International Studies in Planning Concentration

International studies in planning (ISP) is both a curricular concentration within the department and a program of the Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies at Cornell. Most students in ISP also do class work within the other two departmental concentrations. In addition, Cornell's preeminent global position in international development work allows students to draw on a huge range of faculty and classes across the university. Graduates find positions as policy analysts and project managers in national and international development agencies, government foreign assistance programs, nonprofit organizations, nongovernmental organizations, and as planners both in the private and public sector in various countries around the world.

Students study urbanization, informality, and development processes and their implications for the lives and livelihoods of people in diverse international contexts. Students learn to critically assess international development policies and analyze the design and implementation of programs that reflect a commitment to environmental sustainability, economic vitality, and social justice

With this course of study, students use the tools of planning analysis to:

  • Plan, implement, and evaluate urban and regional development projects in a range of international contexts
  • Incorporate race, class, and gender equity concerns in international planning and development practice
  • Design programs and policies that contribute to environmental sustainability
  • Foster broad and meaningful participation in development programs
  • Build organizational capacity to design and execute successful projects and programs

U.S.-based students interested in international careers, as well as international students interested in returning to work in their countries of origin, enroll in ISP-related classes. Most ISP students affiliate with area-studies programs on campus and work overseas in winter or summer breaks on research or projects. These include the Institute for African Development, the South Asia program, the East Asia program, the Institute for European Studies, and the Latin American Studies program, among others. Through the Mario Einaudi Center, ISP offers competitive fellowships to support summer research, as well as spring semester international internships through the Cornell in Rome program, which provides internships at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

Students completing the ISP concentration may wish to select classes from the following lists:

  • CRP 5076 International Development Planning WorkshopThe workshop exposes students to the complexity as well as the nuances of planning with poor communities in the Global South. It places a strong emphasis on an engaged model of learning, research and planning practice. An important part of the workshop is building effective working relationships across cultures, disciplinary perspectives and professional orientations. The workshop emphasizes the use of diverse sources of data and information, and effective communication of deliverables. Because the workshop responds to the needs of international collaborators and stakeholders, the substantive focus of the workshop and the deliverables changes from one year to the next. In recent years the workshop has focused on issues related to poverty, water, shelter and participatory planning.
  • CRP 5850 Special Topics: Applied Analytical Methods for International PlanningThis course addresses pertinent issues relative to planning. Topics vary each semester.
  • CRP 6120 Devolution and Privatization: Challenges for Urban Public Management Local governments across the world must address the twin challenges of devolution and privatization.  Scholarly research debates whether these market approaches promote efficiency, regional equity, local economic growth and citizen voice. Students will review the theoretical bases for these claims and the empirical evidence from around the world.  Students will write theory papers as well as engage in group work on practical policy questions facing cities.  
  • CRP 6150 Current Issues and Debates on NGOs This seminar examines a range of topics that are key to understanding nongovernmental (NGO) and private sector, nonprofit organization's actions and outcomes: their effectiveness at service provision and advocacy; their political role in constructing social capital and strengthening civil society; their relationship with the state and donor agencies; and issues related to organizational design for success. The intention is to gain a broad-based understanding of NGO actors, both as they stand today and in their development over the past four decades. The emphasis throughout will be to critically evaluate the literature, research, and accounts on NGOs as both institutional actors in the development arena and as bounded organizations at the local level: a task that is complicated by the heterogeneity of contexts and organizational types.   
  • CRP 6210 Introduction to Quantitative Methods for the Analysis of Public PolicyThis course introduces students to the principles of quantitative policy analysis. We consider core modeling tools used by planners and policy analysts to identify optimal choices in the face of interdependent alternatives, limited resources, and uncertainties. The models to be discussed are of the analytical, quantitative category, including decision trees, difference equations, linear programming, and benefit-cost analysis. Effectiveness in structuring complex problems and in reducing the complexity of a problem is the unifying theme in this wide array of tools. The course emphasizes the application to planning and public policy decision making. To that end, the lectures balance theoretical concepts, real-world applications, and computer simulations. This course introduces students to the principles of quantitative policy analysis. We consider core modeling tools used by planners and policy analysts to identify optimal choices in the face of interdependent alternatives, limited resources, and uncertainties. The models to be discussed are of the analytical, quantitative category, including decision trees, difference equations, linear programming, and benefit-cost analysis. Effectiveness in structuring complex problems and in reducing the complexity of a problem is the unifying theme in this wide array of tools. The course emphasizes the application to planning and public policy decision making. To that end, the lectures balance theoretical concepts, real-world applications, and computer simulations.
  • CRP 6270 Regional Economic Impact Analysis This course defines the context of a regional economy, taking a systems approach to sustainable development planning. Students will be introduced to the techniques of input-output analysis and will learn how to use social accounting models to evaluate social and environmental impacts. We will use international datasets and will also learn IMPLAN, a software and database designed to quantify the impact of exogenous forces on U.S. regions. Examples of exogenous forces include out-migration of population, natural disasters, financial flows, or the introduction of new activities. The course methods enable practicing professionals to integrate environmental and social dimensions of planning into the framework of economic impact analysis.
  • CRP 6720 International Institutions The course introduces students to the theory and practice of international development planning from an institutional perspective. It begins with an introduction to the field and provides a historical, institutional and theoretical overview. The course examines the main actors involved in the practice of international development planning: the public sector, civil society and NGOs, community-based organizations and the private sector. It critically analyzes some of the large international institutions engaged in planning, policy and global governance. These institutions are analyzed in the context of an issue that is central to their core mission. The last section of the course critically examines new configurations, forces for change and challenges to how we conceptualize as well as practice international development planning, including migration, transnationalism, social movements, post-democracy and anarchism. 
  • CRP 6740 Urban Transformations in the Global South We live in the age of the city. At some point early in the twenty-first century, the majority of the world's population became urban and the bulk of all growth in the future is expected to occur in the global South - a vast geographical and conceptual space where some of the world's most ancient cities continue to thrive. This graduate seminar seeks to you to a body of work on the cities of the global South, their diversity, growth and change starting in the early twentieth century. Drawing on a large interdisciplinary literature, we will consider the different ways in which scholars and researchers have sought to conceptualize and understand processes of city-building in the global South.
  • CRP 6770 Seminar on Issues in African Development Examines a broad range of critical concerns in contemporary Africa including food production, human resource development, migration, urbanization, environmental resource management, economic growth, and policy guidance. The weekly presentations are made by invited specialists. Students are required to write a term paper.
  • CRP 6792 Planning and Poverty in the Global SouthThe course focuses on planning for poverty alleviation in the Global South. The course addresses the following questions: How is poverty defined and understood? What methods are available for measurement and evaluation? What are appropriate strategies, policies and programs to alleviate poverty? What are alternative approaches? To address these questions, the course critically examines three schools of thought that have dominated how we conceptualize, measure and alleviate poverty: poverty as economic deprivation, poverty in terms of well-being and basic human needs, and poverty as vulnerability and social exclusion. 

Students should consult with CRP faculty and the appropriate area-studies program, which offer important compilations of area-related classes across the university. Classes are likely to be in the following fields: development sociology, industrial and labor relations, government, anthropology, natural resources, nutrition, and applied economics and management, among others based on a student's interest. Cornell's three National Resource Centers–funded area studies programs in East Asia, Southeast Asia, and South Asia all offer Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowships to U.S. citizens.