Spring 2024
January 22
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Urban Adaptation


In an era of accelerating climate disruption, the ways that people live in cities are changing in real time and urban planning must grapple with this emerging and transforming reality. While reducing emissions, or mitigation, remains as important as ever, adaptation, or finding ways for people and cities to live with climate impacts, is now imperative.

This seminar on urban adaptation is comprised of two complementary parts: 1. It will provide students a foundation in the field through readings and discussion of major topics and 2. It will provide students the opportunity to engage with an urgent emerging problem in adaptation and deliver planning guidance to a real-world client.

As climate impacts become more pervasive, climate anxiety, or well-founded unease about the future has also become rampant. As a point of departure, the course will begin with works from the arts and humanities on hope and envisioning positive future alternatives. This will provide a grounding to delve into topics including equity and justice, regional collaboration, migration, limits to adaptation, the adaptation/mitigation nexus, and transformational adaptation. Students will put these concepts into practice through a project for the Climigration Network considering how land can be responsibly and equitably used after residents relocate away from floods and fires. This issue of post-relocation land use is an emerging area of practice where strategies and solutions will be increasingly in demand as more and more communities are either forced to or choose to relocate. Through the two complementary parts of the course, students will have an opportunity to be at the cutting-edge of practice while engaging thoughtfully with the full complexity of underlying adaptation challenges.

Urban Planning & Design
Harvard Graduate School of Design
Course Level
Interest Area
Design & Architecture
Cross Registration