In the fall of 2014 Dr. Lester guided an Economic Development Workshop (PLAN 823) which examined the low-wage facets of North Carolina. Low-wage impacts on people, industries, geography were investigated, as well as policies aimed at mitigating these effects.
Urban Spatial Structure
This course provides planning students with a foundational understanding of how cities work. By its nature the material will cut across all major fields within planning and will introduce the major theories, models, and methodological approaches that planners use to explain the function and structure of urban areas.
While the focus of the course is on positive behavioral theories that explain the actions of residents and firms that determine the spatial dynamics of regions, it also draws on structural and institutional theories of urban change.
Development Planning Techniques
This course is offers students the skills to understand and apply a variety of analytic techniques for regional and community economic development planning. These techniques are used in professional practice to yield information about the behavior and performance of local economies and to measure the impact of public policy interventions.
By the end of the course, students should be able to select techniques appropriate to particular situations and information needs, conduct analyses using these methods, critically evaluate the validity of the analytic results obtained, and interpret and clearly explain the results to policy makers and the public. Given the variety of geographic scales of analysis and quantitative techniques covered in this course, students will attain a high level of fluency with a diverse set of public and private data sources that they are likely use regularly throughout their careers.
“To imposition from above is opposed expression and cultivation of individuality; to external discipline is opposed free activity; to learning from texts and teachers, learning through experience; to acquisition of isolated skills and techniques by drill, is opposed acquisition of them as means of attaining ends which make direct vital appeal; to preparation for a more or less remote future is opposed making the most of the opportunities of present life; to static aims and materials is opposed acquaintance with a changing world.” John Dewey, Experience and Education (1897), p.6
Theories of Social Justice & the City
As income inequality continues to grow throughout the U.S. labor market and throughout the world, policy makers and planners increasingly struggle with fundamental issues of social justice. Rather than addressing questions of justice or inequality in an abstract sense, planners often face challenging dilemmas on the ground as they propose new developments, advocate for policy changes, or attempt to alter the built environment. Across a wide variety of city planning contexts—from expanding a highway system, to promoting dense urban development or smart growth, to economic development strategies—claims for greater attention to social justice and distributional impacts are made by a diverse set of stakeholders.
This course will provide a broad survey of theories of social justice offered by scholars from a variety of intellectual backgrounds and apply them to real cases from planning practice and political struggle that takes place in cities.