually on the quality of individual work and participation in seminar discussions.

Demography and Urban Social Geography, 4 ECTS, (LOOM.02.341)             

Prof. Tiit Tammaru, University of Tartu, Estonia

Dr. Anneli Kährik, University of Tartu, Estonia

 The course provides the students with an understanding of the interaction of social and spatial processes taking place in the contemporary city.

The course sets a framework for understanding the co-evolution of the social and spatial structures of the city. Building on the life-course approach and other theories of human mobility, the selectivity of these processes by population groups (based on age, socio-economic status and ethnicity) will be examined. The course discusses the dynamics of the urban fabric (housing, neighbourhoods) in metropolitan areas (inner city, high-rise housing estates, outer city, suburban ring). The patterns and processes of segregation and housing segmentation, as well as residential neighbourhood effects on other life careers, will be discussed. As a result of the course the students are familiar with the theories that deal with socio-spatial processes and related planning challenges in the city, and are equipped with the analytical toolbox for studying neighbourhood change and segregation processes in urban regions.

Socio-spatial Changes in Cities in Transition, 2 ECTS (LOOM.02.330)

Dr. Kadri Leetmaa, University of Tartu, Estonia

Prof. Tiit Tammaru, University of Tartu, Estonia

The aim of the course is to interpret the key urban theories in the context of the urban change of recent decades in the formerly socialist countries of Europe.

After completing this course, students will be able to contextualise urban change in European countries in transition (post-socialist cities) within wider urban theories, they will be well-grounded and equipped to face planning challenges in cities in transition, and have first-hand experience in solving a practical planning challenge in a post-socialist city.

The course is based on the following model: 45-min. lecture and 45-min. seminar based on home readings (2 articles for each seminar). Different researchers are invited as the lecturers/seminar moderators. During the first half of the lecture the research highlights related to the topic covered are presented, and the second 45 minutes is reserved for discussion. For each lecture/seminar the students are expected to write a short reflection (700-1000 words) and upload it into the course e-learning environment (Moodle). At the end of the course participants are expected to write an essay on a selected topic. The essay should show that the compulsory literature has been read thoroughly and understood, and that the participant is able to conduct research using additional literature related to his/her topic. The lecturers involved in the course serve as supervisors and tutors for students writing their essays.

The following topics are covered: post-socialist urban processes against the background of general urban theory, theorising the transition period in Central and Eastern Europe and its impacts on cities; the priority landscapes of a socialist city and their impact on socialist-era urban planning and settlement systems; the historical spatial context shaping post-socialist residential differentiation; structural changes in the transition decades and changing urban actors; time and spatial changes in migration and residential mobility; urban iconography, images and urban marketing in the post-socialist period, spatial changes in the post-socialist metropolis.

The course addresses two target groups: students following the full master curriculum of the University of Tartu, Department of Geography (3 ECTS); and Erasmus and other guest students (2 ECTS). In addition to the lectures, there will be a short excursion in the city of Tartu. Local students participating in the course have an additional task of preparing a 4-hour study walk (incl. written guide) for the joint group in the middle of the course.

Economic Geography of Urban Systems, 2 ECTS (LOOM.02.328)

Prof. Frank Witlox, Ghent University, Belgium

This course aims to put forward a number of topics that are relevant to understanding the field of economic geography. Prior to introducing these topics we briefly discuss the question, “What is economic geography?” Answering this question involves introducing a number of new concepts, approaches and methods that are typically used by economic geographers. Next, we focus on the importance of location, locational decision-making, and locational modelling in economic geography. Different location theories are formally introduced: ranging from classical (J.H. von Thünen, Weber, Christaller) and neo-classical approaches; to behavioural and evolutionary approaches; and institutional and structural approaches. Here again attention is paid to content, assumptions, methodology, and the conceptualisation of time and space. Because locational decision-making is a discrete choice problem, we introduce the basic concepts of discrete choice modelling (MNL, nested MNL). We also pay attention to cost-benefit analysis and multi-criteria analysis. Theory is complemented with practical exercises and an assignment. Given that we live in an urban age, and that cities and networks of cities are becoming more and more important, we also pay attention to the role and importance of urban systems and how they are impacted by globalisation. Global or world cities are viewed as ‘accessible’ nodes in infrastructure networks and as ‘post-industrial production sites’ for advanced producer services. Both approaches are discussed and evaluated. Here again we introduce basic concepts of geography of networks (social network analysis).

GIS, Maps and Spatial Analyses for Urban Planning, 2 ECTS (LOOM.02.331)

Dr. Anto Aasa, University of Tartu, Estonia

The aim of the course is to introduce the aspects and output of spatial analysis in urban planning (data, software, GIS, maps, visualisation).

The course equips students with a diverse set of skills for solving urban planning challenges by means of GIS methods, mapping and spatial analysis, including the use of geo-referenced spatial datasets (both traditional and those created by means of modern ICTs) as well as the analytical tools for handling BIG data.

The course provides students with a diverse set of skills for solving urban planning challenges by means of GIS methods, mapping and spatial analysis (traditional and modern [ICT-generated] datasets) as well as the analytical tools for handling BIG data. The course consists of 4 lectures and 4 seminars. In the first lecture an overview of urban planning will be given with a focus on aspects relating to spatial analysis. In the second lecture the topic of geospatial datasets and software (databases, software, 2D-3D, formats) will be introduced. In the third lecture, an overview of general aspects of geospatial analysis will be given. The fourth lecture is aimed at introducing urban planning maps and other visualisations. Students will conduct practical work (on the topics of lectures 2-4), which will be discussed in seminars. Each lecture (except the first lecture) will be followed by 2 seminars (in the first seminar plans for, problems with and the status of solving tasks will be discussed; in the second seminar, the final results will be presented).