Transformation at the Urban Edge:
Urbanization in Exurbia

Case Studies in Housing
City and Regional Planning 815 (4 credit hours)
Independent Study CRP 793 (2 credit hours)
International Studies 697 (6 credit hours)

Hazel A. Morrow-Jones
Ohio State University
City and Regional Planning
Knowlton School of Architecture

Columbus, Ohio, USA

Spring 2000
More Columbus-Dresden syllabi

Course Topic | Class Meetings | Group Projects | Books | Grading | Trip Notes

  • Hazel A. Morrow-Jones (Ohio State University)
    Assistant Professor Maria Manta Conroy (Ohio State University)
    Professor Dale Bertsch (Ohio State University)
    Planning Division of the City of Columbus
    and many others

  • Bernhard Müller (Technical University, Dresden)
    Olaf Schmidt (Technical University, Dresden)
    Planning Department of City of Dresden
Course Home Page:

The specific topic of this year’s sustainable urban development seminar is Transformation at the Urban Edge: Urbanization in Exurbia. We will define “urban edge” broadly to include the places the city edge has been over time.

We have the unusual opportunity of working electronically with a seminar at the Technical University of Dresden (TUD) during the quarter and then completing our work in the field by visiting Dresden in June and hosting our German colleagues in Columbus in late August. The class will be conducted in English or, when German is necessary, with a translator. As far as I know this kind of exchange in which students, professors and planning professionals from two countries work together electronically and then exchange visits for field work is unique – I know of no other example of this level of cooperation. Take advantage of it!

The course is international in scope and experimental in nature. This requires a high level of maturity, flexibility, dedication to this class, and responsibility from the participants in order to take advantage of opportunities or to work around problems as they arise. This syllabus describes my best estimate of our plans. Please feel free to suggest changes.


Class Meetings
The class will meet at least once a week during Spring Quarter. We are scheduled to meet in Brown Hall 270 from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. on Tuesdays. Class meetings will usually involve discussion and short presentations from class members and guest speakers. The discussions will focus on readings, questions and concerns from class members in either country.

One day a week is not enough time for the discussions and material we need to cover, so I have reserved space at the Hocking Hills State Park for a required class retreat from Friday evening through Sunday morning, April 14-16, 2000. Please arrange your schedules to attend the retreat. We will work out details of car pooling and other arrangements in class. The basics of lodging and food will be covered from our course funds.

In addition, I would like to have at least one social gathering at my home during the quarter and we may decide to have some class meetings there as well.

We have several tasks to accomplish during spring quarter (before we travel to Germany). These include (but are not necessarily limited to):

  • A broad understanding of US planning systems – including educating each other about the fields represented in the class.
  • Reading some of the literature on US urban development and transformations at the edges of urban areas.
  • Learning about comparative urban analysis – both in general and specific comparisons between the US and Germany.
  • Some understanding of Germany and the German urban and planning systems, with emphasis on eastern Germany.
  • Preparation for international travel in general – including discussions of your journal assignment.
  • Preparation for the specifics of “excursions” as the TUD faculty run them.
  • Preparation of good drafts of your group papers to take to your colleagues at TUD.
  • Advance preparation for the Dresden students’ return visit.

During the first ten weeks (before we travel to Germany) students will read extensively, work with their groups to write background papers and undertake a variety of small assignments. Some of those assignments will require that the American students get information from their Dresden colleagues and vice versa.

Grades for the course will be based on the following assignments:

30% - Group Project
20% - Posters
15% - Individual Journal
35% - Participation

You will work in international groups on projects during the course. Each group will have two Germans and three Americans (by “Americans” I mean those who are registered for the OSU class whether or not they are American citizens). The group projects will focus on six specific issues both in the US and in Germany. These include:

  1. a typology of suburban/exurban places and how the typology changes over time;
  2. land use change (GIS and remote sensing would be helpful here);
  3. architecture and urban design at the edge and how they change;
  4. the economic reasons for and implications of change (e.g., the creation of new “town centers”);
  5. implications of change for school systems;
  6. the interactions between transportation systems and changes at the urban edge.

In each of these topics the group will address a variety of questions. Some will be about the need (if any) for government action at a variety of levels, the kinds of action needed, the pros and cons of governmental action, and proposals for action within the constraints of the two national systems. You will need to define your topic more clearly and to focus your research. One of the important processes involved is communicating with your partners both in the US and in Germany. The communication process is an important aspect of the group work, so do not look on it as an impediment, or something to be gotten over as quickly as possible – work with it and try to learn from your differences and miscommunications as well as from your similarities and successes.

During the ten-week seminar you will write a background paper on your group project topic for the U.S. and your German colleagues will write one on Germany.

You are required to turn in a one page statement of what you think you will do with your group topic on April 11. On April 25 you must turn in a rough outline including a listing of the resources that you plan to use (this can change and be amended, but it should be in pretty good shape by this point). The due date for your first draft is May 9, 2000. I will return them to you by May 16 and you will rewrite it (into what I will call the “travel draft”) by May 30. Each paper must be presented in both hard copy and electronic form. Before leaving for Germany, you will e-mail your travel draft to your Dresden colleagues with a copy to me as well. Completion of each group paper stage in a timely way with reasonable quality is a requirement of the group assignment and will be factored into the final project grade.

The final paper from each group will be due on Friday, Oct. 20, 2000 (or sooner, but not before the visit of the Dresden class to Columbus). This paper will use the original two background papers (one from the U.S. and one from Germany) as the base, but will continue the discussion, examining various possible solutions to the problems and issues you identified as well as discuss their positive and negative points. I may require another rewrite of this paper, depending on the level of this final draft.

Everyone will be assigned an incomplete until these papers are turned in (electronic and hard copy) and rewritten if requested.

Posters | Participation | Journal | Important Notes | Supplies

After spring quarter is over, we will travel to Dresden for two weeks of intensive field work. The field work may involve visiting developments; interviewing planning officials, developers, and others; collecting data; doing survey work; . . . . . and lots of other things. Unless you have specifically arranged it with me, I expect you to make the trip with us, and for that two weeks, to remain with the group and undertake all of the activities that our hosts plan for us.

In the second half of August the TUD students will come to Columbus for fieldwork here. I expect that everyone will be able and willing (in fact, eager!) to participate actively for the two weeks they will be here. If you are working, try to arrange your schedules so that you will have time to attend our events (all day every day for two weeks – there will be social events in the evenings too). I will offer CRP 816 in the second term of summer quarter so that you can get course credit for strong participation with the Dresden students’ visit.

Activities during these times are part of the participation grade (see below).

For background information on Columbus and Dresden, see:
Americanization of German Cities: Case Studies in Housing (1998)

During the two weeks we are in Dresden and the two weeks the Dresden students are in Columbus, you will work in small groups (probably different people from the main group project above) to study a specific problem at a specific site in each city. The outcome of this study will be two posters, one presented at the end of the two weeks in Dresden on the German study and one presented at the end of the two weeks in Columbus on a local study.

This is a difficult area to define, but it is crucial to the whole class’s experience. I expect this class to be a major focus of your effort for the term. That means, among other things, being prepared, attending class (and other activities that we schedule), participating constructively in class discussions, volunteering for tasks that will need to be done during the quarter, being flexible, helping out wherever help is needed, and so on. The jobs that need done during the quarter will cover a range of skills and will also be from large to very small, so there should be plenty for everyone.

Ideally, everyone in class will attend all sessions, will travel to Dresden with us, and will be available in August to work with the Dresden students when they come here. The final aspects of the group projects cannot be completed until the Columbus field portion of the class is done – and that will happen in August.

Some examples of the kinds of tasks we’ll need to get done over the course of the seminar include:

  • Scanning photos and maps and putting them up on the web site,

  • Writing a brief biography of yourself and adding a picture so we can put those on the web site,

  • Continuing upgrades and maintenance on the web site,

  • Acting as librarian of the materials in the conference room,

  • Helping with logistics for the Dresden students’ visit to Columbus in the fall,

  • Keeping especially good notes about what does and doesn’t work as far as course logistics, the technology, the approach – these will go in your journal (see below),

  • Volunteering for small errands, short reports, additional information gathering or other tasks,

  • Taking on tasks for the retreat

Keep track of what you contributions you have made (I may not realize all the things you’ve done or forget in the rush of other things happening) and include the list as a separate page with your journal when you turn it in.

Note that this is the single largest part of your grade.

Individual Journals
Everyone in class will keep a journal. The document may include text, photos, drawings, and materials you pick up on trips, and so on. I suggest that you keep the journal very honestly and completely for yourself, and then edit it if you feel the need for more privacy before you hand it in. At different times in the quarter I will give you lists of questions I’d like you to think about and answer in your journal – this may be especially useful for the video conferencing events. If possible, I would like this in electronic form, but, depending on the kind of journal you keep, that may not work. The reason for the electronic form is that it would make it easier for me to edit out identifying items and use the anonymous material with future classes or in articles describing the class.

I am trying to do several things with this assignment:

  1. Help you create a record of your experiences in class and on the trips so you can remember all the parts. Finding time to write may be difficult during the time in Dresden, but you should make every effort anyway – maybe a small tape recorder would help. These are the things you will most want to remember. One of the required textbooks is a book on 'journaling'. I hope it will be helpful.
  2. Increase the amount of information I glean from the class – every one of you will learn things that I don’t during the term and this will give me a chance to pick up on those things too.
  3. Improve the class the next time it is offered. Keep a record of things that worked or didn’t work, ideas you have to improve things, readings or videos you come across, etc.
  4. Do some research on the value of video conferencing and electronic communications in distance learning efforts. That’s why I will give you questions to answer about those experiences.

The journals will be due Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2000.


  1. To take this class, please sign up for six (6) hours of International Studies 697 (10362-7). When grades are assigned, this will change to four (4) hours of CRP 815 and two (2) hours of CRP 793 independent study. Norman Caban is our international studies coordinator; his e-mail address is:

  2. Before we go to Germany I will ask everyone to meet with me individually. Please be sure to let me know about any special aspects of your situation I need to be aware of. For example, I need to know about chronic conditions like diabetes, fear of heights, claustrophobia, etc. in order to help arrange things so you can cope. Note that I have asked these questions on the first day questionnaire as well – I am sorry if the questions seem intrusive. Normally I would not even ask or need to know these things, but being pretty far from home and together almost constantly for two weeks means that I do need to know.

    If you have specific tools that you need like contact lenses or hearing aids (even rubber bands for your braces), then I need to know in case of emergencies. In general, I need to be aware of any special circumstances in order to make sure things go as smoothly and safely as possible.

  3. Check your final exam schedule now. Then get your travel plans made as early as possible.
    You must be in Dresden and ready to start by 8 a.m. on Tuesday, June 13, 2000. I suggest you get there earlier if at all possible. Your reservations at the youth hostel begin on the evening of the 12th. I hope that your Dresden colleagues will offer to put you up for a night or two if you arrive early.

    We will need to know your travel plans early enough to get room reservations. Everyone will need a passport. If you are not an American, you may need visas – be prepared to go to Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic at least.

  4. Pay close attention throughout the quarter for announcements, changes, information on what to take along, and a myriad of other things. Try to stay flexible and be prepared to roll with the punches.

Necessary Supplies
You are required to purchase (Bring these to the April 4 class and to the retreat at least):

  • an 8 1/2 x 11 sketchbook with high quality bond paper (this will become your Dresden book),

  • a couple of sharp soft lead pencils (recommended: Berol Draughting Pencils #314 with a portable pencil sharpener and mars staedtler erasers)

I recommend (you might want to have these at class meetings and, especially, at the retreat):

  • Some kind of bound paper for a journal (possibly the sketchbook will act as both)

  • A camera you can easily work with

  • A small tape recorder


Laubach and Nivola are required. Downs and Sachs, et. al. are recommended.

Downs, Anthony. 1994. New Visions for Metropolitan America. The Brookings Institution: Washington, D.C.

Laubach, Susan. 1999. Don’t Lose your Memory: Writing the Journey Journal. The Oakleaf Press: Richmond, VA.

Nivola, Pietro S. 1999. Laws of the Landscape: How Policies Shape Cities in Europe and America. Brookings Institution Press: Washington, D.C.

Sachs, Wolfgang, Reinhard Loske, Manfred Linz, et. al. (translated by Timothy Nevill) 1998. Greening the North: A Post-Industrial Blueprint for Ecology and Equity. Zed Books: London.

We will read a great deal of other material, but it will mainly be from the shelves of our conference/reference room (an office inside room 289 Brown Hall). You can copy whatever you want, but I would prefer that things not leave that room except to be photocopied and returned. That will help protect the resources for other students in this class and for future classes.


March 28
Introduction, Logistics, Class Set Up

Discuss “Past and Future Influences” document
Guest: Norman Caban from Office of International Education

April 4
Read: Rusk chapters 1, 5, 6, 7 (copies in the Dresden room)
Guest lecture: Professor K. B. Jones – drawing/sketching as a way to capture the experience. Bring the required sketching materials to class.

April 11
Read: Nivola book
Group topic statement due

April 14-16
Retreat at the Hocking Hills State Lodge

Discussion of group topic statement
Bring your sketching and journaling materials to the retreat
Read: Laubach chapters 1 through 5 and the introduction before the retreat.
Guest lecture: Comparative urbanization (Professor Smriti Srinivas)

April 18
American planning systems

Read: Daniels chapters 1, 2, 7 (copies in Dresden room)
Guest lecture: Maria Manta Conroy on sustainable development

April 25
First class video conference

After the first all-class conference I hope that you will be able to use the video conferencing equipment to work with your German partners at any time that is convenient for you and them. This will depend on the equipment they have available.

Group paper outline due

May 2
Readings on German urban systems and planning

May 9
Readings on German urban systems and planning
Guest lecture: Professor Jackie Gargus on the architecture of Dresden
First draft of group paper due

May 16
Second class video conference (tentative)
First draft of group paper returned
Readings from past student journals and helpful hints
Journal assignment (some written or otherwise recorded items to turn in)

May 23
Comparative readings
Journal assignment (some written or otherwise recorded items to turn in)

May 30
Comparative readings
Travel draft of group paper due

June 6
Final class video conference (tentative)
to arrange travel plans and accommodations

Prepared for the H-Urban Syllabus Archive 9 January 2003.
Updated 14 October 2004.