Visiting professors teach communication, sustainability in planning

September 15, 2009

Katia Balassiano and Abdulrazak (Razak) Karriem take to the halls of West Sibley starting this fall to teach future planners about the importance of sustainability and the how-to’s of being a savvy communicator in the workplace. At a town hall meeting between CRP faculty and students, organized by the Organization of Cornell Planners in the spring, the students and faculty working together identified professionalism and sustainability as areas of the department’s curriculum that needed to be bolstered in order for the M.R.P. program to stay competitive with other planning programs and give students a marketable edge out of graduate school.

As a planning practitioner, Balassiano introduced innovation and streamlined procedures in land-use regulations and zoning laws. In Rhode Island, she drafted the state’s first municipal affordable housing plan. Her current research involves how nongovernmental organizations help municipalities produce civic spaces in Thailand, and the degree to which such spaces lead to greater participation in governance. This fall, she is debuting in her teaching at Cornell with American Cities and Communication Skills for Planners.

Karriem will focus his instruction this semester on global sustainability issues in planning. For example, in Urban Sustainability students will explore the socioeconomic and environmental dimensions of sustainability in cities. Particularly, students will analyze the contemporary urban environmental crisis in the context of global climate change, critically evaluate government policies and programs that try to address the challenges of sustainability in both developed and developing country cities, and assess struggles for social and environmental justice. Among the case studies explored will be the vulnerability of cities to climate hazards (e.g. New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina), the implementation of a sustainable urban development plan in Curitiba, Brazil, and the development of a municipal adaptation plan for climate change in Cape Town, South Africa. Karriem will also include Urban Transformations in the Global South and Social Movements and Collective Action in the Age of Globalization in his teaching repertoire.

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