A Formula for Expansion vs. Greenfield Development

By Rami Sarafa

One of the principal norms we’ve extensively explored is the tension between master-planning new developments and the expansion of existing infrastructure or urban areas. If we consider the widely accepted tenant of macro/microeconomics known as “factor conditions,” it is perhaps easier to analyze this dichotomy and achieve a development norm. Succinctly defined, factor conditions are the resources, geographical features and historical attributes of modern states, which are out of their control and/or inherited. These variables shape countries’ respective development needs and thus their respective societies. If you consider the factor conditions of an area, you can more effectively understand if inhabitability should be active or passive, intentional or reflexive, premeditated or dynamic. If a population can benefit from positive factor conditions while alleviating negative ones, then they should be a dynamic part of the process, and mutatis mutandis. Continue reading


In the news: Urbanization, Resource Scarcity, Cities, and Political Stalemates

(Updated March 35)

By John Macomber

Once you start tying phenomena together, the topics of our course are in the news everywhere. As we head into the last days of the Q3 term, here are a smattering just from the last week or two. It would be plausible to spring from these into an original post that applies some analysis or frameworks or segmentation to add the “so what” utility. Continue reading

Post Japan’s Triple Disaster – To Rebuild or Relocate?

By Adelyn Zhou

On March 11th, 2011, a 7.3 magnitude earthquake struck northern Japan and unleashed a devastating tsunami and nuclear power plant meltdown at Fukushima.  Over two and a half years later, much of the population in the affected area has left.  Formerly bustling commercial centers lie as fallow lots filled with rocks and weeds, and the majority of remaining residents are still living in temporary housing with no end in sight.

This past January, I had the unique opportunity to visit the post-disaster Tohoku region in Japan as part of an IXP.  We toured the displaced communities, hearing the first-hand stories of fishermen, farmers, high school students and town leaders.  I was inspired by the resilience of the community as they worked to rebuild their lives.  However amongst the rebuilding, there laid another more sensitive debate “not on how to rebuild, but whether the area be rebuilt at all.”  Similar to the class discussion on New Orleans, there has been heated conversation about this topic in Japan. Continue reading