Urban Studies Cell - Symbiosis School of Economics, Pune

Urban Studies Cell

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Urban Studies Cell

A United Nations report on World Urbanization Prospects (2014) has pointed out that 54 percent of the world’s population has been residing in urban areas and the proportion is expected to only rise in years to come. While urbanization is considered as an indicator of economic development, it has its implications for human development as well.  The process of urbanization historically has been associated with other important social transformations such as migration, reduction in fertility, rising income inequality among others. Rapid and unplanned urban growth can threaten regional sustainable development. ‘Getting cities right’ is the key challenge as poorly organized cities fail to reap the economic potential and also challenge societal peace. 

In the case of India, cities' contribution to the nation’s growth is presently 63% and poised to increase to 75% by 2010 (HPEC, 2011). The World Bank (2015) opined that the urban development in India is ‘messy and hidden’. Ineffective urban governance and poor management of public services appears to be threatening the sustainable regional development, apart from reducing productivity of urban citizens in India. Among others, infrastructure bottlenecks may complicate the issue. The High Powered Expert Committee on Urban Infrastructure (2011) and the Twelfth Pan has also recognized capacity building as one of the main challenges of urban development in India. 

The Urban Studies Cell (USC) has been created to provide a platform to faculty and student researchers interested in investigating myriad urban challenges & its implications on economy and development. 

  • SSE has been sensitizing its students towards the issue through a 60-hours course on Urban Economic Development since 2014.
  • SSE also offers postgraduate specialization in Urban Development since 2016
  • SSE has the framework ready for a one-year Postgraduate Diploma in Urban Development with the aim of capacity-building of future researchers in this area.
  • SSE has also organized national/ international conferences, workshops and a number of guest lectures, webinars by eminent scholars and practitioners to develop an interdisciplinary approach towards the issue (Appendix I). 
  • SSE - Urban Studies Cell (SUSC) has been working towards enhancing, facilitating and understanding the dynamics of urbanization in India. 

Courses taught-

The Urban Development course at SSE covers the critical economic and socio-economic factors while understanding the construction and design of urban spaces. The course is interdisciplinary in its approach. The students are exposed to technically grounded subjects like Geographic Information System (GIS), the importance of financial management and governance of Urban Local Bodies (ULBs), energy, water and sanitation resources in the nation and the need to address the challenges associated with migration, urban poverty and livelihoods. Understanding the spread of land in urban areas and planning urban spaces appropriately is the key focus of the course. The pedagogy adopted for this course goes beyond the theoretical – student projects and learning include creating blogs, short documentaries, photo studies and using satellite images. The subjects covered include:

  • Urban Governance
  • Urban Poverty
  • Migration and Sustainable Livelihoods
  • Urban Demography
  • Urban Development Experiences
  • Urban Land Economics
  • Urban Mobility
  • Urban Planning and Development
  • Urban Energy and Environment
  • GIS and Problem-solving in Urban India context
  • Urban Solid Waste Management
  • Urban Finance
  • Urban Water and Sanitation