Urban Science Lecture Series

Upcoming Events

Spring events will be announced soon. Stay tuned!

Previous Events

Tuesday, December 8th. 12:30-2:00pm

New Books from Urban Science!

Join us in a new books launching event to explore Urban Science and Planning with Computer Science! 

Check out this amazing illustration created by Tamra Carhart (, instagram: @carhartcreativefor the event highlights!

Tuesday, December 1st. 12:30-1:30pm

W. E. B. Du Bois's Data Portraits: Visualizing Black America

Britt Rusert and Whitney Battle-Baptiste

Race, Data, Equity Lecture Series

The colorful charts, graphs, and maps presented at the 1900 Paris Exposition by famed sociologist and black rights activist W. E. B. Du Bois offered a view into the lives of black Americans, conveying a literal and figurative representation of "the color line." From advances in education to the lingering effects of slavery, these prophetic infographics—beautiful in design and powerful in content—make visible a wide spectrum of black experience.

Tuesday, November 10th. 12:30-1:30pm

In Absentia

Mimi Ọnụọha | Visiting Arts Professor at NYU Tisch

Race, Data, Equity Lecture Series

Mimi Ọnụọha is a Nigerian-American artist creating work about a world made to fit the form of data. By foregrounding absence and removal, her multimedia practice uses print, code, installation and video to make sense of the power dynamics that result in disenfranchised communities' different realtionships to systems that are digital, cultural, historical, and ecological. Ọnụọha has spoken and exhibited internationally and has been in in residence at Studio XX (Canada), Data & Society Research Institute (USA), the Royal College of Art (UK), Eyebeam Center for Arts & Technology (USA), and Arthouse Foundation (Nigeria, upcoming). She lives and works in Brooklyn.

Monday, November 9th, 12:30-1:30pm

BU/MIT Technology Law Clinic info session

Co-sponsored by Urban Science, DesignX, and the Science Impact Collaborative in DUSP.

The BU/MIT Technology Law Clinic is a free and confidential legal resource for MIT and BU students. BU Law students, together with experienced faculty, work with students who run into legal issues with their innovative and academic work, including in data privacy, cybersecurity, intellectual property, and media law. This BU and MIT partnership came in response to a demand from students at MIT, who asked for greater legal support for their startups and independent academic activity. Come to our event to learn more!

Monday, November 2rd. 12:00-1:00pm

Gender in Planning: Moving From Research to Actual Implementation

Inés Sánchez de Madariaga | Director, UNESCO Chair on Gender Equality in Science, Technology and Innovation & Professor of Urban Planning, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid

Hosted by the Data + Feminism Lab, MIT Urban Science 11-6, and the DUSP City Design and Development group.

Tuesday, October 13th. 12:30-1:30pm

Data Refutations: Indigenous protocols and cartographic dialogue

Margaret Pearce | Cartographer and Writer

Race, Data, Equity Lecture Series

Margaret Wickens Pearce is a cartographer and enrolled Citizen Band Potawatomi. She grew up on Seneca territory at Ga'sgöhsagöh, at the Waterfall (Rochester, NY) and today lives on Penobscot territory at Catawamkeag, the Great Landing Place (Rockland, Maine). Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, and awarded support by Yaddo, ART Omi, A Studio in the Woods, New Orleans Center for the Gulf South, the Landes Fund, the Center for Native American and Indigenous Research at Northwestern University, the School for Advanced Research, and the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS), among others, and received two national cartographic design awards. She has been a faculty member at Humboldt State University, Ohio University, and University of Kansas, and holds a Ph.D. in geography from Clark University.

September 15th

Ending police terror against Black people: Building a world without police?

Brandon D. Anderson | Founder of Raheem

Race, Data, Equity Lecture Series

Brandon D. Anderson is a Black queer abolitionist, tech-entrepreneur, and third-generation military veteran born and raised in Oklahoma during the height of the 1980’s crack epidemic and the global HIV pandemic. He’s the oldest of five and the son of Shirley Anderson, a Sunday-school teacher and sales clerk, and John Anderson, a retired janitor and manufacturing plant manager. After losing his life partner and fiancé to police violence during a routine traffic stop, Anderson founded Raheem — the independent service for reporting police violence in the United States. Raheem has helped thousands of people report police in over 200 US cities and tied more than 275 officers to cases of police misconduct.


MIT’s newest major provides a foundation for students to work in applied computation, data analytics, public policy, economic development, urban design, management, and planning.

In the years to come, solutions to the complex global problems, which are increasingly urban, will require an understanding of large amounts of data and a facility with analysis, visualization, sensors, and even the integration of artificial intelligence into planning and policy-making contexts in a democratic and ethical manner. At the same time, the fields of computer science and machine learning can benefit from the urgency and “hands-on” nature of the sorts of challenges presented in policy-making and urban planning contexts and can lead to democratic and ethical innovations of technology. In short: urban planners have excellent problems, and computer scientists have excellent tools.

The subjects in the major combine ethics, justice, public participation, policy, and design with statistics, data science, geospatial analysis, visualization, robotics, and machine learning to craft equitable solutions to complex urban problems.

The 11-6 degree allows undergraduates to learn the theory and practice of (1) urban planning and policy-making including ethics and justice; (2) statistics, data science, geospatial analysis, and visualization, and (3) computer science, robotics, and machine learning.

To accomplish these ends, the required subjects include core courses in both computer science and urban planning fundamentals, as well as lab and project-based courses that will help students synthesize and integrate across the two departments. On the Urban Studies and Planning side, students will also receive a grounding in the political, sociological, legal, and ethical aspects of collecting and using new information flows and new civic technologies to design and manage city resources and urban spaces around the world. They will also learn the techniques of for data visualization, applied spatial analysis, urban design, and making public policy formulation and implementation.

For the predominantly technically-minded undergraduates at MIT, working within real urban contexts and environments will expose them to:

  • Fundamental and socially-relevant questions of equity, fairness, diversity, and implementation in a global context;
  • Specific applications of technology and systems in environmental management, transportation, infrastructure financing, cybersecurity, provision of housing, and job creation.
  • Diverse contexts in which technology is tested and used, especially at the critical intersections between government and industry; policy-making and implementation; and in both the developed and developing world.

lecture series

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Degree Requirements

6.0001    Introduction to Computer Science and Programming in Python
6.0002    Introduction to Computational Thinking and Data Science
6.042[J]  Mathematics for Computer Science
6.006      Introduction to Algorithm
6.009      Fundamentals of Programming
6.031      Elements of Software Construction
11.001[J]   Introduction to Urban Design and Development
11.007       Urban & Environmental Technology Implementation Lab
11.188       Urban Planning and Social Science Laboratory (CI-M)
Select one of the following options:
Option 1 (12 units)       6.008   Introduction to Inference
Option 2 (24 units)       6.034    Artificial Intelligence   
                                     OR   6.036    Introduction to Machine Learning
                                     6.041    Introduction to Probability
Select one of the following subjects:
6.805     Foundations of Information Policy 1
11.002   Making Public Policy
11.011   The Art and Science of Negotiation
11.165   Urban Energy Systems and Policy

Select One Advanced Computer Science Elective Select Three Urban Science Electives
6.803  The Human Intelligence Enterprise
6.811[J]   Principles and Practice of Assistive Technology
6.815    Digital and Computational Photography
6.837    Computer Graphics
6.170    Software Studio
2.00A     Fundamentals of Enineering Design: Explore Space, Sea, and Earth
4.032     Design Studio: Information and Visualization
4.432     Modleing Urban Energy Flows for Sustainable Cities and Neighborhoods
6.805[J]  Foundations of Information Policy
11.123    Big Plans and Mega-Urban Landscape
11.137    Financing Economic Development
11.148    Environmental Justice: Law and Policy
11.156    Healthy Cities: Assessing Health Impacts of Policies and Plans
11.158    Behavior and Policy: Connections in Transportation
12.010    Computational Methods of Scientific Programming
15.276    Communicating with Data
IDS.012[J]   Statistics, Computation and Application
IDS.060[J]   Environmental Law, Policy, and Economics: Pollution Prevention and Controls
11.113         The Economic Approach to Cities and Environmental Sustainability
11.154         Big Data, Visualization, and Society
11.155[J]/STS.005[J]      Data and Society
11.165         Urban Energy Systems and Policy
11.169         Global Climate Policy and Sustainability

Select one of the following options:
Option 1 Option 2
6.UR     Undergraduate Research in EECS
6.UAR   Seminar in Undergraduate Advanced Research (CI-M)
11.THT[J]     Thesis Research Design Seminar (CI-M)
11.THU        Undergraduate Thesis

Students who apply for a course petition should first submit a petition form and contact their advisor for a brief consultation. Students need to explain why the petition is necessary and how it fits into their curriculum. Advisor will evaluate the feasibility of each case and endorse a petition request to DUSP undergraduate administrator. For more specific questions, students should contact DUSP undergraduate administrator Sandra M. Elliott (   

Ask a Question

Do you have questions about the major, classes, or on-going research? Want to get involved with the new major or discuss how 11-6 would prepare you for future endeavors? Listed below are volunteer faculty and staff who are eager to answer your questions, please reach out to them directly via the provided email address.

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Eran Ben-Joseph
Professor of Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning, Department Head
Eran Ben-Joseph is a Professor and Head of the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His research and teaching areas include urban and physical design, standards and regulations, sustainable site planning technologies and urban retrofitting. He authored and co-authored the books: Streets and the Shaping of Towns and Cities, Regulating Place: Standards and the Shaping of Urban America, The Code of the City, RENEW Town and ReThinking a Lot. Eran worked as a city planner, urban designer and landscape architect in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and the United States on projects including new towns and residential developments, streetscapes, stream restorations, and parks and recreation planning. He has led national and international multi-disciplinary projects in Singapore, Barcelona, Santiago, Tokyo and Washington DC among other places.'s picture
Sarah Williams
Associate Professor of Technology and Urban Planning
Sarah Williams is an Associate Professor of Technology and Urban Planning. She also is Director of the Civic Data Design Lab at MIT's School of Architecture and Planning. The Civic Data Design Lab works with data, maps, and mobile technologies to develop interactive design and communication strategies that expose urban policy issues to broader audiences. Trained as a Geographer (Clark University), Landscape Architect (University of Pennsylvania), and Urban Planner (MIT), Williams's work combines geographic analysis and design. Williams is most well known for her work as part of the Million Dollar Blocks team which highlighted the cost of incarceration, Digital Matatus which developed the first data set on a informal transit system searchable in Google Maps, and a more a recent project that uses social media data to understand housing vacancy and Ghost Cities in China.'s picture
David Hsu
Associate Professor of Urban and Environmental Planning
David is an Associate Professor in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His research and teaching areas focus on how to use environmental policy and planning to shape cities to become more efficient in their use of resources, more livable, and healthier. Much of his work seeks to assist local policymakers and environmental advocates directly in the stages of policy design and implementation.
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Joe Ferreira
Professor of Urban Information Systems and Planning
Professor Ferreira was the founding director of the Planning Department's Computer Resource Lab and is now head of Urban Information Systems. He teaches analytical methods and computer-based modeling for planning and urban management including courses involving extensive use of geographic information systems (GIS) and database management. Both Prof. Ferreira's undergraduate degree (in electrical engineering) and his PhD degree (in operations research) are from MIT. His research uses GIS and interactive spatial analysis tools to model land use, transportation, and environmental interactions and to build sustainable information infrastructures for supporting urban and regional planning. He is a past-president of the Urban and Regional Information Systems Association (URISA) and has been principal investigator of numerous research projects studying job‐housing balance, urban performance measures, and urban information infrastructure. His current research includes the Future Urban Mobility project within the Singapore/MIT Alliance for Research and Technology where he is the SMART Research Professor of Urban Information Systems.
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Andres Sevtsuk
Associate Professor of Urban Science and Planning
Andres Sevtsuk is a Charles and Ann Spaulding Career Development Associate Professor of Urban Science and Planning at the Department of Urban Studies and Planning, where he also leads the City Form Lab. His work bridges urban design with spatial analysis and urban technology. He has led various international research projects; exhibited his research at TEDx, the World Cities Summit and the Venice Biennale; and received the President’s Design Award in Singapore, International Buckminster Fuller Prize and Ron Brown/Fulbright Fellowship. Before joining MIT, Andres was an Associate Professor of Urban Planning and Design at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. He holds a PhD from the Department of Urban Studies and Planning and an SMArchs in Architecture and Urbanism from MIT.
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Catherine D'Ignazio
Assistant Professor of Urban Science and Planning
Catherine D'Ignazio is an Assistant Professor of Urban Science and Planning in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at MIT. She is also Director of the Data + Feminism Lab which uses data and computational methods to work towards gender and racial equity, particularly as they relate to space and place. D'Ignazio is a scholar, artist/designer and hacker mama who focuses on feminist technology, data literacy and civic engagement. Prior to joining DUSP, D'Ignazio was an Assistant Professor of Data Visualization and Civic Media at Emerson College in the Journalism Department, taught for seven years in the Digital + Media graduate program at Rhode Island School of Design and did freelance software development for more than ten years. She holds an MS from the MIT Media Lab, an MFA from Maine College of Art, and a BA in International Relations (Summa Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa) from Tufts University.
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Yuan Lai
Lecturer of Urban Science and Planning
Yuan Lai is a Lecturer in Urban Science and Planning with a focus on data analytics, data visualization, and machine learning. His expertise lies at the intersection of urban information, applied data science, and urban systems. Prior to joining DUSP, Yuan was a research affiliate at NYU Marron Institute of Urban Management and NYU Center for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP). His work has been featured at the United Nations, Bloomberg Data for Good Exchange, NYC Media Lab, American Planning Association, American Society of Civil Engineers, and Urban Design Forum. Yuan holds a PhD in urban systems and informatics and a MS in applied urban science and informatics from NYU CUSP, as well as a Master of Urban Planning and a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture.
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Eric Huntley
Lecturer of Urban Science and Planning
Eric Huntley joined DUSP in August 2017 as a Technical Instructor of GIS, Data Visualization and Graphics. Huntley's work combines methods and forms of representation in novel ways to produce compelling and visually-rich narratives that draw from geography, data science, and design. He has years of GIS teaching experience and an expansive skillset that includes data visualization, GIS and spatial analysis, web mapping, urban design representation, and media production. His design work has been exhibited at the Harvard Graduate School of Design and the University of Michigan's Taubman College of Architecture & Urban Planning.

Additional Resources

Coming soon, current student resources, alumni resources, and more.

Do you have general questions about the 11-6 major such as: is this the right major for me? How can I be involved as a faculty advisor? Feel free to reach out to any of the individual faculty or staff members above or contact the 11-6 committee at: