Teaching and Advising


11.S940 Development, Planning, and Implementation: The Dialectic of Theory and Practice

This is an advanced seminar which will analyze the effectiveness of developmental and planning theories from the perspective of practitioners who implement projects and policies based on such theories. The course will be organized around twelve implementation puzzles which should be considered for re-theorizing both developmental and planning processes. The course will begin with a review of conventional theories of Development, Urbanization and Planning to set the stage for critical reviews of how such theories actually unfolded in practice.
Then, drawing on the implementation experiences of projects and policies, the conventional theories will be revised particularly to fit organizational constraints which influence implementation outcomes. The ultimate goal is to create new planning sensibilities which theorize from practice, not the other way around. Students will be required to focus on any one of the twelve implementation puzzles discussed in the class and write a paper probing in detail the multiple facets of such a puzzle and how such an understanding can lead to re-conceptualiziation of the developmental process as nations develop, cites grow, and planning is practiced both at “the top”, “the bottom” and also “in between”.

The course syllabus is accessible here.

Planning Sensibilities For Effective Practice

This introductory course is structured on the assumption that to be a new type of urban practitioner requires a new mindset with new sensibilities, and that the best way to cultivate new sensibilities is to subject conventional sensibilities to critical questioning nurtured through informed debate and discussion. This course relies primarily on the use of debates and disagreements to sharpen the students’ awareness of their beliefs, dogmas and biases. Discussion of twelve such debates will constitute this course.

The course description is accessible here.

The list of the suggested readings for the course is accessible here.

11.201 Gateway to the Profession of Planning

The Gateway class has three interconnected objectives. First, to help students with diverse backgrounds and equally diverse professional destinations understand that they are part of a larger community of professionals who are interested to improve the quality of life either at the community, city, regional or even national level. Second, the course will build on the experience and idealism of students by sensitizing them to organizational issues which affect the way normative yearnings and good intentions are ultimately expressed as actions by various institutions – public, private and non-governmental. And, third, the course will sensitize the students as to why some professionals are more effective than others in influencing social betterment efforts, and what kind of professional knowledge and skills contribute to such effectiveness. The course attempts to achieve these multiple objectives by starting with historical accounts of how others with normative yearnings had acted, the impact of such actions, both intended and unintended, and the lesson the students can draw as they join the community of professionals with similar intentions. The course relies on both lectures and case studies to cultivate an organizational understanding of how planning efforts unfold in practice, and why some efforts are more successful than others. Also, the case studies introduce the students to the diversity of thinking among the DUSP faculty. Jointly, the lectures and case studies provide an understanding of the mindset and skills of effective planners and, hopefully, will reinforce the students’ confidence in their own ability to become innovative practitioners. Extensive discussions and debates among the students themselves are necessary to build a sense of an emerging community of budding practitioners. Such discussions in small groups are a central learning mechanism for the course whose purpose is to help students develop the art of persuasion, self-reflection, and consensus building for social actions.

The course material from 2010 is available on Open CourseWare here (opens in a new window).

11.025 D-Lab (I): Development

D-Lab (I) is the first of a series of three courses spanning a full academic year. The Fall class introduces the students to classical theories of economic, social, and political modernizations focusing on the role of technological change in the multifaceted process of development of newly industrializing nations. Drawing on theories as well as case studies and hands-on exercises, the course introduces the students to the potential as well as deficiencies of the dominant models of technological innovation focused particularly on the needs and capabilities of poor households. The students are encouraged to develop specific plans for innovative technical solutions and test out such plans during IAP through site visits to poor communities in Asia, Africa, and Latin America where they work with host institutions in fostering technological change and institution building. For more information on D-Lab, see the course website

Theorizing from practice

This course works with SPURS and Humphrey Fellows to identify Urban innovations in the U.S. Economy which can inspire developing countries.

11.701 Introduction to International Development Planning

This introductory course is structured to cultivate the key sensibilities necessary for effective planning practice in newly industrializing countries. The word “sensibility” refers to an awareness of key developmental issues, interdependent causalities, and anticipated as well as unanticipated consequences of social action which mark most planning efforts. In cultivating such sensibilities, this course will use examples from varying institutional settings, ranging from the local to the international levels, and probe how the particularities of each setting call for an awareness of particular institutional opportunities and constraints that planners need to account for when devising planning strategies. An archive of this course is available to the public on MIT OpenCourseWare.

11.464 The Informal Sector and the Household Economy

This course examines interrelationships among low-income households, small-scale, income-generating activities, and the urban economy in developing countries. It explores theories of employment and analyses of “bazaar economies”. It further reviews policy options for enhancing the informal sector’s contribution to development, including the role of women and the possibilities of nonmonetary activities.

11.953 Shelter, Settlement and Development: Design and Planning Challenges of Contemporary Indian Cities
This studio course in Spring 2007 examined how cities grow without infrastructure.

Student Advising

Bish regularly advises Master’s students as well as PhD students. Completed Masters theses and Doctoral dissertations can be found here on DSpace by searching for “Advisor” under Search Type and “sanyal” in the “Search for” field.