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GEOG215 Envisioning Sustainable Cities

18 Points

Co-ordinator: Professor Michelle Thompson-Fawcett

The paper will survey histories, structures and practical dilemmas of contemporary urbanisation and city transformation via disparate case studies of urban planning from around the world.

The choice of dissimilar case studies is a path to ensuring that we strenuously test the theories that we are exploring and that we do not simply consider the specifics of particular places, but that we also undertake meaningful comparative analysis, aware of both local and global contexts.

We will grapple with the formulation and implementation of transformative plans that significantly affect the lives of people.

This requires that you think analytically and creatively about the city-making process. In particular, throughout the course, you should be asking yourself the following questions (derived from the work of Bent Flyvbjerg) in relation to each city that we study:

  • What problem is the city trying to address?
  • How is the city addressing it and where is it going?
  • Is what’s being done desirable?
  • Who is gaining and who is losing in relation to the changes that are taking place?
  • What, if anything, should be done about that?

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An examination of theoretical concepts, debates and worldviews relevant to envisaging ‘just’ urban sustainability, based on comparative analyses of city transformations led by Indigenous, environmental and/or equity imperatives.

Paper title Envisioning Sustainable Cities
Paper code GEOG215
Subject Geography
EFTS 0.15
Points 18 points
Teaching period Semester 2 (On campus)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $1,141.35
International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.

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GEOG 102 or 108 points
GEOG 384
Schedule C
Arts and Music, Science
Teaching staff

Course Coordinator: Professor Michelle Thompson-Fawcett

Paper Structure

Lectures: The mode of teaching is based primarily on lectures. However, active student involvement in class, small group discussions and brainstorming sessions will be encouraged.

Tutorials: There is a tutorial programme that runs on alternate weeks of the semester. The purpose of the tutorials is to engage in discussion and debate about the readings with your peers, learning with and from each other.

Assessment is 50% internal (on-going during the semester) and 50% external (final examination).

Teaching Arrangements

Two lectures per week and a series of tutorials scheduled in alternate weeks over the 13 weeks of the semester.


Textbooks are not required for this paper. Suggested readings will be identified.

Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Global perspective, Interdisciplinary perspective, Communication, Critical thinking.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes
Students who successfully complete the paper are expected to be able:
  • To demonstrate a critical understanding and evaluation of
    1. Some of the major concerns with regard to urban issues, outcomes and processes
    2. Various urban planning theories and associated discourses and practices
    3. Some key principles and concepts that underpin urban visions and urban transformations
  • To search for, retrieve and reference analytical information about urban transformation through use of academic and popular literature available in print and through online sources

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Semester 2

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
L1 Tuesday 11:00-11:50 28-34, 36-41
Wednesday 14:00-14:50 28-34, 36-41


Stream Days Times Weeks
Attend one stream from
T1 Wednesday 10:00-10:50 29, 31, 33, 36, 38
T2 Wednesday 12:00-12:50 29, 31, 33, 36, 38
T3 Thursday 10:00-10:50 29, 31, 33, 36, 38
T4 Friday 10:00-10:50 29, 31, 33, 36, 38