Urban Planning and the Contradictions of Sustainable Development

UP504 Winter 2008
January 28, 2008
Research Design and Intro to Final Project
Regression – Reflections from Students about Assignment – call on students
Introduce Assignment 2
Introduce Assignment 6 - Final Project
Research design: the ppt on homelessness (turning a theme, interest, topic,
context into your work, tasks, questions and answers) If the theme is the landscape,
the research is the path, and the research proposal is the mapped pathway.
Research Design: a few key concepts:
Research questions vs. policy questions
A meta question vs. a testable question – turning big, vague themes and
contexts into a specific question. (see class exercise)
Ecological fallacy
The research gap: types. Empirical theoretical time space scale bringing
two approaches together disciplinary
Often START with the hypothesis: you know what you want to argue –
write the last paragraph first, and then figure out how to get there.
The handout on research proposals (one page)
Group exercise: (word document)
How do the various elements of the class come together to
address a planning problem? An example:
Is there really more homelessness in NYC than
before, and if so, why?
Images from Accunet AP Media Archive
How do you identify a clear research question, a policy question, and
a methodology to answer these questions?
What data do you need?
How do you get it?
Survey or secondary source?
Can you trust the data?
What results do you expect?
And finally: What will you do with the results?
1. How do you define “homelessness”?
2. Who do you ask to find out who matches your criterion?
Let us say that you observe more homeless than before:
1. Questions
a. Are there more homeless than before? (research question:
b. Why? RQ: causal
c. What can be done to lower this? (policy options and impacts:
d. What should be done? (normative/politics)
2. Hypotheses
a. yes
b. unemployment, housing market, drugs, deinstitutionalization, etc.
c. build housing, kick them out, institutionalization, shelters, etc.
d. ?
3. Literature Review
A. What do we already know about the questions? (results of prior
research studies) Do these answers apply to our case?
B. What methodologies did these previous studies use?
4. Time and Space Frame
Time: what years
Space: just NYC, or
elsewhere? that is a local
or national problem?
5. Model (a conceptual
way to visualize hypotheses
in a causal pattern) Derive
variables from 2b (causal
question). Draw a flow
chart if useful.
6. Data Needed
economic variables, housing data, institutionalization data, drugs,
mobility/migration, homelessness elsewhere, climate, etc.
7. How to gather data
Primary vs. secondary data
survey (how? sample; questionnaire, phone vs. mail, in person) whom
to interview/ask? homeless? social services? police? families?
how to trust your data.
case studies vs. big data sets?
8. How to evaluate data?
descriptive vs. inferential statistics
multiple regression (and path analysis)
demographic analysis
path and trend analysis
case study analysis
9. How to present and communicate data?
Web based vs. printed vs. oral, etc.
UP504 (Winter 2008): In Class Exercise:
Rapid “Round Robin” Research Proposals (R4P)
 Instructions: fill in the first blank question on the page and
then pass the sheet to the next student. The result: Parts
1-5 will be filled in by five different students. For each,
write a concise & precise single sentence. The person who
fills in Part 5 will retain the sheet of paper and be ready to
read to the class.
Research question
Unit of analysis
“Escalating rates of obesity are a national health concern. Nearly
two-thirds of the American population is overweight or obese, and
physical inactivity is responsible for an estimated 200,000 deaths
each year. More alarming is the surge of obesity among children:
There are nearly three times as many overweight children and
adolescents as there were 20 years ago. While a complex range of
factors contributes to the epidemic of obesity, increasing attention
is turning to how the places we live, work and play affect public
health and our ability to be physically active. From elevators and
drive-thru restaurants to cul-de-sac suburbs and strip malls,
opportunities for routine physical activity have been steadily
engineered out of many parts of American life.” From: Robert
Wood Johnson Foundation: Active Living Network: “About” http://www.activeliving.org/about
Michigan may be currently suffering from woes in the
auto industry and other manufacturing sectors, with
high unemployment and high net outmigration.
However, the dangers of global climate change may
represent a silver lining for the state: rising sea levels,
rising temperatures and water shortages may haunt the
currently booming Sunbelt, but not Michigan. A
resurgent Michigan (with lots of fresh water) can
welcome refugees from the coming environmental crises
in the rest of the nation.
“Since the widespread adoption of municipal zoning in the United
States in the early twentieth century, there has been an expansion in
the character and scope of state and local land controls and an
increasing recognition that land use regulation significantly infringes
on private property rights. The nature of land use regulation has
evolved beyond the common law, nuisance-based tradition that
characterized the first century after the nation’s founding. This
nuisance-based approach was primarily focused on preventing harm to
the property rights of others and giving property owners wide latitude
in determining the best use of their land. By contrast, contemporary
land use regulation often uses public policy to mandate the private
provision of amenities that benefit the community-at-large. As the
regulatory scheme influencing local land use has grown more
prescriptive and restrictive, there has been an increasing curtailment of
private property rights. Landowners in many communities nationwide
have been restricted in their ability to use their land in the ways that
they had intended when they purchased their property, dramatically
reducing their property’s value and imposing an economic hardship on
them.” Leonard C. Gilroy, AICP. April 2006. Statewide Regulatory Takings
Reform: Exporting Oregon’s Measure 37 To Other States. Reason Foundation.
“Throughout the 20th century, America's real economic edge came from our
country's legacy as an open and inclusive country. What truly powered
American economic growth and our incredible leads in software and
biotechnology is not our great stocks of raw materials, our huge market, or
even our efficient factories. It has been our ability to attract the best and the
brightest, the most hardworking, creative, and entrepreneurial people from
around the world. Now that edge is eroding. Part of the problem lies in our
increasingly restrictive immigration policy, which makes it harder for top
scientific, entrepreneurial, and cultural talent to get into the country. An even
greater problem is that America is seen as a less open and tolerant country than
ever before - a place where religion and politics have become too closely
intertwined. This affects everything from the kinds of research our government
supports to our declining investments in arts and culture - and now even the
way private companies view gay rights.” Richard Florida, “Tolerance Grows
the Economy” Philadelphia Inquirer (May 25 2005)
“New Orleans’ decline suggests that spending huge sums betting on the future
of the city makes little sense. Perhaps there are externalities or coordination
failures that argue for rebuilding, but they do not immediately come to mind.
Most sensible theories about externalities suggest that giving checks to impacted
residents, who then will move to Houston or Atlanta or Las Vegas, will actually
reduce the negative spillovers from dysfunctional neighborhoods—not increase
None of this means, of course, that we shouldn’t rebuild New
Orleans’ port or its pipelines. But rebuilding this basic infrastructure doesn’t
mean rebuilding the entire city, and it doesn’t necessarily require federal
funding. ….
One of the biggest problems of urban decline is how to help those residents
caught in a declining city. Perhaps, if significant funds are given to New
Orleans residents to help them start life anew in some more vibrant city, then
there will be a silver lining to Katrina after all.” -- Edward L. Glaeser,
“Should the Government Rebuild New Orleans, Or Just Give Residents
Checks?” The Economists’ Voice. Vol. 2 (4) (2005).